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BATTLE OF THE BULLDOGS: PART 2: Andalusia looks to punch ticket to Tuscaloosa

It’s time for part two of the Battle of the Bulldogs as No.1 Andalusia squares off with No. 5 UMS-Wright for the right to represent the South in next week’s Class 4A State Championship game in Tuscaloosa.

Andalusia came away with a 27-21 overtime-victory over UMS-Wright earlier this season to help Andalusia win the Region 1 title.

“Obviously, you’re not really changing anything in the way that you prepare for the game,” Andalusia head coach Trent Taylor said. “We will look at film and I’m sure they have a few wrinkles that are different from the first time we played them, but so do we. We just have to make the kids aware of those changes and checks they need to make.”

Taylor acknowledged the difficulty of defeating a team twice in the same season.

“The old cliché says that it’s hard to beat a team twice,” Taylor said. “It’s a cliché so there is at least a little truth to that. The biggest thing is that in the semifinals your are going to have two good teams and when two good teams play each other there are a lot of things that go into the outcome. Turnovers, mental mistakes and just being able to play well in all three aspects of the game are all going to be important. This will be the third game with them in almost a year. The first one down there was seven-point game, and this last one was a six-point game, so I would expect this to be another close game between two pretty evenly matched teams.”

One thing that will be big is who can control their emotions.

“A big thing is going to be which team can handle the emotions that come along with the semifinals and everything that’s at stake,” Taylor said. “We have a good group of kids here that are just ready to hit the field.”

Playing UMS-Wright for the second time this season helps Andalusia prepare for what they may see, Taylor said.

“The best thing about playing someone a second time is that you already know the matchups,” Taylor said. “When you are just watching film it can be hard to tell how good some of the players are, but when you have film and you have seen them, you are able to tell how you match up. Hopefully, we have gotten better since the last time we played, but we have to assume that they have also.”

Taylor said that the kicking game would be crucial as well.

“One thing about UMS-Wright is that you know they are going to have a good kicking game,” Taylor said. “That is something that Terry (Curtis) has always focused on. We have to make sure that we have really good plan for the things they might do. Terry is a riverboat gambler of sorts and he is will make the call to run fakes. We have to be prepared for anything.”

Last year’s semifinal lose to Handley still haunts the Bulldogs, Taylor said.

“These kids are just ready for 7 p.m., to get here Friday night,” Taylor said. “This is the week that they have looked forward to for the past 51 weeks.”