Mentally strong

Published 12:02 am Friday, November 8, 2013

Andalusia is looking to win its first round playoff game against Childersburg tonight. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Andalusia is looking to win its first round playoff game against Childersburg tonight. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Andalusia knows the pressure it has going into tonight’s game.

That’s why during the course of the season, the Bulldogs have built up their mental and physical abilities to get ready for the first round of the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s Class 4A state playoffs tonight when they host Childersburg.

For the past four years, the Bulldogs have fell short in the first round, going 0-4.

AHS head football coach Brian Seymore said the goal this season was to have the right frame of mind going into this week.

“It’s a great opportunity for our program,” Seymore said. “We’re a qualified No. 2 seed behind UMS-Wright in a very solid region (1). We’ve done everything we could to prepare our kids physically and mentally to prepare for this week.”

Andalusia has preparing for CHS for the past three weeks when they learned they’d be facing the Tigers (8-2), Seymore said.

“Not to take anything away from Escambia County or Fairhope, but when we were locked as the No. 2 seed, we went ahead and started working on the team who we’re going to play,” the coach said. “Our kids competed at the last two games at a high level. The total focus is on Childersburg and finding a way to win the first round.”

The Bulldogs are coming off a 33-25, regular-season loss to Class 6A Fairhope. The Tigers beat Winterboro 46-7, and have outscored their opponents 278-141.

CHS utilizes a spread offense and leans more on running the ball with running back Kendarious Calhoun at the helm. Calhoun has rushed for 1,200 yards this year.

“(Calhoun) has the ability to run with power,” Seymore said. “He’s elusive enough to make folks miss. He does a good job of breaking tackles, so we’ve got to do a good job of tackling in space.”

At quarterback, the Tigers have Zack Ligstey and his favorite target is wide receiver Frank Wilkerson.

“They have a Tony Franklin system, and they like to get the ball to people on the edge,” Seymore said. “They distribute the ball pretty well. That’s the hardest thing defensively. (Ligstey) has his favorite guys who he likes to go to. He does a good job of going to a lot of his players.”

Seymore added that it’s got to be a “team effort” to limit the Tigers’ offense.

“We’re going to try to do things to take it away,” he said. “If they try to run the ball, we’re going to put enough poeple in the box to stop the run. If they try to throw the ball, we hope to get some up hill pressure and get in the quarterback’s face and make him make the decisions.”

One thing that may hurt Andalusia is that some of its players are suffering the injury bug.

AHS quarterback Michael McCalman suffered a hip pointer during the first half last week against Fairhope.

Seymore said he doesn’t know if McCalman will be able to play tonight.

“We’re going to warm him up in pre-game and see what he can do — see how he moves and deals with a little bit of pain,” the coach said about his quarterback. “He wants to be out there. If any way possible, he’ll be out there.”

Additionally, Chase Helms — who coaches thought suffered a hip flex strain — will not play in tonight’s game.

There are other players who have injuries that tend to be normal at this stage of the season, Seymore said.

However, if there’s one thing Andalusia learned last week against the Pirates, it’s that the Bulldogs have players who can step up and play at a high level when called upon, Seymore said.

“A lot of the young kids got some really quality experience against a quality program,” he said. “They realize that hey, I can play and compete at this level. I think that gave them some confidence.”

Confidence can go a long way on the field, Seymore said.

“It’s just a matter of going out and carrying out the game plan, and doing those little things right,” he said. “It all goes to the fundamentals. That’s the key to the game — those fundamentals.”

Seymore said for him, personally, he’s been looking forward to tonight’s game for the majority of the season.

“It’s what you play for,” the coach said. “I’m proud of our coaches. I’m proud of our players, and the hard work they put in. This is why you play right now — for the playoffs.”

Kick off in Andalusia Municipal Stadium is at 7 tonight.