SHS to tango with T.R. Miller

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Straughn’s Chase Short rushes for a gain while Ashton Mayhall (51) provides a block during an earlier game this season. | File photo

A consistent and well-coached T.R. Miller is coming to town, and the only team standing in the Brewton team’s way of sealing the No. 1 spot in the region is Straughn.

Both Tigers teams will battle on the gridiron Friday night at Straughn Tigers Stadium.

Straughn (5-2, 4-1 in Class 3A, Region 1) enters the contest after dominating Excel 47-14 for its homecoming last week. The two losses for SHS came in week one against Andalusia and two weeks ago against Bayside Academy. Second-ranked T.R. Miller (7-0, 5-0) beat Southside Selma 48-18 last week.

Straughn hasn’t had much time to get ready for T.R. Miller these past few weeks, SHS head football coach Trent Taylor said.

“With Bayside two weeks ago, that was the most important thing on our plate,” Taylor said. “After losing that game, it was kind of hard to look beyond Excel, even though their record was not that great.

“The first thing we did was look at the film and saw they (Excel) were 22-19 with W.S. Neal in the first half, and so that kind of put a little scare in us,” he said.

Straughn beat No. 9 W.S. Neal, of East Brewton, 36-30 in week two to start region play.

Taylor said TRM looks the same, year-after-year.

“There’s just not a whole lot of difference,” he said. “I think it’s because of their consistency and their ability to win. I think last year or the year before they played with some young football players. Coach (Jamie) Riggs would say they weren’t as good, although they didn’t have a bad year.

“Those kids are a year older now,” he said. “When you play their middle school team, B-team, varsity — it’s all the same.”

Straughn may have its hands full with standouts, TRM senior starting quarterback Kevin Davis, who is an All-American in baseball; junior running back/defensive back Dominique Jackson; and junior running back/linebacker Kameron Coleman.

Taylor said Davis’s pass accuracy poses a threat.

“You take the same thing that makes him a weapon on the baseball field, which is his arm strength and put him on a football field, you’ve got quite a weapon there as well,” he said. “I dare say, we won’t play anybody with a stronger arm than he’s got. They’re going to take their shots. Every film we’ve had, once or twice a game or sometimes more, he’s dropped back and thrown the deep ball.”

And Jackson is not your ordinary running back listed at 202 pounds, the coach said.

“He’s a big kid,” Taylor said. “He’s certainly a kid who has great wheels and can run.”

Taylor said he hasn’t found any weaknesses in TRM.

“They’re always going to be some areas where they’re better at than the next, but they’re always going to be consistent,” he said. “They’re kind of like Bayside. They’re going to be sound in all three facets of the game. “I think their strength from what I can tell is their offensive line — not to take anything away from those kids at running back,” he said. “That’s the strength of their football team. If you ask me to name their best player, he’s No. 32 (Coleman), who plays full back and linebacker. As (SHS offensive coordinator) coach (Ray) Wilson said (Monday), he’s the heart of their defense. He makes everybody else go. He’s an emotional leader. He’s also a leader by example. He gets it done.”

Straughn and T.R. Miller have met on the football field between 2002-2009, and the EB team has a 6-2 advantage, Star-News archives show.

Friday night is the first time the two will have met since SHS won the 2009 contest, 28-21.

“We’ve had some really good games with T.R. Miller, surprisingly,” Taylor said. “The ones we have won — and there are few in number — have been really close ball games. I can only think in my mind where there was only one real blow out. The year after Straughn won 27-26 (2002), we went over to T.R. Miller and on the first or second drive, completed a 97-yard TD pass. To be honest, they manhandled us from that time on.

“Everything other than that had been really good high school football games,” he said.

Taylor said he expects his kids to play a complete four quarters Friday night. In both of the games Straughn has lost, it has held a half time lead.

“We didn’t finish those up,” he said. “If we’re ahead at half time, that’s certainly something that I’ll remind them of.”

As of this week, Straughn sits at No. 3, behind W.S. Neal in the region standings. Opp is at 3-2 and in the No. 4 spot.

Taylor said the top four spots in the region are up in the air. The top four sees in each region earn playoff berths and a chance to fight their way to the Super 6, held in Auburn.

“You’ve got a situation where it is feasible that there could be five teams who could be 5-2,” he said. “That’s not out of the question.

“The best case scenario to be honest, without any help and winning out, is probably third,” he said. “With Bayside losing to Neal, we’re back to controlling our own destiny. With two region games remaining (at home against TRM and away at Opp) you can’t ask for a whole lot more. You’re still in the hunt.”

Kick off at Straughn on Friday night is at 7.