• 73°

KEEP FIGHTING THE FIGHT: Bulldogs continue quest for state championship

“It’s not Thanksgiving without football practice.”

That’s become an expectation for the Andalusia High School football team as they prepare for their third-straight trip to Class 4A quarterfinals.

The Bulldogs will hit the road on tonight for a third-round contest with Alabama Christian in Montgomery.

“I would say that we are probably about where we need to be at this point,” Andalusia head coach Trent Taylor said. “The biggest thing, not just in playoffs, is that we have improved in areas throughout the season. There is a reason everyone says they want to ball their best football at the end of the season, and the guys are making strides to get that done. The defense has really came to play the past few weeks and the offensive line is really starting to play with a lot of confidence.”

Outside of the short trip to Straughn, Andalusia hasn’t been on the road since going to Satsuma on Oct. 13, but Taylor said he isn’t concerned.

“It’s really more of a blessing than it is a curse,” Taylor said. “Especially with it being a holiday. The kids are out of school so we are able to fill some of that down time with travel. If we have to be on the road during the playoffs, I’m glad it’s this week. We don’t have to worry about sitting around all day Friday waiting for 7 p.m., to roll around.”

When the Bulldogs hit the field on Friday night, Taylor said he wants his players to treat it like any other game this season.

“The biggest thing at this point is being able to keep your emotions in check,” Taylor said. “Everyone knows what’s at stack, and the crowds start getting bigger at this stage in the playoffs. It’s going to be all about which team is able to control those initial emotions. We just can’t get caught up in the hype.”

With the players out of school this week for Thanksgiving, Taylor said they have had the chance to get in some early practices.

“We have had three really good days of practice this week,” Taylor said. “We’ve been in the weight room at 9 a.m., and on the field around 10:30 a.m. The kids have shown a lot of enthusiasm this week at practice. They aren’t acting like they are being forced to be here.”

As for Alabama Christian, Taylor said they aren’t a team that the Bulldogs can take lightly.

“They have a good quarterback that missed a few games there at the end of the season, but he is back 100 percent,” Taylor said. “He is the guy that makes their team go. He can throw the ball deep and he has good accuracy on short passes. They do a good job of keeping you off balance, because they also have a running back that has rushed for more than 1,500 yards. They have play makers in a lot of positions, and they are a team that is playing with a lot confidence right now. It’s going to be a tremendous challenge.”

Taylor said that he likes the way the Bulldogs match up with Alabama Christian.

“Size wise, we are pretty similar,” Taylor said. “They don’t have any really big guys, but they are good sized high school linemen. On defense, they will run multiple fronts. Most of the time they are in a four-man front, but they will jump into a three-stack at times for no real rhyme or reason. Coach (Garrett) Windham has been working with the offensive lineman this week with that because it changes up their rules when going against a three or four-man front. We have a good game plan we just have to go out and execute.”

Andalusia and Alabama Christian will kickoff at 7 p.m., tonight in Montgomery.