Published 12:03 am Thursday, November 7, 2013
Straughn’s going to utilize its postseason experience and put it in full swing as the Tigers host Northside in the first round of the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s Class 3A state playoffs on Friday night.
The Tigers enter the 2013 postseason on the opposite end of where they were last season as the No. 4 seed team. SHS traveled to Daleville for the first round and finished in the state semifinals.
SHS head football coach Trent Taylor said with the playoffs comes a “new season.”
“It’s kind of like we were last year, and every coach is saying the same thing — we’re naught and naught right now,” Taylor said. “It’s a new season. The only difference right now is that half of the teams are playing at home and half are playing on the road.
“It is high school football, so some young men could have the game of their lives,” he said.
NHS will be bringing a young and inexperienced bunch to Tigers Stadium, with only eight seniors, three of whom played for the first time this year.
The Rams are coached by Chris Hilliker. NHS made it to the first round last year for the first time since 1994.
Hilliker said SHS will present a tough challenge for his boys.
“Well, I feel they’re by far the best team we’ve played this year,” the second-year Rams coach said. “They’re very, very good and sound in what they do. We’ve got a tough task ahead of us.”
The Rams like to run out of the double-wing offense for its running attack, and are based out of a 3-3 stack on defense.
Leading the Rams’ offense is running back and top team rusher A.J. Travis. Additionally, Alex Maluda is right behind Travis. Justin Beck is the quarterback.
The Rams’ offense can provide a headache or two for their opponent’s defense, Taylor said.
“You have to scheme against that,” Taylor said. “Like I told the boys (Monday), all of these college coaches are against the spread. I’m against the (double wing offense).”
Because the Tigers will be facing a running attack from the Rams, their defensive line will have to have a good game on Friday, the coach said.
“They’ll play hard,” Taylor said about his under-sized line. “They understand that they’ve got to play bigger than what they actually are. We’ve got to create havoc up front and create piles.
“Offensively, we’ve got to continue to play with the same rhythm that we had in (the 49-21 win over Opp in) week nine,” he said. “That was one of the more complete games from all three facets. I think the biggest thing offensively that night, whether we were running or throwing, we had really good rhythm.”
Practice leading up to the game has been good for Straughn, the coach said.
Last week, the Tigers took Monday and Friday off, hit the practice field hard Tuesday through Thursday and worked on themselves.
This week, SHS got off to a great start on Monday, Taylor said.
“There are a lot of things that contributed to that,” the coach said about Monday’s practice. “No. 1, it’s the playoffs and No. 2, the kids did get some time off last week. It’s almost like that first game of the season, everybody can’t wait for it to get here.”