Linden-Kildare Tigers bringing 0-0 mindset into district schedule

The Linden-Kildare Tigers are ahead in the turnover margin plus-9 after a 5-0 start with the defense forcing 14 takeaways and the offense giving up just five possessions.

LINDEN, Texas — After a 5-0 start in non-district play, the Linden-Kildare Tigers are adopting an 0-0 mindset heading into their district opener with Honey Grove Friday.

“We had a meeting this morning after our weightlifting and basically told them you can throw records out the window now,” head coach Derek Simmons said on the weekly “Coaches Show” Monday from Uncle Juan’s on Courthouse Square. “Everybody starts today 0-0. And [we talked] how important it is for us to get off to a fast start.”

Like Linden-Kildare (5-0), Honey Grove (3-2) had an off week, thus giving them two weeks to prepare for the Tigers, the first game both teams in the 2A Region III District 9 schedule.

“It’s going to be a challenge, and the first group I challenged today when we got done was our defense,” Simmons explained. “I told them they had been looking at the Maud game for two weeks and they’re going to try to duplicate what Maud did to us in the fourth quarter and just get downhill and try to mash us. But I think our guys are going to be up to it.”

The Tigers secondary has snagged eight total interceptions through five games with two of them belonging to Jacob Owen. However, the Warriors won’t be slinging the ball around the yard as they have a more smash-mouth offensive philosophy.

Said Simmons: “They’re a typical Gary Schultz-coached team. They’re going to come right at you. They’ll go with the Power-I. They’ll go with some two-tight [end] stuff… What I see is some hard-nosed kids. They’ve got some good athletes in the backfield. They got a freshman at quarterback who is getting better every week.”

Honey Grove starts off a district schedule that includes formidable competition. Also sitting at 5-0 through non-district play are Wolfe City and Rivercrest, a team that Coach Simmons says is the “team to beat until somebody knocks them off.” For these reasons, Coach Simmons has emphasized to his kids how much of a dogfight district play will be during the team’s off week, a term he loathes to use.

“We tried not to use the word ‘off week,'” Simmons said. “It’s a week obviously that you want to use to get healthy and we were probably 98 percent healthy going into our open week. Took a couple days off for the kids to let them regroup a little bit. Let the coaches regroup a little bit too because it’s been a long stretch up to this point. You’re fortunate when you have that open week right in the middle of the season.

Listen to the Tigers take on Honey Grove Friday live on with Marlon Sullivan and Pat Roberson on the call. Catch the replay Saturday at 9:30 a.m. on KPYN 900 AM/95.5 FM.