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Indian ‘D’ will provide stiff challenge

The Loachapoka defense is unusual.

Just listen to coach Brent Hubbert, whose Maplesville football team will have to find a way to score points against the Indians in Friday’s second-round playoff game at Loachapoka.

“People always ask, ‘Are they big or are they fast?’ They’re big and fast,” Hubbert said.

Loachapoka knocked Maplesville out of last year’s playoffs in the first round, holding the Red Devils to nine points.

If anyone is up to the task of moving the football on the Indians (9-1), though, it might be this Maplesville offense.

The Devils (10-1) are averaging more than 40 points per game and have scored 55 points or more three times (Loachapoka is giving up an average of less than 7 points per game and has recorded four shutouts).

Hubbert said his offense has been so effective because the offensive line has gelled and because of the number of players that can produce yardage.

Sophomores Johnathon Causey and Tyler Vowell and freshman Devin Keener at the beginning of the season were newcomers on a front that otherwise boasted much experience.

The offensive line has become a team strength, making life easy for the guys that handle the football.

Junior quarterback Matt Hamner has been given time to throw and has responded by passing for 15 touchdowns and more than 140 yards per game. And no less than six Maplesville receivers have at least 100 yards receiving on the season.

There’s a democratic approach in the backfield, too. Junior Hunter McCay and sophomore Chris Bailey have rushed for a combined 1,756 yards and 22 touchdowns.

Both average more than 10 yards per carry.

But the Devils must avoid the turnovers that plagued them last week if they are to be effective against one of the state’s best defenses.

Maplesville turned the ball over seven times—four lost fumbles, two turnovers on downs and one interception—in a 48-13 win over Talladega County Central in the first playoff round.

“We’ve got to do a better job of holding onto the football,” Hubbert said. “We’ve been preaching that all week.”

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If not for those seven turnovers last week, who knows how badly Maplesville would have defeated TCC, a team that lost to Loachapoka by only a touchdown.

Focusing on common opponents can be deceiving, and the Indians defeated Maplesville last year and will host this time, but this is a different Maplesville team than the 2008 version.

Pick: Maplesville.

Picks record: 52-13