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THE ROAD TO THE BLUE MAP: Bulldogs start season with sights set on a title

The Andalusia Bulldogs begin their road to the state championship as they travel just north of Mobile to take on the Class 6A Saraland Spartans.

“I really felt like we had good practices on Monday and Tuesday,” Andalusia head coach Trent Taylor said. “On Wednesday, I felt like we took a step back and I was a little dissappointed with the way we finished practice. Tuesday was a hectic day, but I felt that we got through it really well.”

Taylor said the team has to find someone to step up and lead the team.

“The biggest thing we have to learn is that we have to have guys step up and help others fight through adversity,” Taylor said. “This is going to be a good team at some point this season.”

Today’s game against Saraland will be a test for the Bulldogs, Taylor said.

“Honestly, I don’t know how we are going to look tommorrow,” Taylor said. “We aren’t going down there with a defeatist attitude and we aren’t looking for any moral victories. I expect us to go down to Saraland and come home with a victory.”

Taylor said he knows the Bulldogs probably won’t play a perfect game today.

“I’m realistic about the game,” Taylor said. “I know we are going to make mistakes. I’m completely fine with us making mistakes. The biggest thing I want to see is how we show up on Monday and Tuesday to correct those mistakes.”

How the players respond is what Taylor said he is most concerned with.

“I want to see how we respond to our mistakes,” Taylor said. “If I can look them in the eye and see the dissappointment and that look of ‘Coach we’ve got to get that right. That’s what I’m looking for. It has to be a player on the field that does that. It can’t just be the eight coaches that show up on Monday ready to fix mistakes.”

Taylor said that Saraland lost a couple of key players from last year’s team, but are still loaded with talent.

“They are a lot like us,” Taylor said. “They lost their quarterback who was a Division I athlete, but they had a guy that transfered in who looks like he has been doing a good job. The new quarterback is 6’5” and I imagine he is back there to throw the ball around. They also have two running backs that can get the job done.”

Coming into the first game, Taylor said it is hard to gauge what the other team is going to do.

“Game one is difficult,” Taylor said. “You are watching film from last year and preparing for everything that you see. Honestly, there will probably be a lot of things that we’ve prepared for that we don’t see tomorrow night, but that will help us down the road because we will see them at some point.”

Taylor said the key to the game is just going to be taking care of miscues.

“We have to eliminate physical and mental mistakes,” Taylor said. “The biggest thing that I’m going to be looking for is to how we respond when we do make a mistake.

Kickoff between Andalusia and Saraland will be a 7 p.m., in Saraland.

Saraland went 8-4 last year and lost in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs against Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa.

Andalusia went 12-2 last year and lost in the Class 4A semifinals to UMS-Wright.