Bulldogs, Tigers clash in heated cross-county rivalry
The No. 4 ranked Andalusia Bulldogs (8-1, 6-0) and the Straughn Tigers (4-4, 4-2) will square off tonight in a game that has no playoff implications, but should have the atmosphere of the Super Bowl.
“It doesn’t mean anything as for as playoffs go, but this gives us both a chance to play in a playoff type atmosphere,” Andalusia head coach Trent Taylor said. “There is no doubt that both teams will be excited about this game. The kids know what this game means to the community and to themselves, and both teams will play their hearts out.”
Coming into the game, the Bulldogs have locked up the No. 1 seed for Class 4A, Region 2 and the Tigers have clinched the No. 4 seed.
It’s a fairly young rivalry, as this will be just the 15th time the two teams have met up on the gridiron, but the closeness of the two schools means most of the players know and are friends with several players from the opposing team.
“Obviously, it’s a big rivalry game, but once the emotions wear off it will just be a normal football game,” Tigers’ head coach Chris Wilson said. “It’s been really easy to motivate the kids this week. Coming in with a three-game win streak to get us in the playoffs, the kids have built a lot of confidence and are excited to play their rivials.”
The Bulldogs are ahead in the record books, with a 10-4 record against the Tigers, but last season it was the Tigers who came away with a 34-28 overtime win in Straughn, that ended the Bulldogs’ shot at the playoffs.
Last season’s game, will serve as motivation for this year’s Andalusia team, and although they can’t keep Straughn out of the playoffs like the Tigers did to them, the Bulldogs are still hungry for a win over their region rivals.
The Tigers will also come into the game with added motivation, as this will be the first time they go up against their former head coach of 25 years, Trent Taylor.
Straughn started the season off slowly and dropped four of their first five games before pulling together and winning three-straight.
Over the past three weeks, the Tigers got shutout wins in back-to-back weeks over region foes Montgomery Catholic and Ashford. Last week, the defense didn’t get a shutout, but the Tigers still came away with 45-22 win over Bullock County Straughn’s senior night.
“Straughn doesn’t have the record that they would have hoped for, but if you look at their schedule you see that they were leading at some point in a few of those games they lost,” Taylor said. “Over the past few weeks, they have started playing really well and I’m sure they will come in with a lot of confidence.”
On the season, Straughn has scored 178 total points and have given up 173 points.
Straughn’s offense is led by senior running backs Malik Parker, Javaris and JuQuan Samuel. Senior quarterback Barrett Bush and junior wide receiver Alan George have also been crucial components of the Tigers’ offense.
On defense, senior Shane Jones leads the way for the Tigers along with sophomore Matt Worley.
They will go up a Bulldog offense that has scored 302 points this season, and a defense that has only allowed 146 points.
Andalusia’s offense has been led by the Bulldogs’ stout offensive line, and punishing running back Jamal Hourel.
“For us to have a chance, we have to stop No. 5 (Jamal Hourel),” Wilson said. “We know we won’t be able to stop him every time because he is an exceptional player, but for us to have a chance to win, we have to be able to limit his impact on the game.”
Hourel has had a career season to this point, with 1,748 yards and 23 touchdowns on 152 carries. Hourel averages a staggering 11.5 yards per carry and 194 yards per game.
“We had a really good week of practice,” Taylor said. “Wednesday might have been our best practice all season. The biggest thing for us at this point in the year will be just focus on us. We will continue to do what we do on offense and defense.”
Senior quarterback Taylor Griffin and sophomore quarterback Ethan Wilson have been rotating every other drive as signal callers, and have each done well when in the game, Taylor said.
Griffin has rushed for 246 yards and three touchdowns, and has thrown for 396 yards and an additional three touchdowns.
Wilson has picked up 160 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, and passed for 198 yards and two scores.
B.J. Anderson has been the leading receiver for the Bulldogs with 11 catches for 194 yards and one touchdown. Jaden Brown has eight catches for 141 yards and one touchdown. Even though he only has three catches, Derrick McQueen has made the most of them, as he has picked up 123 yards and two touchdowns.
Along with a strong offense, the Bulldogs also own the Class 4A, Region 2’s top defense.
Seniors Trevor Parker, Demetrius Lane, Morris Calloway and junior Jason Donahue have led the Andalusia defense.
This will be the last regular season game for both teams, and both will also have a bye week heading into the playoffs.
Kickoff between the Bulldogs and the Tigers will be at 7 p.m., tonight in Andalusia.
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