physical Football

Published 12:01 am Thursday, September 6, 2012

Pleasant Home’s offensive line plays during its game last week against Cottonwood. The Eagles will face Red Level Friday night in their first region contest of the season. | Josh Dutton/Star-News

Fans craving a physical match up between two local high school football teams need look no further.

Red Level and Pleasant Home will do battle on the gridiron on Friday night to start their important region play at Bobby Dye Stadium.

The Tigers and Eagles enter this week’s contest after losing the first game of their seasons last week.

PHS fought back from a 21-0 deficit in the fourth quarter, but lost to Cottonwood 21-16, who over-matched the Eagles’ defensive line.

RLS took a hard hit to the helmet in a 34-0 loss to Choctaw County in a road game.

Tigers head football coach Tony Ingram said this week’s game is the “biggest game of the year.”

“It’s the next one,” Ingram said. “It’s a region game.”

Eagles coach Cody McCain said with it being the first Class 1A, Region 2 game, both teams will be looking to win. The only teams who got wins last week who are in Region 2 were Brantley and Florala.

“Both of us are kind of in the same spot, coming off of losses in week one, but it’s a little more forgiveable to drop a non-region game than to drop a region game,” McCain said. “Everybody wants to start out 1-0 in the region to be able to make that push to the playoffs.”

While this may be a contest where two local teams go head to head, this will be the first time RLS and PHS have met in the regular season. Both have played each other previously in preseason jamborees.

“Our kids know their kids,” Ingram said. “It’s going to be physical. They’re big and every time we’ve played them, there’s always a physical contest.”

McCain said his coaching staff has challenged the defensive line this week at practice, working them hard to get back into shape for the game because of the Tigers’ “unusual” size.

“It’s two teams that are going to be run-heavy teams,” he said. “Both teams have a lot of size. I was watching the film on Red Level this week, and it’s kind of an unusual looking Red Level team.

“Usually, they’re built around speed, but they’ve really got some big kids on their team this year,” he said.

When the Eagles scored 16 unanswered points in the fourth quarter against Cottonwood last week, McCain said a lot of people were “complimentary” about the team. He said the coaching staff and himself felt differently.

“In the first half, we had two drives stall in the red zone,” McCain said. “Anytime with us being where we were with the ball and in control and close to the end zone, we were disappointed with not getting any points.”

Ingram said he thinks the Eagles will use the momentum they secured late in last week’s game to their advantage this week.

“They’ve got to feel good,” Ingram said. “I know they don’t feel good that they lost.

“In our game, we played well to begin with and fell apart the latter part of the second quarter on,” he said. “We were (down) 6-0 late in the second, and they had a 16-point swing on two plays. They took a hand off from us and ran it back 40 yards.”

One of the problems the Tigers ran into last week that could hurt them against the Eagles is “depth,” Ingram said. Additionally, he said RLS had trouble with turn overs.

“We’re not very deep,” he said. “When one or two guys go down, it changes our whole game plan.

“I’ve got to do a better job of accounting when these guys go down,” he said. “In the third quarter, we had to throw out our whole playbook.”

With this week’s game being a region contest, both fan-bases will be excited, the coaches said.

“I think it’ll be a good atmosphere, and it’ll be a pretty exciting game when you get those local teams going at each other,” McCain said. “It will be a good atmosphere and an exciting game.”

Kick off in Red Level on Friday is at 7 p.m.

Injury update: RLS back up quarterback Robert Underfinger fractured his tibia and tore his meniscus. He’ll miss the rest of the season.