Last week's win can do so much for the Orioles.
After beating Wellington for the first win in 12 games, the Orioles are going about practice for their home game this week against Clearwater with a new ray of hope.
“It gives us that much more confidence and belief in our coaches and teammates,” Connor Hurst said about the win.
“It takes a lot of weight off the shoulders,” Tristan Finch added.
Finch, who got his first win as the starting quarterback, was the one on defense who jumped a slant route after reading the quarterback's eyes for a late interception to help seal the Orioles' win. He said the defensive backs have vastly improved since the start of the season.
“We're starting to talk more, which I think is helping us a lot. We're getting our assignments down a little better, starting to get the flow,” Finch said.
The defense probably was the biggest difference in Augusta's win versus its two losses, especially the way it played in the second half.
“We didn't quit. We didn't do what we did in the Circle game and quit after halftime,” Greg Slaton said.
“We came with a passion on defense in the second half. A lot of three-and-outs, that was the main difference,” Colby Willis said.
Willis, who moved to nose guard in the second half, said the Orioles also were better conditioned. Slaton said the Orioles improved getting pressure late in the game. The defense produced two key turnovers, including a late fumble recovery, and a goal-line stand.
To replicate that success against Clearwater, the Orioles' defense will have to finish strongly again. The Indians can pound the ball with the run, and now they're mixing in some new wrinkles, possibly some passing. Slaton, who was in on a couple of sacks last week, said the defensive line will be put to the test.
“It's really key to put pressure on them so our DBs don't have to cover as long,” Slaton said.
Slaton finished with five tackles, as did Preston Patterson and Brett Hamilton. Finch led the Orioles with eight. Hurst had seven. Goken and Roy Chen both had six tackles. Chen had a sack.
For a lot of these players, this was their first win. But they don't want to be satisfied with simply avoiding going winless. They want to do more damage and get this program back on track. And, of course, winning cures all.
“It was huge, especially being a senior and not winning last year,” senior Tanner Brown said. “With the underclassmen, it means they have something to look forward to. They have a win under their belt. They know what it feels like.”
Offensively, the Orioles put together some good numbers last week. They had a 4.0 ypc average and finished with 204 total rushing yards. Trae Goken led the way with 90 of those yards and scored both touchdowns.
Page 2 of 2 - The Orioles are hoping to build off what they accomplished and even start a winning streak. They'll get a good chance to do just that at home Friday night.