Opp to continue region play in Ashford

Published 11:59 pm Thursday, October 1, 2009

Hanging on to the football will be the name of the game tonight as Opp travels to play region opponent Ashford.

Last week, the Opp Bobcats defeated Straughn 20-7 for the first time in school history.

After the game, the players led their fans in raucous cheers in front of the final scoreboard and rushed across the field before raising their helmets at the 50-yard-line. The Bobcats (2-3, 1-2 in Class 4A, Region 2) had previously lost to Straughn (2-3) in the first five meetings.

“It was big to get that win,” Opp coach Jack Whigham said. “It was a tremendous lift to our football team. We had been down a little bit. Straughn is a very well coached team and is a quality team.

“Anytime you can beat somebody like that, it’s obviously a shot in the arm,” he said.

Whigham said his team would not beat Ashford if they keep turning the ball over.

“We can’t do that,” he said. “If we don’t turn the ball over, it’ll give us a great chance to win. We’ve got to contain that running back and receiver Michael Ray. He’s got tremendous speed.

“Overall, they’ll have the most speed out of anybody we’ve played so far,” he said.

He added that Ashford is a “big play” team that has the ability to score quickly.

“They don’t drive the ball down the field,” Whigham said. “They have the long runs, interception returns and stuff like that. Last week, they scored four touchdowns of more than 60 yards.”

Whigham said Ashford runs an “I-formation” offense, along with the shotgun.

At practice this week, the main focus has been trying to contain Ray.

“We want to contain their speed and get a lot of people to the ball and not let them break the run and pass,” he said. “These folks have tremendous speed and we’ve got to get players around the ball.”

Whigham said it’s been a good week at practice and the environment has been uplifting.

“The kids feel a little bit better about themselves,” he said. “The football season is a long haul. We’ve got five more weeks and we can play with anybody we’ve got left on our schedule. It’s just a matter of trying to improve day by day and looking at the long term at what we can accomplish if we can continue to work hard.”

Kickoff in Ashford is at 7 p.m.