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Itâ€™s been a streaky season for Highlandâ€™s football team in 2013, and the Hornets are enjoying the good part right now.
After losing its first three games â€” two by a total of just nine points â€” Highland enters District 7 Six-Man play on Friday with a four-game winning streak when the Hornets (4-3) entertain Rotan (3-4) at 7:30 p.m.
And an open date last week allowed the Hornets a chance to get back to basics, according to their head coach Jeff Shelton.
â€śWe welcomed the chance to look at ourselves and the areas we need to improve,â€ť he said. â€śWe focused on im-proving our fundamentals, staying in game shape and improving our overall und-erstanding of our offensive and defensive concepts.â€ť
Shelton said improved depth has been a key to the recent success, but he wants to make sure that all of his players fully understand the teamâ€™s offensive and defensive philosophy as Highland prepares for its final three games of the season.
â€śWe never know when we are going to have to rely on a person whoâ€™s not used to getting many game reps at a position,â€ť he said. â€śLack of depth has hurt us the past two seasons, but this year I think itâ€™s an area of strength for us.â€ť
Right now Rotan is the teamâ€™s only focus, Shelton said, although Ira â€” the No. 1-ranked team in Six-Man Division I â€” and Hermleigh (4-3) are right behind.
Highlandâ€™s last game was a 76-60 win over its county rival Blackwell two weeks ago, while Rotan fell to No. 7 Rankin 56-18 last week.
â€śWeâ€™re going to have to play well (Friday),â€ť Shelton said. â€śObviously we need to tackle well in the open field and we need to take care of the football offensively.
â€śWe had way too many mental mistakes and loose footballs against Blackwell, which made a difference in the final score of that game. We need to play at top form on both sides of the ball.â€ť
Shelton said Rotan, now in its second year of play-ing six-man football, has improved from a year ago when the Yellowhammers were just 2-9 overall â€” yet still advanced to the playoffs in District 7 by beating Highland and Hermleigh.
â€śThey run multiple sets on offense and are very ag-gressive on defense,â€ť the Highland coach said. â€śLike everyone we play, they have better overall team speed and we will need to play great as a team to negate that speed.â€ť
Shelton said his team is ready for the challenge. â€śI think weâ€™re eager to get back out under the lights on Friday night,â€ť he said.