FRIDAY NIGHT PREVIEW: Tigers set sights on playoff spot

Published 6:38 pm Thursday, October 17, 2013

This football season has been one of streaks for the Chilton County Tigers.

CCHS lost its first two games of the season but then bounced back to win three consecutive games. Another valley presented itself along the Tigers’ journey through their demanding schedule, as back-to-back region losses to Sylacauga and Briarwood the past two weeks have Chilton in a precarious playoff position.

A strong finish to the season, with wins over region foes John Carroll this week and Ramsay next week, would earn CCHS a playoff berth as the No. 4 team in Class 5A, Region 4.

Returning home to Tiger Stadium after two straight road games could also help build some momentum.

“You always play better at home,” Chilton coach Donnie Hand said. “You hope the kids want to play hard regardless, but with having a chance to make the playoffs, you hope the kids, especially the seniors, can get excited about Friday night.”

Hand compared this week’s opponent to last week’s opponent. That’s not necessarily good news, as Briarwood gashed the Tigers for 280 rushing yards.

“They’re a lot like Briarwood: they’ll spread you out, then they’ll run it,” Hand said.

John Carroll junior running back Jelani Bender is averaging 5.2 yards per carry and 118.4 yards per game. He has scored seven touchdowns.

The most significanct difference between Briarwood and John Carroll is that while Briarwood’s quarterback was a running threat, John Carroll’s Riley Mara has gone backward 44 yards on his 22 carries this season.

“The key is going to be to stop [the run] and make them throw,” Hand said.

Chilton County’s offense will also have to improve if the Tigers are to get back on track. CCHS has managed a combined three points in its past two games combined.

“We haven’t been able to run it or pass it,” Hand said. “We’re supposed to be made for the run, but it doesn’t take but one person not making their block or the running back not hitting the hole just right…we haven’t been able to hit the big run like we did last year.

“Then if we ever get it going, we’ll get a penalty. If something can go bad, it’s been going bad for us.”

Who will win the John Carroll-Chilton Co. game?

  • John Carroll (57%, 20 Votes)
  • Chilton Co. (43%, 15 Votes)

Total Voters: 35

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Also Friday night

Billingsley at Akron

Billingsley can guarantee itself a playoff berth with a win over Akron. If the Bears lose this week, however, they’ll need a Week 9 win over Holy Spirit and some other games going their way. They’d rather take care of business now.

Jemison at Dora

Jemison still has a shot at the No. 2 spot in the region standings, which would give the Panthers homefield advantage in the first round of the playoffs. JHS needs a win at Dora to set up a showdown with Calera for second.

Maplesville at Holy Spirit

Week 8 should see another easy region win for the Red Devils, who have outscored region foes by an average of 60-9 this season. Holy Spirit, meanwhile, hasn’t won a region game. The win would clinch a region championship for MHS.

Isabella at Reeltown

After its first loss of the season, in Week 6 to Lanett, Isabella got back on track with last week’s win over LaFayette. Now the Mustangs face two games in a row against teams also vying for No. 2 in the region.

Verbena at St. Jude

Verbena is still looking for its first win of the season, and it will be tough to come by this week, as the Red Devils visit a St. Jude team whose only losses have been to Class 3A Montgomery Catholic and region leader Loachapoka.

Montevallo at Thorsby

Thorsby has been a tough-luck loser, losing three games by a single possession. It’s about time the Rebels reaped the rewards of their persistence, and this week could be that opportunity, as THS hosts winless Montevallo.