The Meridian Star
The last week of non-district high school football is upon us; with it brings the final week of Lauderdale County rivalry games as West Lauderdale hosts Southeast Lauderdale on Friday night.
The heat between the two teams only picked up on the field recently as the wins began to flip flop.
“They blocked a punt and scored a touch down in the fourth quarter that kind of made it look like they beat us real bad [last year,]” Southeast head coach Charles Black said. “We beat them the two years before that and kind of turned it back into a rivalry game because before that they'd beat us about 10 years in a row, so there really wasn't much of a rivalry to it.”
West head coach Stan McCain said that every game against a county school has hype, not matter the outcome.
“It means a lot as far as pride is concerned,” he said. “We take it seriously.”
Last year, the Knights took home a 41-19 win but McCain expects this year's to be closer because of the Tiger's skill players.
“Athletically, they have a lot of athletes and good skill positions,” he said. “We don't stack up against anybody size wise, no body we play … If we can run with them, it'll be in our favor. If we can't run with them we'll have a long night.”
Here are five things to watch for this week:
1) Missing starter: The Knights will be without starting junior quarterback Tyler Turnage, who came out of last week's 33-10 loss to Newton County with a broken bone. He'll miss the rest of the season, but McCain, nor Black, are worried about Friday's game.
“[The backup]'s got experience. He's not just being thrown in there,” Black said. “We're not [going to change our game plan] because their other quarterback, he's very capable. I feel like we can adapt and adjust if they do come out with a different [game plan].”
Larry Ross will get the start. Ross has seen some action this week, playing the second half last week and a large chunk against Northeast earlier this season.
2) Sizing up: West and Southeast differ in Class, but neither side sees that as an advantage. McCain said his Knights never seem to meet the same physical sides as the teams they line up against.
Black said the Tigers don't usually have the same depth. This year, he has a roster that is 60 deep, but the youth counteracts it.
“It makes a difference because they have more depth than we do,” Black said. “I know we've got a bigger roster this you, but 25 of our kids are 9th graders. You really don't have that much depth with the freshman.”
3) What wet weather?: Every team that hit the field last Friday night took a long shower before half time. Despite the pouring rain, and taking a 35-20 loss to Northeast Jones, the Tigers' Takari Brooks threw for 262 yards en route to the team's 430 offensive yardage.
“We made a lot of good things happen,” Black said. “We forced five turnovers on their end, two intercept and recovered three fumbles ... In my opinion, I thought we were the best team on the field.”
4) Last one standing: It's the last game before district play opens and McCain couldn't be happier it's a rivalry game. He said the competition is great preparation for the following five games that truly matter.
“Anytime that you play a county school, you better bring the intensity and same thing in the division play,” McCain said. “You gotta bring that level of intensity to be able to do what you need to do on the line of scrimmage. The intensity level will be higher just because of Southeast and our county schools.”
5 )Back to basics: McCain and Black both said their teams have spent this week's practices focusing on the fundamentals of football, because that's what it will take to win.
“We try to preach to out kids it's about the effort, it's about the technique, staying in blocks, attention to plays and tackles, things like that,” McCain said. “And just trying to do the best we can.”
Southeast forced errors on Northeast Jones last week, which Black said he hoped continued. In the meantime, they are looking to correct the mistakes that allow teams to do the same to them.
“We just got to play good sound football and quite the mistakes, the penalties, the turnovers, incorrect assignments and everything,” Black said. “I think we can turn our season around and have a good solid season.”