Tigers prepare for critical region game

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 4, 2002

Two separate streaks of undefeated Tigers will bare their claws against each other on the gridiron Friday when the Straughn Tigers host the T.R. Miller Tigers. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

The No. 1-ranked T.R. Miller Tigers (1-0) come into the game after a 44-20 victory against cross-county rival Escambia County in Week 1.

Straughn (1-0) also enters the game having won against a cross-county rival in week one defeating the Pleasant Home Eagles.

T.R. Miller Head Coach Jamie Riggs views this week's game as one between two evenly matched squads and expects it to be a close game due to the importance placed on region games.

"It looks like we have our hands full," Riggs said, having watched the Straughn season-opener last Thursday night. "From what I can tell they are a very well-coached team.

"They have some very good skill people and some of their skill people are better than ours," Riggs added. "As a group, they are at least as good as us."

The Straughn defense also left its mark on Riggs' mind.

"The aggressiveness of their linebackers impress us," Riggs said.

Riggs said whichever team takes care of the ball and wins the kicking game or battle of field position will have the upper hand on Friday.

He also said playing at Straughn Stadium will give the Straughn Tigers a home-field advantage.

"They seem to play really well over there and it's a great place to play," Riggs said. "I'm a little unsure about going over there. I don't know if Trent has a trap set for us."

Straughn Head Coach Trent Taylor said his players must improve from the Pleasant Home game.

"If we are going to compete in Region 1 and at this level we have to get better," Taylor said.

T.R. Miller has a strong tradition when it comes to high school football and they have a scheme that works well for them, Taylor said.

"When you look at them offensively, they don't do a lot of things but they do it well and the same can be said for the defense," Taylor said.

Knowing what a team is going to do and stopping it are two different things.

"If the kids who have on black Friday night play up their potential we match up pretty well. If they don't, we don't match up," Taylor said. "I'm no genius. Every coach who has played them knows everything I know. They do it well and that makes it tremendously difficult."

Straughn must win the battle in the trenches against T.R. Miller.

"If our defensive line will perform, then we can be in a position to be in the football game," Taylor said. "If not, it'll be a long night."

Playing the No. 1 team in the state in Class 3A is both a challenge and an opportunity for the Straughn Tigers.

"T.R. Miller has had that target on their backs for a long time," Taylor said. "They're used to being where they are at right now. They know everybody will give it their all. They've earned that type of respect."

Riggs said his players are aware that being ranked No. 1 motivates the opposition.

"They put that bulls-eye on our backs every once in a while," Riggs said. "It's something we have to live with."

Friday's game is one of the special ones.

"These are the games that are fun," Taylor said. "This is what high school football is all about from the standpoint of a fan, the standpoint of a band member, the standpoint of a coach and the standpoint of a player."

The bottom line is that the game will be decided by the basics.

"They know what we are going to and we know what they're going to do," Taylor said. "It comes down to execution."