First-year McIntosh County Academy head football coach Terell Toomer doesn’t need to motivate his players for Friday’s game, even though their opponent, the Claxon Tigers, is on an 18-game losing streak.

Instead, Toomer said his players understand the extra motivation a team like Claxon has. And it’s not just about ending a losing streak.

Claxon, 0-6, lost 48-13 at McIntosh Academy a year ago. Toomer, who has been on the receiving end of a lopsided loss or two, knows the players still on that Tigers team remember. Earlier this season, a motivated Jenkins County team avenged last year’s 38-0 loss to McIntosh, defeating the Bucaneers 22-18.

“We saw that this year from Jenkins,” he said. “You could tell those guys wanted it. We’ve gotten everyone’s best game.”

Toomer still has McIntosh, 2-3 overall and 1-1 in Region 3-A play, basically running the same system as the one he took over this year. He still runs a 3-4 defense, but he has run the ball more this year.

He has also made some changes to special teams, and players are doing heavier lifting in the weight room.

“What we’re doing is still sticking to our schedule,” he said. “We’ve got to prepare the same way. I don’t think there’s a whole lot to say.”

Quarterback Denver Anthony has shown steady improvement during the season, Toomer said. Anthony completed three of 15 passes the first game of the season. His past game, he completed 17 of 26 passes for 258 yards, he said.

“His confidence is growing,” he said. “I’m loving the fact we’re getting better.”

Despite being in a new region created two years ago, Toomer said the teams have played each other many times in the past, and there is no big learning curve to better understand his opponents.

“We’ve been together the past two years,” he said. “We’re all old foes. We’re familiar with the schools.”