Miscues marred Minden’s first significant action of the season Friday at Independence Stadium.
The Airline Vikings had their way with the Crimson Tide and their overhauled starting lineup on the scorched turf field, taking advantage of Minden’s every mistake and winning going away 27-0.
“We knew coming in we were inexperienced in some spots,” Tide head coach Spencer Heard said. “It’s good to have this extra scrimmage to go back and look at the film and make some corrections, to take a look at the personnel and see if we need to change some things.”
Minden quarterback Seth Tyler, under pressure from the opening snap, tossed three interceptions and the Tide’s retooled defense had a tough time tackling Airline’s plethora of weapons.
The Tide managed a pair of first downs on their first possession before an attempted screen was picked off by a Viking linebacker when Tyler’s pass sailed high. Airline cashed in after only two plays from 31 yards out on the ground. The extra point was good, making the score 7-0.
The Tide’s next two series would end with interceptions as well, the second of which came at the Viking 11-yard line when an Airline defender hit Tyler’s arm on the throw. The contact caused the pass to wobble high into the air where a Viking defensive back plucked it and ran untouched for the score to bring Airline’s advantage to 21-0.
“We need to do a better job in pass protection,” Heard said. “When you get down there you have to punch it in.”
All the while, Minden’s running game, featuring newcomers Zach Gage and TJ Arrington, was nullified by the stout Viking front seven. Patrick Heard managed to find a sliver of running room on one first-down carry, and Tyler hit the speedy senior for a nice gain on a well-executed screen, but the Tide as a whole failed to match Airline’s consistency and, perhaps more importantly, physicality.
It was a much of the same for the Minden defense. Often times, players were in position to make tackles but whiffed or allowed too many yards after contact.
“We’ve got to get more physical across the board,” Heard said. “Offense, defense, O-Line, skill guys; that’s going to be one of the focuses of practice this week.”
The good news for Heard and his team goes as follows: this one didn’t count in the win-loss column, they know where they need to improve and they have another scrimmage and then the Pineland Jamboree to work out the kinks.
Minden will travel to Captain Shreve Thursday for a 6 p.m. scrimmage with the Gators. It will be interesting to see how much difference six days can make.