Cross Creek has shown progress toward first win

What makes the 0-4 start difficult for Travis Nixon isn't so much the record, but how close his team has been to winning.

"That's probably the biggest base for my frustration," the Cross Creek coach said about the losses. "More or less, it's what we're doing or not doing that cost us at least three of our games."

Two of the defeats have come by single digits, including the 14-7 loss to Harlem in the Razorbacks' last game.

Despite the rough start, Cross Creek gets to start with a clean slate with subregion play beginning today. Nixon said nothing prior to subregion play really matters, adding: "We got to find three," regarding the number of subregion victories needed to put his team in good shape for the postseason.

The first win could come against Butler, the last unbeaten team in Region 3-AAA.

When Nixon looks at the Bulldogs, a team that has made a quick turnaround from last season, he sees reassurance of what he's doing is right and that victories will soon follow.

Butler coach Ashley Harden said he talks with Nixon about once a week and said both share the same expectations for players.

Nixon has been instilling strong work ethic on the field and in the classroom while keeping kids accountable. Some players had been unwilling to follow Nixon's philosophy and that caused his roster size to shrink from 40 down to 27.

The numbers problem forced Nixon to abandon his plan to have a different linemen play on offense and defense.

But progress is coming, especially on defense. Nixon estimated his top unit held Harlem to less than 100 yards despite the loss.

The offense, however, continues to hurt itself.

When the Razorbacks manage to pick up yardage, turnovers have stalled drives. Cross Creek is scoring only 9.8 points a game.

In the Harlem game, Nixon said running back Tarrell Wood had the ball inside the Harlem 10 but tossed it on the ground when he saw flags and thought he heard the whistle. But the play wasn't blown dead, and Harlem picked up the ball and returned it to around the Cross Creek 30.

"It's something we should already know," Wood said about the play and playing through until there's a definite whistle. "When it's crunch time, it's all or nothing."

Nixon said the challenge is making the players simulate during games what's taught to them in practice, with the responsibility tied to the coaches to make sure that happens.

While the victories haven't come just yet, Nixon understands that it could take some time, just like it did for Harden and his unbeaten Butler team.

"His kids have bought into the program," Nixon said. "I'm a year away and he's a year ahead."

More