SHS, Leeds to bout for finals

Published 12:01 am Friday, November 29, 2013

Straughn’s Rollin Kinsaul (5) and Justin McCormick (6) gain on Bayside Academy during the Class 3A state quarterfinals last week. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Straughn’s Rollin Kinsaul (5) and Justin McCormick (6) gain on Bayside Academy during the Class 3A state quarterfinals last week. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Straughn will be playing for a chance to play in the state finals tonight as the Tigers visit Leeds in the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s Class 3A state semifinals at Homer Smiles Field.

The Tigers have battled through a rigorous regular season and a tough last two games of the postseason. SHS defeated Bayside Academy 42-21 last week.

Making it this far for the second year in a row is an impressive feat, and all of the credit goes to the players, SHS head football coach Trent Taylor said.

“I really think that this group — the statement that stands out in my mind the most was when we played in the Champions Challenge and the game was over that night, they presented us with a trophy for winning that game,” he said. “I want to give credit to Dalton Watson, but wehther it was him or not, somebody was holding the trophy as the kids gathered around, and he said, ‘this is great, but this isn’t the trophy we want.’

“By virtue of the fact that the kids obviously had that, whether they talked about it to one or another, it was obvious that it was something they wanted,” he said.

Leeds enters tonight’s contest 11-2 overall. The Green Wave defeated region foe T.R. Miller 24-20 last week in the third round, quelling any hopes for a rematch for SHS.

Defensively, the Green Wave have given up an average of 11 points per game, compared to Straughn’s 14. Leeds has scored an average of 35 points per game, compared to the Tigers’ 30 per game this season.

What stands out about the Green Wave on film is their size, Taylor said.

“They’re huge,” he said. “They really, really are. Obviously, they have a very, very good football team. Of course, you’d like to think everyobdy is at this point.

“They certainly got some breaks with turnovers (against TRM, who gave up five takeaways),” he said. “Heck, you can create some of those. We got some too along the way to get here. That’s a part of being in the second, third or fourth round. Even when you get those turnovers, you’ve got to turn those into points, which they did.”

Leeds’ stand out players include sophomore quarterback Marshall Tadarryl; sophomore running back Trey Nation; and junior running back Tyler Wright.

Wright had a 28-yard TD run late in the game last week to help pull the Green Wave ahead of TRM.

Taylor said Wright is more of a defensive player.

“I’m sure if you asked for their depth chart, he’d be listed at the linebackers spot,” he said.

The Green Wave’s go-to players is junior wide receiver Jermaine Johnson, Taylor said.

“He’s got tremendous speed,” the coach said. “He caught a toss pass for a touchdown against Miller. He’s certainly their deep threat. He’s certainly the one who they got to in clutch time.

“Once again, it’s another team, much like Dale County and Bayside last week.”

LHS, who is a young, will establish the run game on the field tonight, and the big key on defense for SHS is to utilize its quickness as it has done all year, Taylor said.

“If we’re not careful and make a wrong move, we’ll get swallowed up real easy with those big guys up front,” the coach said. “It’s real important that we do a real, real good job of making sure we’re slanting like we should. We’ve got to try to penetrate.”

All season long, the coaches have noticed that this team is different than many others.

“I think last year, for a lack of a better term, we were all giddy about gettting there (the state semifinals),” Taylor said. “I think that was true with the kids and I think that was true with the coaches. I’m certainly not saying that we’re excited as we are right now, but I do think that the mind set is a little bit different.”

Kick off tonight is at 7.