Straughn, Opp rumble Friday

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 26, 2002

Pride is on the line for the Opp Bobcats and the Straughn Tigers this Friday night when they meet on the gridiron at Channell-Lee Stadium.

Both teams call Covington County home and the winner will earn bragging rights.

The Class 4A Opp Bobcats enter the contest with a 2-2 record and fresh off a win against Bullock County last Friday night.

The Class 3A Straughn Tigers put their perfect 4-0 record and No. 8-ranking on the line in the most important game of the season. Yes, once again this is the most important game of the season for the Tigers. Why? It is the most important game because as Straughn Head Coach Trent Taylor said, "It's the next one."

Taylor and Opp Head Coach Jeff Rhodes both had only good things to say about each other's squad going into the game.

Rhodes summed up Straughn by describing team as a winner.

"Straughn has got it going on," Rhodes said. "They are the team to beat right now.

"They are finding a way to win every week," he added.

Rhodes said Straughn quarterback Justin Bracewell and running back Michael Hobbs are having a good season and the Bobcats will have to limit their production.

Taylor described Opp as a team with tons of talent and a hard-running fullback.

"After watching film of them, they have a really talented football team," Taylor said. "The (Brock) Kelley kid at fullback is tough. The yardage he has is hard-earned. He is not running sweeps around the end. He's a big strong kid."

Taylor said Kelley fits the Mike Alstott and Jerome Bettis mold with the ability to shed tacklers while running north and south.

Kelley is not an east and west runner who uses speed to get to the outside and outrun would-be tacklers. He is more of a battering ram who hits the hole and four or five would-be tacklers later has a five-yard gain.

Taylor said Opp also has talented tailbacks who have been impressive at times this season.

Turnovers have plagued Opp, and both Taylor and Rhodes were quick to point that out.

"If not for a turnover or two they would have beaten Dale County," Taylor said.

He also said Dale County and Daleville look like the teams to beat in Opp's region.

Rhodes said turnovers and injuries have hurt the Bobcats in 2002.

Now, however, Opp has everyone healthy and the goal is to eliminate turnovers.

"We've finally got everybody back healthy," Rhodes said. "Our biggest thing all year has been turnovers.

"We've put up a lot of big numbers (in total offense)," he added. "We just haven't put up a lot of points."

Opp must hang on to the ball against Straughn.

"We have to play our best game," Rhodes said.

Taylor said the key for the Tigers will be stopping Opp's option. The Bobcats run a veer-option offense that was commonplace about five years ago, but is now something few teams use.

The rarity of the option attack means the Tiger defense must play smart, assignment-football against an offense the Tigers have not seen a lot of this season.

"It's definitely going to be stopping them," Taylor said when asked what the key to the game is for his Tigers.

Rhodes said this game means a lot to everyone involved for several reasons. First, the players know each other and are in contact with each other. The winner will be able to hold his head up a little bit higher. Second, the game pits two brothers against each other.

Taylor will be on the opposite sideline of his younger brother, Ray Wilson, who is an assistant coach for Opp.

"Anytime you play someone close to home you want to beat them because you see them around town," Rhodes said. "I think it will be a good game and bring out the best in both teams."

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

Also, the Straughn vs. Central-Hayneville game originally scheduled to be played in Hayneville has been reschedule to be played at Straughn with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 4.