Andalusia to close against Opp

Published 1:04 am Thursday, October 30, 2008

Andalusia will play host to Opp Friday night for another chapter in the longtime rivalry.

The Bulldogs (1-8, 1-6 in Class 4A, Region 1) and the Bobcats (5-4, 5-2 in Class 4A, Region 2) hope to put everything aside and just play football.

Following last Friday night’s loss to UMS-Wright, Andalusia head coach Brian Seymore said his team will be ready for Opp.

“I feel like our team’s going to be ready,” Seymore said. “I don’t think this has to do with records and I think this is a big rival game. Our kids are excited about it and I think we’ve had a good week at practice. It’s been real physical.

“Both teams are running football teams and both teams are going to try and impose their will on the other team,” he said. “Who can run the ball more steadily, who can stop the run and who gives up the big plays and turnovers. That’s what it’s going to come down to.”

Bobcats head coach Jack Whigham said Andalusia has talent despite what their record portrays.

“They are a very good football team regardless of what their record says,” Whigham said. “They still have the same players they’ve been having. They have outstanding athletes and have had some bad breaks turning the ball over some and that’s caused them to get behind in some games.

“I think their defense is outstanding and they obviously have the Division 1 player on defense (Nico Johnson),” he said. “Chris Kelley is a really good player and the sophomore linebacker No. 45 (Johnnie Jones) is a really good linebacker in addition to Nico.”

Whigham added that if Andalusia was in Opp’s region, they would have had a more successful season.

“So, I really believe if they were in our region, they would have won several games,” he said.

At practice for Andalusia, Seymore said that past mistakes have kept players mindful of what they need to do to secure the ball.

“It’s been a steady grind,” Seymore said. “It’s a very good reminder to tuck the ball away and when you get in traffic, put two hands on it. A lot of that stuff is extra effort and a lot of that stuff is trying to help the team. Sometimes you lose a lot of your focus and that ball gets knocked loose. That’s been an Achilles’ heel for us all year long, but hopefully we can limit those on Friday and take care of the football.”

In order to be successful Friday night, Whigham said taking control early in the game is a must.

“We’ve got to control the clock and we’ve got to stop their running game,” Whigham said. “They are more than capable of throwing the ball, but we’ve got to stop the option game. If we don’t stop the option game and they keep the ball all night, we won’t score enough points to win.”

Friday night will be a special night for seniors on both teams.

Seymore said he hopes the seniors enjoy their last game in the stadium.

“It’s the last week for the seniors and I want it to be a special time for them,” Seymore said. “It’s a special time for them. It’s big because we’ve got two close communities and two really good programs. I just want these guys to soak it up and enjoy the game.”