Tigers vs. Tigers

Published 8:14 pm Thursday, October 16, 2008

The No. 3 Straughn Tigers (7-0, 5-0 in Class 3A, Region 1) will head out on the road to Brewton tonight to take on No. 1 T.R. Miller (7-0, 5-0), their toughest region opponent this year.

Going into this game, Straughn has won one away game this season, while the rest of its wins have been at home.

“Last year, at halftime it was 13-13,” Straughn coach Trent Taylor said. “Coaches always say that it comes down to special teams. But when you look at this game, over the years going back to 2002 — except for a couple of years there where Miller just manhandled us — you can always go back in those games and find a special teams play that turned the game around. That was the case last year.”

In last year’s game, a 30-13 Miller win, Miller blocked three punts and also had a big kickoff return.

Miller head coach Jamie Riggs said Friday night’s game is unusual because both teams are undefeated in Week 8 of the regular season.

“Well I think it’s probably very unusual that both teams are undefeated this late in the season,” Riggs said. “If you look right now at the number of teams that haven’t lost yet, there are not that many of them out there. I know that we’ve always had a really good rivalry with them since we started playing them about seven years ago. We’ve had some great games so I look for this one to be very similar to that.”

Riggs said that in order for his team to be successful, they’ll have to watch out for Straughn’s senior quarterback Ryne Taylor, senior running back Andrew Stokes and wide receiver Jakim Felton.

“Obviously on offense their quarterback Ryne Taylor is a great player,” Riggs said. “He really makes what they do on offense go. In their spread offense, what makes those things good is when a quarterback can both run and throw the ball.

“Andrew Stokes is a really tough kid and does a good job of running the ball for them up there,” he said. “They’ve got a big receiver who has had a really good year for them as well.”

Taylor has completed 66 passes for 959 yards and completed 12 receptions for touchdowns. Running the ball, he has 65 carries for 369 total yards, four touchdowns and an average of 61.5 yards per game. Stokes has 78 carries for 488 yards, 10 touchdowns and averages 81.3 yards per game. Felton has 23 catches, 285 total yards, six touchdowns and averages 47.5 yards per game.

Riggs said the difference between this year’s team and last year’s team — which finished 5-6 — is experience.

“I think probably this time last year, we were 4-3 and we were struggling in a lot of areas,” Riggs said. “The difference this year is that we’ve had some close games again, but we’ve found a way to win the game, so I think that’s primarily the difference in the two years and hopefully that will continue.”

In order for Straughn to be successful, Taylor said his team will have to watch out for running backs Matt Lane and Cortez Banks in addition to wide receiver Terez Lane.

“Terez is probably the best receiver we’ve faced all year,” Taylor said. “Most people think that Miller’s not a passing football team, but I can assure you that they’ll find ways to get him the football.”

Taylor said he believes that his team will face Miller again at some point in the playoffs.

“I believe that there will be a rematch to this game at some point in the playoffs where both T.R. Miller and Straughn will take care of business,” he said. “At the same time, we’re going to have only one football game (to worry about Friday).”

Kickoff in Brewton is at 7 p.m.