Dutch Fork head coach challenges team after non-region struggles

Posted 9/23/23

Dutch Fork’s football season has not started the way the team is used to, and head coach Tom Knotts said it is time he made some changes. 

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Dutch Fork head coach challenges team after non-region struggles


Dutch Fork’s football season has not started the way the team is used to, and head coach Tom Knotts said it is time he made some changes. 

“I think we've got some things we need to work through,” Knotts said. “I think we need to get rid of a few players. I need to pull a coach prime and probably should have done it at first, but you know, this is high school and you want to give kids a second and a third. But I'm not doing that anymore.”

The Silver Foxes dropped their fourth game of the season Friday night after losing to Weddington (N.C.) 17-14. The team’s 2-4 record is the worst start to a season for Dutch Fork since 2009. 

“We just fell apart offensively,” Knotts said. “We couldn't throw it, we couldn't run a route, we couldn't call a good play, you know, it was just a terrible game by me.”

The problems that have plagued the team all season were present in the game against Weddington. After jumping to a 14-0 first-half lead, the Silver Foxes were outscored 17-0 in the second half. 

New faces filling large roles have led to a major adjustment period for the Dutch Fork offense. New starting quarterback Ethan Offing has had an up-and-down season. 

He has solid stats, throwing for 726 yards and 6 touchdowns through the first five games. But he’s also made his share of mistakes, including two big ones in the loss to Weddington. 

Offing threw an interception to Weddington’s Caleb Hill on the final play of the third quarter. Weddington later took the ball downfield to tie the game at 14.

Then, with under 6 minutes left in the game and his team trailing by a field goal, Offing launched a ball downfield on second and short. The pass ended up in the hands of the other team, and Weddington ran the clock out to seal the win.

“Quarterback's got to know he can't throw flat long balls,” Knotts said. “He's got a great arm. He just got to get some experience.”

Knotts added that many of Offing’s problems aren't completely in his control, saying the offensive line needs to be better.

“He's got to bear down in practice, he's got to learn the protections, he's got to hear what we're doing,” Knotts said. “Then when he gets it right, the protection breaks down. We just have never clicked other than that first quarter.”

To turn its season around the team needs to play better offensively. When the offense is rolling, Dutch Fork wins. The Silver Foxes scored 54 and 41 points in their wins but failed to crack 20 points in all four of their losses. 

This has created added pressure for the team’s defense to play near perfect. Other than its opening season blowout loss to Colquitt County, Dutch Fork’s defense has held its opponents to under 20 points. 

The defense made huge momentum-shifting plays against Weddington, but the offense failed to capitalize on these opportunities. Dutch Fork’s defense forced two turnovers in the second quarter, but the Silver Foxes scored no points off these plays. 

By the time the game was over, Dutch Fork's defense was gassed and could not slow down Weddington’s run game.  

“They played good enough to win,” Knotts said. “I can't fault the defense except for that third and ten where we played too loose down here … just ran out of gas, and offense didn't, and I didn't support them.”

Despite the worrisome start to the seasons, Knotts is still confident his team can succeed in region play and beyond. The Silver Foxes end their season with region games against White Knoll, Chapin and Lexington. 

Dutch Fork will have next week off before playing its first road game since week one on Oct. 6 at 7:30 p.m. when the team travels to take on White Knoll.

“I still think it's going to be the greatest story ever,” Knotts said. “I still believe that. I hope they believe it. We're just going to have to jettison a few seniors and move along. We've tried our hardest, but some just aren't doing quite what they're supposed to.”

Dutch Fork Football, Ethan Offing, Weddington, Caleb Hill, Tom Knotts


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