Andalusia-Opp, a rivalry unlike any other

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Andalusia’s Keonta Hunter (3) rushes during the Hillcrest-Evergreen game in week three of the regular season. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

There are rivalries, old and new, but the Andalusia-Opp rivalry is something like no other.

The Bulldogs and Bobcats will meet in their 69th annual sparring match Friday night at AHS, according to Star-News records. Andalusia holds a 34-31-3 advantage.

Andalusia (3-1) enters the contest after a 35-15 home loss to Thomasville, and Opp enters the contest after a 35-16 road victory over Excel.

Opp’s two losses this season came after the Bobcats beat defending Class 2A state champion Elba in week one. The Bobcats fell to Class 3A heavy weights Bayside Academy and T.R. Miller.

“People look at (the Bobcats’) record and they’re 2-2,” AHS head football coach Brian Seymore said. “They lost to Bayside and T.R. Miler. When you beat a state champion in the first game of the year, and lose to Bayside and T.R. Miller (it’s notable and) I think people have mixed emotions (about Opp).

“They’re a very solid football team and they are well-coached,” he said.

OHS head football coach Jack Whigham said this week’s game, in his opinion, is the most important game the Bobcats should know they’re playing.

“It’s our biggest rival,” Whigham said. “Other people have rivals. This is the game I grew up with as being a big rivalry game.

“(The Andalusia Bulldogs) have an excellent football team,” he said. “They’re very good, defensively, as I’ve seen in a long time. It’s going to be a challenge for us.”

Andalusia’s and Opp’s points for and against ratios are quite different. After four games, the Bulldogs have outscored their opponents 108-74, while the Bobcats sit at 77-92.

Seymore said Opp’s offense is top-notch.

“Opp does a great job on offense, doing multiple sets, multiple shifts and doing multiple formations,” Seymore said. “We’ve got to recognize the formation they’re in and make sure everybody understands the motions and make sure we take care of our responsibilites in the pass game.”

Seymore said he expects Opp starting quarterback Ethan Davis to be back in action. Davis has been out due to a broken collar bone.

“We’re banking on the starter to be back,” the Andalusia coach said.

Andalusia has starting QB Michael McCalman, who Whigham said, handles the ball really well during plays.

“We’ve got to be smart with what we do (defensively),” he said. “They’re going to have us in a side look and be bigger than we are. We’ve got to be able to combat that some how.”

When asked what, if any, type of offensive formations the Bobcats will throw at the Bulldogs, Whigham didn’t say much, of course.

“We’ll run our offense that we’ve been running,” Whigham said. “I’m sure we’ll have some wrinkles. It won’t be something we can’t adjust to.”

On the defensive side of the ball, Bobcats’ linebacker Quantavis Stoudemire leads the pack with 32 total tackles, whereas Andalusia linebacker Daniel Henderson leads the Bulldogs with 19. Seymore said Henderson is “50-50” to play this week because he injured his shoulder in the Thomasville game last week, Seymore said.

“Right now our defense has been playing well,” Whigham said. “We hadn’t played well the last couple weeks, we’re not turning the ball over. We’ve turned the ball over two times in the last four games. If we execute and limit turnovers and penalties, we’ll ourselves a chance to win.”

The Andalusia coach gave high praise to Opp’s defensive coordinator, Michael Cassady, saying “he does a solid job of getting his kids in position to make plays.”

“They’re very good with their assignments and good at defeating blocks,” Seymore said. “They don’t blow assignments. We’ve got to be methodical. We’ve got to be happy with making first downs and fortunate enough to make big plays — that’s fortunate — but we’ve got to be happy with moving the chains and trying to put some points on the board.”

In the end though, Seymore best summed what this old rivalry is all about — bragging rights.

“I think both sides get real geared up for it,” he said. “It’s what a rivalry is all about. It seems like both teams come out and play at the highest level.

“Everybody wants to say, it’s kind of like Alabama-Auburn, for 365 days, you’ve got bragging rights and that’s what it comes down to,” he said.