Ashland working toward opener

Christopher Suggs, head football coach at Ashland, is battling a numbers issue as the season-opener draws near.

The first week of practice included only about 14 players. He is hoping for more like his usual number, 25 to 30, before his Class 1A Blue Devils go to East Union Friday, Sept. 4.

“Based on the circumstances, I guess things are going pretty good,” he said in an interview last week.

The Benton County School District, like most others due to COVID-19, is offering a variety of educational options, including in-classroom work on certain days or distance learning.

“Some who have chosen the virtual learning just can’t get to school in the afternoons for practice,” Suggs said. “They call me every day and say, `Coach, I can’t get a ride.’ I need to get guys back out on the practice field. But either way, we will be ready to give it our best shot.”

Suggs is entering his third season as head coach at Ashland. He will be trying to improve on a 2-9 record from last year.

“If everybody stays healthy, even with 14, I think we can up that win total,” he said.

“For maybe the first time in Ashland history, the offensive line is finally going to be a strength. We will have to ride the offensive line until the younger guys grow up.” Due to that big offensive line, his goal is to run the football more in 2020.

“We may be more option-style or I-style on offense,” Suggs said. “We are getting the basics in so we can start somewhere and then build off of that. If it works, it works.”

His players got some work in during the summer, following the guidelines related to COVID19. But it continues to be of utmost importance, with the low numbers, for his players to get in shape.

“I’m trying to get my guys to understand that they are going to be on the grass all game long (playing both offense and defense).” The Devils compete in Region 1-1A. He ex-

pects Baldwyn and Biggersville to be at the top of the pack with a couple of playoffs spots wide open for the other teams.

“We had our chances last season but just lost some leads,” Suggs said. “It’s all about whoever plays best on that particular night. I feel like our guys will compete ­ give it their best effort.”

Ashland will have an open date September 11 and then go to Strayhorn September 18. The first home game will also kick off district play when the Blue Devils host Falkner September 25.

Holly Springs South Reporter

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