1A, Region 2 foes prepare for battle

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 10, 2015


Red Level and Florala gear up for cross-county showdown Friday night in Florala as both teams look for their first win of the 2015 season.

Friday night’s game will be the 58th time the two teams have collided on the gridiron with Florala holding the overall series lead, 31-26. Florala won last year’s contest 40-28.

Friday night will also be the first Class 1A, Region 2 game of the season for both squads.

“It’s a big area game or money ball game,” Red Level’s coach James Wise said. “You have to have these to go to the playoffs.”

Florala’s coach, Brad Rhodes, also weighed in on the game.

“This is a huge game,” Rhodes said. “Not only is it a region game, it’s an in-county rivalry game. It all sets up for a really big ball game, and it puts the winner in a position to make a playoff run.”

Both coaches expect it to be a hard-fought physical game, and will come down to whomever wants it more.

“They are bigger, but we are faster,” Wise said. “They are well coached and we are well coach. This should be another good nail-bitter of a game.”

Rhodes said, that the Wildcats are excited to hit the field on Friday night.

“The guys have really had a great attitude all week,” Rhodes said. “We are approaching this as a playoff type game. It’s the first home game of the season, and I’m excited to see a good home crown and we want to give them a good football game.”

Offensively, both teams have relied a lot on the run and the same is expected Friday night, both coaches said.

“I expect them to come out and try to establish the run,” Rhodes said. “They have some really hard runners in the backfield, and they are physical. We have to work on being better tacklers. When we are in possession to make tackles, we have to make them. Being more physical, and not giving up the big plays are things we have also been stressing. That has been something we struggled with the past two weeks.”

Wise said he also expects to see the Wildcats try to establish the run.

“Their quarterback is a very good athlete and we have to focus on him,” Wise said. “With both teams trying to establish the run, this could be the shortest game in high school history. Their quarterback is someone we have to keep an eye on. We have to work him out of the equation. We also can’t give up the big plays. If we can make them nickel and dime it down the field, that will give us the advantage.”

Wise said that because of Florala’s size, the Tigers would try and use the outside a bit more on offense.

“I don’t want to get into a slugfest with them,” Wise said. “They are big, but we aren’t going to throw the ball around like a spread team. What we want to do is to attack the outside and the edges. We can’t turn the ball over in bad situations like we have been the past two weeks.”

Rhodes also said that his Wildcats needed to focus on protecting the ball.

“Turnovers have killed us so far this season,” Rhodes said. “Last week, three of our first four drives ended with turnovers. We have to do a better job of protecting the football.”

Rhodes said that they keys to Wildcat victory will come from two areas.

“On defense, the No. 1 thing we have to do is to stop the run,” Rhodes said. “Offensively, we have to establish the run first and then throw the ball.”

Kickoff between Red Level and Florala will be at 7 p.m., in Florala.