Eagles, Wildcats to battle in rivalry

Published 12:01 am Friday, October 17, 2014

Pleasant Home and Florala will meet for a good, old-fashioned small-school rivalry contest tonight at Eagles Field.

Entering the game, the Eagles (0-7) hold a 9-5 advantage over the Wildcats in the still-young series. FHS beat PHS 34-24 last year.

The region stakes for Florala are a bit high as the Wildcats (4-3, 1-3 in Class 1A, Region 2) are fighting for the No. 4 seed to advance to the postseason. Red Level and Kinston are in the hunt as well.

“We’ve approached this week as if it was a playoff game,” FHS head football coach Brad Rhodes said. “We’ve really hammered that in our kids’ heads. We need to win the next two ball games. If we do that, then we’ll be in (the playoffs). That’s how we’re approaching the next two games (against PHS and KHS). Both of them are must wins for us.”

Tonight, Pleasant Home will be honoring its seniors before kick off.

Eagles head football coach Chris Mason said that Florala is adjusting and getting to know Rhodes’ system real well.

“Florala is doing a pretty good job,” Mason said. “They seem to do pretty good against teams this year. They do some things and are learning his system pretty well.

“They like to run the football and pound it,” he said. “It’s going to come down to who tackles the best, like aways, and who has less turnovers and who creates turnovers. I hope we’ll be able to improve on the lack of tackling that we’ve showed.”

So far this season, the Wildcats have averaged 24.5 points per game, compared to the Eagles’ 12.

FHS is, as Mason said, a run type team first, but will throw it if needed. Early in the season, PHS established the run game and stuck with it.

Both coaches said stopping the run game is a must.

“Coach Mason has done a great job getting his team better each and every week,” Rhodes said. “I thought the game last week against Red Level (a 42-20 loss) was a good game. His kids play extremely hard.

“It’s something that we’ve talked about in practice, being able to match the intensity level we show on film,” he said. “We didn’t bring that sort of mentality last week and it showed.”

Rhodes and Mason said their players are looking forward to the game.

“It should be a great atmosphere,” the Florala coach said. “Coach Mason will have his guys ready to go.”

Mason said it’s all about the “experience.”

“I’m really proud of our kids’ attitudes,” the PHS coach said. “The kids have had a great week of practice. (Wednesday) was exciting for us. They came to practice with a little more hop in their steps (after winning the tug-of-war contest on Tuesday). Each game is an experience. I believe in the old adage — a win is a win. Ultimately, we’ve got to produce Friday night.”

Kick off tonight is at 7.