Andy, Opp prepare for rivalry showdown

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 25, 2015

0925-spt-Taylor-Griffin 0925-spt-Orlando-Lacey 0925-spt-Jaylon-Washington

The Andalusia Bulldogs (4-1, 3-0) and the Opp Bobcats (4-0, 2-0) have gotten off to strong starts to the 2015 football season, and each squad will look to derail the other’s season tonight when they meet for Covington County’s oldest rivalry.

The 2015 contest will mark the 77th time that Opp and Andalusia have clashed on the gridiron with Andalusia leading the all-time series 40-33-3, including a 28-27 overtime victory last season.

It is a non-region match-up, but the players and coaches know that there is more riding on this game than a postseason appearance.

Andalusia comes into the game fresh off a 42-25 region win over Trinity, and the Bobcats also rolled up big numbers last week in a 60-42 region win over Geneva.

It will also be the first time in several years that both teams enter the contest ranked in the top 10 in their classifications. Andalusia comes in as the No. 8-ranked team in 4A, and Opp rolls into the contest ranked No.4 in 3A.

For the Bobcats, this is the fifth straight week that they have been the No. 4 ranked team in 3A. The teams ranked ahead of Opp are Madison Academy at No.1, Gordo at No. 2 and Piedmont at No.3. The top four 3A teams have not changed positions since the 2015 preseason polls came out. Madison Academy is the only one of the four that has a loss this season.

As for Andalusia, the Bulldogs began their season just outside the top 10, but an explosive first half of the season has pushed them up the polls in recent weeks.

This week the Bulldogs moved up two spots to No. 8 after last week’s trouncing of Trinity.

But when these two teams hit the field, records and previous contests are thrown out the window and it will come down to who wants it more, both coaches agreed.

Offensively, the Bobcats have put up good numbers to start the season and through four games have outscored their opponents, 151-108.

“We are going to go out there every week and run our offense according to what the defense shows us,” Bobcats coach Brent Hill said. “We have checks and reads in place so that we can take advantage of whatever the defense tries to throw at us.”

Andalusia coach Trent Taylor said he knows the Bobcat offense will be tough to stop with athletic players such as quarterback Orlando Lacey and running back Raheem Bonam.

“They have very good athletes at the skill positions,” Taylor said. “If you get out of position, they can make you pay quickly. We will have to be balanced on defense, because they can also throw the ball effectively when needed.”

When the Bulldogs are on offense, Hill said he knows the Bulldogs want to run the football, but that the Bobcats can’t get too caught up in stopping the run that they forget about the passing game.

Through five games, the Bulldogs have been on fire as they have rolled up 158 points while giving up only 84 to their opponents. Of those points, 35 came in the Bulldogs’ only loss of the season to 4A’s top-ranked UMS-Wright.

Taylor said from looking at film, that the Bobcats will come out in multiple defensive fronts and the Bulldogs must be able to establish the run.

“We have to be able to continue to establish the run,” Taylor said. “Running the ball is our game, but it also helps us to set up pass plays. They have a good defense that is quick to the ball, and we have to be able to get them off balanced and guessing.”

Both coaches agreed that it should be an exciting game and a fun game for all the fans to watch.

“It is going to be a fun game,” Hill said. “This should be really good for both schools.”

Taylor also said the game should be exciting.

“This is one of those scary games,” Taylor said. “But his should be a very exciting and fun game.”

Kickoff at 7 p.m. in Opp’s Channell-Lee Stadium.