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FOOTBALL: Alcovy coach Jason Dukes stays upbeat about team's progress despite loss
Alcovy quarterback MJ Stroud launches a pass during the Tigers' Newton loss Friday night.-photo by Anthony Banks

COVINGTON, Ga. — The Alcovy Tigers have their first game under their belt with new head coach Jason Dukes. And although it was not a dream beginning, he is still exuding optimism for his team.

Finding the light in a 45-0 loss to a crosstown rival is hard — especially when it’s a Newton squad that Alcovy hasn’t beaten in six years. But the first-year head coach saw some flashes of excellence from his team that’s still trying to find its footing in his system.

“Our defense really played tough-nose defense at times, getting backed up sometimes,” said Dukes. “Many times their offense got the ball on their side of the field and our defense stopped them on downs or forced a turnover.”

Injuries did not help as star players like Tigers running back NaTorien Holloway was not able to play in the game. Andrae and Adrian Robinson were inactive Friday night. Although having a few key players out paved a tougher road for the Tigers, Dukes is not letting injuries be an excuse for his team’s tough outing.

“It impacts it but you don’t ever make it an excuse,” he said. “Every team deals with injuries, and we hope in the next week to get some of those players back. This loss was one that was about assignment football, blocking and tackling, and we really didn’t do a great job with that tonight.”

With some of those key players coming back from injury, Dukes is looking for more consistency in his offense as the season progresses and believes improvement in the little things could lead to the improvement he is hoping to achieve. 

“Making accurate throws, making reads on time, catching the football, not fumbling the football when we catch, just completing plays and finishing drives,” said Dukes. “We got some things started and then all of a sudden we would do some things to shoot ourselves in the foot, so just finishing drives.”

Dukes mentioned that he believes wide receiver-turned-quarterback M.J. Stroud did a good job of running the ball and believes he will be a key player that will continue to grow his confidence as the season progresses. 

Moving forward, Dukes is most hoping to establish a strong running game, and Holloway and Stroud could build a formidable combination that could put up a lot of points. 

With just one game under his belt, the Dukes tenure had a shaky start but there could perhaps be brighter days just beyond the horizon, starting next Friday when Alcovy travels to play a Rockdale squad it beat in overtime last season.