AHS vs. Opp: Round 1

Published 1:27 am Friday, October 30, 2009

Andalusia and Opp will be meeting for the 64th time this Friday night in Opp for the annual rivalry game.

The all time record for both teams is 30-30-3, and the first game was played on Nov. 22, 1945.

This week, both the Bulldogs and the Bobcats will play to end their regular seasons. Next week, they will play each other once again in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs.

Andalusia is coming off a 43-12 loss to UMS-Wright last week. UMS-Wright’s Chris Dukes rushed for 236 yards on 22 carries and scored five touchdowns to help lead his team to the victory.

It was the exact opposite for Opp (6-3, 5-2 in Class 4A, Region 2). The Bobcats won their game against Montgomery Catholic to clinch the Class 4A, Region 2 title.

Andalusia coach Brian Seymore said the next two games are important for his team.

“It is just Opp against Andalusia,” Seymore said. “I think both teams are geared up for it and both are looking forward to the game (tonight).

“It’s a significant game for us because winning the game on Friday would ensure us a winning record,” he said. “That was one of our goals, is having a winning record and making the playoffs. That’s how important it is to us.”

For Opp coach Jack Whigham, the next two weeks are essential for his team because they will determine how their approach will be going into the playoffs on Nov. 6.

“We need to end the regular season on a positive note so that it will give us confidence going into the playoffs,” Whigham said. “We need to play well this Friday night and then it’s our first round playoff game. Obviously, the significance of that is if you don’t win that game, you’re going to the house.”

Both Andalusia (5-4, 4-3 in Class 4A, Region 1) and Opp have similarities on both sides of the ball. Both are run-based teams with big defensive lines.

“We’re going to have to do a good job running the football,” Whigham said. “We’ve got to take care of the ball and not turn it over. They have a lot of big play capabilities in their offense, so if we can limit the number of possessions they have, it will go a long way to help us win the game.”

Seymore said it will come down to which team will be able to “stop the running game.”

“We both run a run-based offense and I think they’re going to try and stop our running game and we’re going to try and stop theirs,” Seymore said. “I think it will be about who can stop the other team’s running game and put them in passing situations. In that situation, you can make them rush a throw or take a sack.”

Both Seymore and Whigham said the “little” things count the most in the next two games of the season.

“Our biggest concern coming off last week to me was our tackling,” Seymore said. “I give credit to Chris Dukes — he made us miss a lot of tackles. We’ve got to do a better job of tackling. That and I think ball security.”

Both coaches say they have some players banged up and bruised — the normal situation late in the season.

In addition, both say that practice has gone well this week, despite the rain earlier in the week.

“Our kids are playing with a lot of confidence right now,” Whigham said. “We’ve won three in a row and have had our back against the wall. They’ve played just like they have all year long — as hard as they have all year long.”

As for what the environment on the team is like, Seymore said the players are ready for tonight.

“I think it will be another exciting week,” Seymore said. “I think whatever happens, you’ve got to turn around and play them again. We’re looking forward to (tonight) and I just hope for a big turnout and support from both communities.”

Kickoff in Opp is at 7 p.m.