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Maplesville, Linden face off again with title hopes at stake

The Maplesville Red Devils (11-1) are one win away from making a return trip to the Class 1A State Championship game. However, standing it its way is Linden (10-2), an all-too-familiar foe.

Both teams are rivals in region 4-1A and have been for the past several seasons. The Red Devils defeated Linden in a hard-fought 20-7 victory on the road in week five of the regular season.

The difference this time around is that Maplesville will play in front of a raucous home crowd at George Walker Jr. Stadium Friday at 7 p.m.

The two teams have played a total of 10 times in the series with the outcomes being fairly even. Maplesville currently holds a 6-4 advantage in the series.

“Both teams play extremely hard, and it is just a matter of kids executing,” Hubbert said. “Neither one of us have really changed a whole lot since we started playing each other on a regular basis. Each game is a different battle.”

Each team’s tendencies are no secret to the other, which is rare at this point in the postseason. This will place even more importance on executing the fundamentals that are at the root of each coaching staff’s game plan.

“We’re going to have to execute on offense and not have turnovers,” Hubbert said. “We’re also going to have to play sound in the kicking game, and limit long sustaining drives and big plays on defense.”

Having a week off for Thanksgiving can present some challenges in disrupting the routine that had been established throughout the season. However, Hubbert believes that the magnitude of the stage will outweigh any change in mindset.

“You’re in the semifinals with a shot at playing for the state championship,” Hubbert said. “They’re pretty focused and coming in with a workmanlike attitude each day.”

Last week, the Red Devils totaled 500 yards of offense, with the majority on the ground. Hubbert understands that the offensive line must continue to assert itself and win the one-on-one matchups along the line of scrimmage.

“When you’re this deep in the playoffs, the trenches along the offensive and defensive lines are key to anything,” Hubbert said.