Opp to face UMS-Wright in 1st round of playoffs

Published 10:44 pm Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Opp Bobcats will try everything in their power to “keep the ball away” from 4A powerhouse UMS-Wright tonight to win the first round in the state playoffs.

Opp (5-5) coach Jack Whigham said UMS (8-2) has a football team that plays to win games.

“They are a very steady, well-coached football team,” Whigham said. “They are disciplined. They don’t do fancy things on offense and defense. They just execute real well. They’re not going to do anything to beat themselves.

“Their offense and defense are very similar to ours,” he said. “They run the same defensive and offensive schemes we do. They’re very sound in their kicking game and they have kids who know how to win.”

For Bulldogs head coach Terry Curtis, he knows that his team has to be on the “top of their game.”

“I was very impressed watching Jack’s team play,” Curtis said. “We played Opp several years ago. I can tell they are doing it the right way. They have a sound offense and defense. They really play hard and that’s the first part of it.”

Two players from UMS, sophomore tailback Christopher Dukes and senior wide receiver William Reaves will be a concern in tonight’s game.

Whigham said in order to be successful tonight, his team will have to utilize its ground game.

“We need to avoid penalties and turnovers,” Whigham said. “We’ve got to have confidence to move the ball on them a little bit. We’re not going to be able knock them straight off the ball. We’re going to have to mix in the run and the pass.

“If we have a bunch of three-and-outs on offense, we’re going to put too much strain on our defense because they’re going to score some points,” he said. “We’ve got to limit their possessions so that we have a chance to be in striking distance and if we can do those things, we’ll be in the game in the second half. And if you’re in the game in the second half, you can never tell what’s going to happen.”

And for the Bulldogs, Curtis said simply his team will have to cut the amount of opportunities they give to their opponent.

“We are going to have to turn down the turnovers and play our game,” Curtis said. “We came off a big rival win with St. Paul’s last week.

“The first round of the playoffs is a big round,” he said. “Everybody is 0-and-0 and it’s the start of a new season.”