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Tough ‘road’ ahead

This Friday night will mark the beginning of a new half of the 2009 football season for the Andalusia Bulldogs as they travel to play No. 1 Thomasville.

Having already played five games, three of which were region games against B.C. Rain, W.S. Neal and Jackson, the Bulldogs sit at 3-2 overall and 2-1 in Class 4A, Region 1.

Before defeating B.C. Rain and W.S. Neal, Andalusia started out its season win a 20-7 victory over city rival Straughn.

Andalusia coach Brian Seymore said it felt pretty good to get out to a fast 3-0 start.

“After that, we knew that the tougher opponents were coming,” Seymore said. “There wasn’t any doubt about it. Playing in Region 1 is tough week in and week out.

“I’m very pleased that we came out and established ourselves and beat Straughn,” he said. “It was important that we got a victory that and then we opened up with a region win against B.C. Rain.”

The most recent two games against No. 10 Jackson on Sept. 18 and No. 5 Greenville (Class 5A) last week are the only two losses for the Bulldogs this season.

“Against Jackson I think the culmination of mistakes and breakdowns on special teams cost us,” Seymore said. “We’ve addressed that since then. With Greenville, you couldn’t have played a much better first half. In the second half, I think it was a lack of execution sometimes.

“As a whole right now and as a coaching staff, I feel like we are where we need to be going into the second half of the season because it’s where a majority of our region games are,” he said.

Seymore said the team knows what “we need to do in order to make the playoffs.”

Right now, the Bulldogs are tied for second with UMS-Wright because both teams have lost a game in the region race.

Thomasville defeated UMS-Wright, 42-37, on Sept. 4.

Andalusia has four region games left this season. Three of the four are on the road.

Seymore said he believes his team will be mentally prepared for each game.

“I think our kids especially think they can win,” he said. “Our kids expect to go over (to Thomasville) and play well. I think our kids especially think they can win.

“They match up well with them,” he said. “When you look at the other two places … you have the defending state champions at UMS-Wright — they speak for themselves. Clarke County was in the playoffs last year. It doesn’t get any easier, but in turn, it’s a challenge for our kids because they know what they have to do to qualify for the playoffs.”

On what the team has done well on both sides of the ball, Seymore said it all lies with overcoming adversity.

“Defensively, I like the physical aspect of our players,” Seymore said. “I think we’re very physical against bigger teams. I think our kids matched up well physically and that’s a credit to the work on the weight room.

“Offensively, to overcome the injuries we’ve overcame at a pivotal position at quarterback, I think our guys have done a pretty good job,” he said. “I think Deion (Akins) has played very consistently and has gotten better every week.”

Seymore said the one game that sticks out in his mind as the most important in the second half of the season will be this week’s match-up against Thomasville.

“I think this week is a pivotal game,” he said. “I think our kids are going to be excited Friday night and I know that coach (Jack) Hankins has a good group at Thomasville. We feel like we have something to prove and hopefully our kids will go out there and prove it.”