E.A. Sports Today

Tough week ends

Alexandria overwhelms undermanned Cleburne County, Tigers vow to press on for Win No. 1

The Cleburne County Tigers played Friday night with the healthiest players they had available. They scored 28 points, but fell to Alexandria 51-28. (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By East Alabama Sports Today

HEFLIN – A difficult week for the Cleburne County football team didn’t get any easier on the scoreboard Friday night.

The Tigers had been battling illness all week that impacted half their roster. It forced them to cancel practice one day and play with a limited roster against one of the top teams in the state.

Although they battled, they suffered a 51-28 loss to eighth-ranked Alexandria to remain winless on the season. They have now lost 12 games in a row going back to last season.

“Our kids gave it everything they had and then some,” Tigers coach Michael Shortt said. “We grew up tonight as a team. There were a lot kids hurting in that locker room tonight; that is a good thing.

“We are going to continue to fight til the end. Our goal right now is to win No. 1 and then go from there.”

Next up for the Tigers is a road non-region game against Randolph County, a team that is 4-1 and coming off a 49-0 shutout of rival Woodland. They following week they return to region play against Lincoln, which is currently 1-5.

More than two dozen players had been hit with the flu, bronchitis, upper respiratory infections or similar maladies. It left them thin at receiver and in the secondary, but they had their quarterback and running backs available. There was some thought to canceling the game, but Shortt made the call to play Thursday after taking into consideration the perspective of the 30-40 players he would have available.

The Tigers put points on the board, scoring 28 points for the third time in five games this season, but the Valley Cubs just had too much firepower, perhaps even for a team that was at full strength.

“It has been a difficult week and I am proud of the fight that our players put up tonight; they played with passion and desire to win,” Shortt wrote in a Facebook post to supporters after the game. “Sometimes when we play so hard kids and coaches make mistakes. The game of football should teach us how to handle mistakes and overcome them and move on.

“I promise you there were plenty of mistakes made tonight by all of us, but what makes me proud as a coach is when my players stand up and admit to a mistake that they made and move on from it. We all, including me, should learn from our kids sometime in how they handle certain things in life, so with that being said, our team, that includes players, coaches and managers, are going to put our big boy pants on and go to work.”

To see more photos from the game visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

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