Marshall Rolin runs the ball for ECHS during a 2010 game against Saraland. The two former region foes will battle again Friday in a preseason matchup that pits former Jackson coaches against one another.
Marshall Rolin runs the ball for ECHS during a 2010 game against Saraland. The two former region foes will battle again Friday in a preseason matchup that pits former Jackson coaches against one another.

Familiar foes

Published 9:48pm Tuesday, August 20, 2013

When ECHS travels to Saraland for its preseason football game against the Spartans, there will be a bit of familiarity.

The Blue Devils’ second-year coach Lev Holly served as defensive coordinator under Saraland coach Jeff Kelly when both men were in Jackson. The pairing produced success too. Jackson reached the 4A state championship in 2009, but lost. Jackson returned to the Super 6, after Kelly had left for Saraland the next year, and won.

“We are great friends,” Holly said of Kelly. “His team will be well coached and well organized. He’s going to get the best out of his kids.”

Kelly had similar comments about Holly, calling him an “outstanding coach,” which is why the two teams are playing each other in the preseason, he said.

“Any time you get together and scrimmage you want to do it with folks you know will be ready,” Kelly said. “It’ll be a good test for us going into the season.”

Holly called the game a “good measuring stick” for his team, adding that it would be a good opportunity to give some of the younger players a chance to get on the field.

“We’ll play the older guys in the first and second quarters,” he said. “After that we’ll get some of the young guys some work.”

One of the biggest factors for the Blue Devils in this game will be ball security, Holly said.

“We will continue to get better for week one,” Holly said. “We feel good. If we do things right and execute, we feel like we have a good chance.”

For Kelly, Friday’s game is going to be about getting some live competition for his players and working on fundamentals.

“I want to see what condition level our kids are in,” he said. “I want to see the kids compete against someone else. Those are the things you look for early on in the season.”

ECHS will open its regular season in Brewton against T.R. Miller, ranked sixth in 3A by the Alabama Sports Writers Association. Saraland takes on Faith Academy on Friday, Aug. 30.

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