SHS to face much-improved W.S. Neal

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 6, 2012

Straughn’s Jeffery Fraze tackles Andalusia’s Michael McCalman last week. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

W.S. Neal is coming off of a 1-9 season last year and with a big win over Holtville last week, the Eagles are looking to add to their win streak this week.

But first, the Eagles have to get through Straughn.

The Tigers enter the first region contest of the season after losing a close contest last week to rival Andalusia. SHS led 14-0 early, but the Bulldogs scored 16 unanswered points and got the win.

When all was said and done last week, SHS head football coach Trent Taylor said he was anxious to see how the Tigers would respond after the loss at Monday’s practice.

About 30 minutes into Monday’s practice, Taylor said he had his answer.

“I think they didn’t know how to respond,” he said. “To be honest, practice didn’t start out the way, personally, I wanted it to start out. I think there was a certain fear factor on their part as to how are the coaches at this point?

“We had a good little come to Jesus (meeting) and the intensity was where it should’ve been the minute they walked out there,” he said.

Taylor went on to say that the team did make some improvement on the field. On Tuesday, the Tigers practiced indoors because of the weather and even while under a roof, he said the intensity level was different.

But this week, the Tigers will have to turn their intensity levels up to a whole new notch as W.S. Neal is coming into the game a much-improved team, Taylor said.

“I will go so far to say that athletically, they match up with Andaluisa in every area and may have more,” Taylor said. “It is a very athletic football team. They are big where you’re supposed to be.”

Taylor said the Eagles are fast.

“Unfortunately for us, some of them jokers who are real fast are real big, too,” he said. “They’re playing with a lot of confidence, too. We saw them in the spring and they played real well with two quality opponents.”

Leading the Eagles’ pack on offense are two tail backs, Marquese Banks and Josiah Nettles, who Taylor said are players he’s keeping an eye on. Banks weighs 208 pounds and is 5-foot-10, and Nettles is 6-foot-4, 175 pounds.

Starting region play against WSN may not be the best thing for SHS right now, but Taylor said he wants his players to play with the same intensity as they did last week.

“That’s the hardest thing when you play your rivalry week one,” he said. “You have that same focus and intensity and unfortunately, so do the fans.

“Because we feed off of the fans, it’s going to be real important to have them out there again,” he said. “This game is more important than last week’s. We need them to be just as many in number and just as loud and encouraging in spirit.”

Kick off in Straughn on Friday night is at 7.

Injury update: Straughn’s Mason Farley will undergo knee surgery on Wednesday and will miss the rest of the season.

Brent Huckabaa dislocated his shoulder and will be out the next few weeks.