Straughn to vie for 3rd round
As the late afternoon sun set over Straughn’s football team Tuesday, the only thing that was on the minds of each player was this week’s second round, Class 4A playoffs match up against top-ranked Thomasville this Friday night.
Straughn will hit U.S. Highway 84 in what many sports enthusiasts say will be its final game of the season.
SHS coach Trent Taylor said his players aren’t thinking about the prospect of a loss.
“We’re excited about being here, but at the same time we’re not going to say, ‘hey, nobody expected us to be here and look at what we’ve done,'” Taylor said. “Our kids want to continue to do more. With that said, we have prepared for what they do. We’re going to line up, and give it our best shot.”
Last week, Straughn came back from a 32-20 deficit to beat UMS-Wright 36-32, scoring 16 unanswered points to advance in the playoffs.
This week, Straughn (10-1) will face a Thomasville team that remains flawless this season in the win column.
Thomasville’s wing-T offense is led by senior 215-pound running back Michael Thornton, and junior 218-pound running back Tyler Hayes. Sophomore Tevin Watters takes the snaps at quarterback, and likes to throw to Hayes, reports from the Press-Register indicate. In addition, Thomasville has two offensive linemen near the 300-pound weight mark.
“They have great size where you’re supposed to be big, and even big in places where your not supposed to be big,” Taylor said. “Their offensive line — man-for-man — is as big as any offensive line that we’ve faced this year.”
Taylor said in addition to Thomasville’s size, they have speed in all the right places.
“They’re fast in all of the places where you’re supposed to be fast,” he said. “You’ve got the total deal. If you look at them on film on defense, there’s not a single linemen with a number 1-49. That tells you too that they have pretty good speed on that side of the ball on the defensive line.”
Straughn’s option offense attack is led by senior quarterback Josh Dewrell, and sophomore running back Chase Short.
Short leads the team in rushing with 893 yards on 131 carries and has scored eight touchdowns this season. Dewrell is second with 832 yards on 150 carries and 19 touchdowns.
In receiving, senior Austin Pickrel has 11 catches for 309 yards and four touchdowns.
“Straughn is 10-1 for a reason, and that’s because they’ve got a good football team,” THS coach Jack Hankins said. “They’re very well-coached, very disciplined and their players play hard. We have the utmost respect for coach Taylor and what they’ve done this year.
“We’ll have to play our best to have a chance to beat them,” he said.
Hankins said the big key in trying to stop Straughn’s offense this Friday will be to “slow them down.”
“The key is to try and slow them down and prevent them from trying to make the big plays,” he said. “Their backs are fast enough that they can score from anywhere on the field, which was evident enough from last week.”
Taylor said in order to stop Thomasville’s wing-T attack, the defense will have to stick with their “assignments.”
“The thing about wing-T is that it’s very similar to what we do, in that from a defensive stand point, you’ve got to be assignment conscious,” Taylor said. “There is so much ball faking going on in the back field. They’ve got to read their keys, and be where they’re supposed to be — just being real disciplined on the defensive side of the ball.”
Hankins re-iterated how much his team will have to play its best against Straughn this week.
“When we look at Straughn, we don’t see any weaknesses,” he said. “We see a good — like I said — a good well-coached and disciplined football team. We’ll have to play our best to beat them.”
As the light began to fade over the practice field at Straughn Tuesday afternoon, Taylor crouched and said he observed his team correcting the mistakes that needed to be corrected, and watched his players turn their focus on Thomasville.
“It’s fun to be here,” Taylor said. “When you get to this point in the year, if you win you conintue to play, or if you lose, you’ll do something else.”
Kickoff in Thomasville is at 7 p.m.
Press-Register preps sports reporter Josh Bean contributed to this story.