QUATERFINALS SLUGFEST: Bulldogs prep for playoff battle

Published 12:05 am Friday, November 18, 2016

The No. 1-ranked Andalusia Bulldogs (11-1) look to keep their title dreams alive as they travel to Tallassee tonight to take on the Tigers (9-3) in the quarterfinals of the 2016 AHSAA Class 4A football playoffs.

“We have had a really good week of practice,” Andalusia head football coach Trent Taylor said. “The kids came in focused on Sunday, and they have remained focused all week.”

For the second week in a row, the top-seeded Bulldogs find themselves traveling, and Taylor said they will stop in to see a former Andalusia coach on the way to Tallassee.

“Our guys really enjoy traveling,” Taylor said. “We were able to get a charter bus so it will be a comfortable ride. We will stop in Montgomery for our team meetings. After that we are stopping in Reeltown to get dressed. That’s where Coach (Matt) Johnson is now, and he is going to let us use their facilities to dress. Tallassee has nice facilities, but they are a little small for a team our size.”

Taylor said that the Bulldogs have been watching a lot of game film to prepare for Tallassee.

“They are a team that plays very hard,” Taylor said of the Tigers. “They have some size on the line and from an offensive standpoint, they do a lot of different things. Film has been really important this week because they will get in a box formation on offense, and that’s not something you see much of anymore. It’s really hard for our scout team players to run something that they have never heard of, let alone seen.”

When the Tigers are on offense, quarterback Casey Baynes will be the focal point.

“They have a great kid playing quarterback,” Taylor said. “He is a very good competitor and he has accounted for around 30 touchdowns for them. You can tell on film that he is the heart and soul of their football team.”

On the year, Baynes has thrown for 1,384 yards and 17 touchdowns. He has also rushed for 606 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Andalusia quarterback Ethan Wilson has thrown for 1,817 yards and 20 touchdowns. Wilson has also rushed for 674 yards and five touchdowns.

Taylor said that the Tigers run a 4-2 defense, which is nothing new to the Bulldogs.

“Their defense isn’t anything that we haven’t seen before,” Taylor said. “The difference is both of their two techniques are huge players. We aren’t very big up front and we will have to do some things to overcome the size difference.”

At this point in the playoffs, Taylor said that there aren’t easy opponents.

“When you get down to the final eight teams in the state, on any given Friday night any of those teams can beat the others,” Taylor said. “At this point, it’s all about who can make the fewest mistakes. More than likely after the game you can look back and find one or two crucial plays in the kicking game, or a fumble or some kind of penalty that ends up costing one team the game. We have to protect the ball and be aware of our assignments on every play.”

Through 12 games, both teams have out scored their opponents. Andalusia has scored 436 points while giving up a Class 4A-low 105 points. Tallassee has out scored their opponents 384-241.