Tigers, Jackets to hold region battle Friday

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, October 8, 2014

1008 spt-Daryl George

Straughn’s Daryl George (20) rushes the ball during last week’s win over Montgomery Catholic. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Fourth-ranked Straughn will battle with the Yellow Jackets Friday night in a key Class 4A, Region 2 matchup at W.H. Brown Stadium in Ashford.

The Tigers and AHS are neck and neck at 3-1 in the region. Straughn’s only loss came to St. James in a 10-7 decision. Trinity Presbyterian beat Ashford 24-8 last week to hand the Yellow Jackets their first loss of the season.

Ashford’s region wins include those over Bullock County, Andalusia and Montgomery Catholic. Straughn has wins over Headland, Trinity Presbyterian and Montgomery Catholic. Andalusia and Trinity are tied at 2-2.

“Ashford’s got a really, really good football team,” SHS head football coach Trent Taylor said. “They’ve very physical. A lot of times, that’s hard to see on film. It’s obvious watching those guys that they get after it — offensively and defensively.”

The Yellow Jackets don’t hide what they’re known for — running the ball.

However, AHS has been able to show that it can throw the ball. Earlier this season, the Yellow Jackets had two touchdown passes in their 37-7 win over Andalusia.

“There’s no secret to the fact that they’ll come right at you,” Taylor said.

Ashford’s Beonta Thomas and Devon Murry are the Yellow Jackets’ main run threats. Murry, at 210 pounds, is more used for short gains and third-down conversions. Thomas has the ability to run short bursts when needed.

Defensively, the Yellow Jackets push the safeties to the line of scrimmage to make tackles, Taylor said.

The coach said that it’s gonna be another fight up front on both sides of the ball.

“They remind me a lot of Beauregard from a size stand point and speed stand point, and physical stand point,” Taylor said, referring to the Tigers’ 28-6 win two weeks ago. “They’re very very similar in styles. They’re coming off their first loss of the season. Who wouldn’t bet that they’ve got a little spur under their saddle?”

Taylor said they working on ball control and correcting “mental” mistakes this week at practice.

“We’ve got to eliminate turnovers,” Taylor said. “We’re still having way too many turnovers. Some of them are forced and some are not. It’s the mental lapses that shouldn’t be happening. If we’re going to reach any kind of goals we’ve set for ourselves, we can’t do that against good football teams. You cannot turn the football over.”

One of the big changes this week for Straughn is that it’s the first road game it’s had in four weeks.

“It makes a huge difference,” Taylor said. “If you look at our road trips this year — one to Brantley and one to Opp — you almost can’t consider those road trips. St. James was the only one we had.

“It’s going to be a big change for our kids,” he said. “We’ve got to be able to adapt to that. From the time we get on the bus and on over there on the field, even though you’re not in the comfortable confines of your own place, you’ve got to be mentally sharp about what’s going on.”

On the region race, Taylor said there’s only one team that controls its own destiny — St. James.

“They certainly control their seeding,” he said. “They win out, they’re No. 1. I don’t know if nobody else can say that.”

The Tigers aren’t aiming for the No. 2 or 3 seed going into the playoffs. They’re strictly focusing on Ashford, Taylor said.

“We’re aiming to beat Ashford,” he said. “We’ll worry about that about 10:30 after Andalusia gets done. We just want to continue to try and improve each week.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on Friday.