Teams prepare for playoff games

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 14, 2003

Bobcats host Hornets "It starts at 7 o'clock and we need a good crowd," Opp Head Football Coach Jeff Rhodes said about Friday night's first-round playoff game against the Beauregard Hornets.

Opp (8-2) enters the game coming off a win against the rival Andalusia Bulldogs. Rhodes hopes to see the same type of crowd and support from BObcat fans this Friday night against the Hornets (7-3).

He said the Hornets do not live up to their nickname because the offense does not rely on an air attack.

Rhodes, however, did point out that the Hornets have stung several opponents this season with the three losses coming against good teams in Loachapoka, Southside-Selma and Trinity.

Rhodes said the Hornets have been successful running the ball and rely on the "three yards and a cloud of dust" rule.

"They are physical," he said. "Their plays are inside and power plays. It's all power. They just hit the A, B, and C gaps. Then, they run the same thing and run it to both sides."

Rhodes said on film the Hornets are very methodical and if a play earns a five-yard gain the defense can expect to see the exact same play on the down.

The quarterback, Lardarius Webb, and running back Cornelius Myhand pick up most of the yards for the Hornets offense.

Webb has rushed for 560 yards and 7 touchdowns this season on 85 carries. He has also completed 19 of 49 passes for 405 yards and 7 touchdowns.

Myhand rushed for 652 yards and 8 touchdowns on 113 carries during the regular season.

Ken Dowell also gets the ball on offense and has amassed 486 yards and 4 touchdowns on 79 carries.

Rhodes said the Hornets' offense may look simple, but the players execute which makes it difficult to stop.

"They don't make many mistakes and play good fundamental football," Rhodes said. "They are just good at playing power football with lots of long drives."

One key for the Bobcats will be limiting the offense to prevent those long drives. Rhodes said he needs his offense on the field and that means the defense will have to find a way to stop the Hornets' rushing attack.

"The key is for us to shutdown the run and make them pass the ball," Rhodes said. "You won't ever see them pass unless you stop the run.

"We need to sustain some drives (on offense) and play mistake-free football."

Rhodes also said the Bobcats cannot get a slow start or come out flat in the second half.

"We have to play four quarters of football on both sides of the football," he said. "I think both teams are good and whoever shows up ready to play mistake-free football and plays four quarters will win."

Last week's top players in the win against Andalusia were OL Alphonso Harris, DL Alex Wilkerson, OB Jaquez henderson and DB Holt Parker.

Jason Stanley earned the Hammer Award last week.

Tigers take aim at Squadron

Crystal Springs Park Stadium will be rocking this Friday night when the Red Level Tigers (8-2) host a first-round high school football playoff game against the Flying Squadron (7-3) from Highland Home.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Admission is $6 as set by the Alabama High School Athletic Association.

Tiger fans, however, do not have to wait until 7 p.m. to show their support and make some noise for their favorite team. The school will hold a pep rally at 2:30 p.m.

Red Level Head Coach Tim Grimes is excited for his team and the opportunity to be in the playoffs, but he knows the Tigers will face a tough opponent.

"Man, they just have great athletes at every position," Grimes said. "They play in the toughest Class 2A region in the state and are playing the best football in the state right now.

"We're just glad to be playing," Grimes added.

The Tigers are glad to be playing, but they do not want the season to end in the first round of the playoffs.

Grimes said to keep the season alive the Tigers must play top-notch football Friday.

"We've just got to do a better job of tackling and running to the football," he said. "If we don't, Highland Home will embarrass us."

He said the key for the Tigers will be hanging onto the football and eliminating turnovers. Grimes said the Red Level also must find a way to limit the Flying Squadron's rushing attack.

Quarterback Jeremy Robinson and 240-pound running back Julius Delaney will be the main targets for the Red Level defense, Grimes said.

"I think we'll have some success as long as we execute," Grimes said. "If we execute and carry out our assignments I feel we can play with anybody."

Grimes said it will not be easy, but the Tigers have a chance to advance to the second round.

"It's going to be a hard-fought game," Grimes said. "My prediction is the one who wants it the most will win.

"We're very evenly matched," he added.

Straughn plays No. 1 Tarrant in first round

The Straughn Tigers travel to Tarrant for a first-round high school football playoff game this week. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday in Tarrant.

The Tigers (7-3) will leave today and spend the night at Jeff State Community College. The team will practice Friday morning before going to a movie and eating lunch. The Tigers will then suit up for their date with the Wildcats.

Tarrant (10-0) is ranked No. 1 in Class 3A in the final Alabama Sports Writers Association Poll garnering 12 first-place votes. Straughn is not ranked in the poll.

Straughn Head Coach Trent Taylor said the Wildcats are very talented and unlike any team the Tigers faced during the regular season.

"I don't know if you can compare them to anybody we played this year they run the spread (offense) so well," Taylor said.

He said the Wildcats boast "tremendous" athletes at quarterback and running back

which make the offense very explosive.

"They will throw a little quick stuff out there and kill you," Taylor said. "They have done that to some people this season.

"Offensively, they have a lot of weapons," he added.

On defense, Taylor said the Wildcats swarm to the pigskin.

"Defensively, they have a lot of great skilled athletes in the secondary who run to the ball well," Taylor said. "Their defensive front is good, too."

The Tigers will look to take advantage of the Wildcats aggressiveness on defense with passes off play action.

Taylor said going undefeated proves the Wildcats have a

good team.

"If you go 10-0, I don't care who you play, good or bad, it's still impressive," Taylor said. "You have to be on top of your game every week."

The game will have an electric atmosphere and Taylor said last week's rivalry game against Red Level should help his squad. He also said mistakes could determine the winner.

"I think the key Friday night is going to be the team that doesn't turn the ball over will have an advantage," Taylor said.

Wildcats play No. 7 American Christian in Tuscaloosa

A three-hour bus ride followed by a trip to a museum and a tour of a smelly locker room does not sound like a fun time to most high school students.

Then again, most high school students are not members of the Florala High School varsity football team.

The Wildcats will leave for Tuscaloosa at 8:30 a.m. on Friday. Head Coach Doug Vickery said the Wildcats will visit the Bryant Museum on the campus of the University of Alabama upon arrival in Tuscaloosa. The players and coaches will then tour the Crimson Tide's locker room and weightroom before going to get lunch.

The team will then begin preparations for the 7 p.m. first-round playoff game against American Christian. The game will be played at Central High School in Tuscaloosa.

The game will pit the Wildcats against the undefeated and No. 7-ranked American Christian Patriots.

Vickery said it will be a tough game, but one the Wildcats can win.

"They are a good football team," Vickery said. "If you are 10-0 you are going to be good.

"They have two running backs who can go," he added. "They can play. They are not real fancy. They run the outside veer and the option."

Vickery said the Wildcats must execute on both sides of the ball.

"We are going to have to play assignment football to beat them," he said. "Maybe they are overlooking us because we are the number four team from our region.

"We are playing our best football right now. We played well down the stretch," he added. "This is going to be a learning experience (being in the playoffs), but we feel we have an opportunity to win this game Friday."

Vickery said the seniors on the team have worked hard he is happy for them and proud of them for their hard work and leadership.

Vickery said seniors Jabin Goldstein, Marcus Scofield, Mark Geohagen, Kelvin Lewis and A.J. Thompson have helped build a foundation for the future success of the football program.

"They've been the backbone for the team," Vickery said. "They've meant a lot to me too personally because of what they've been through with instability, losing streaks and coaching changes."

The Wildcats are excited about being in the playoffs, but not satisfied with just making it into the postseason.

Vickery said the players want to win and have come together during the season, especially the second half of the season.

Now, the Wildcats want to win just five more games.