Devils, Tigers won’t be snoozer

Published 10:33am Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A few weekends back I attended my high school reunion. It was what you would expect from an event like that — food, old friends and copious amounts of alcohol.

Many of my high school friends and acquaintances hadn’t changed a bit. Sure, most of us (myself included) were a little pudgier than back in the day, but all in all, each of us kept the distinct personalities that made us “us” in high school.

The one thing that had changed was our alma mater, Baldwin County High School, and its football team.

That being said, I’m still anxious for the showdown Friday between the Tigers and the Escambia County Blue Devils. As a reporter, I no longer have a dog in the fight, but it’ll still be an interesting game because both teams have had similar seasons.

Both teams have had disappointing seasons, at least from a fan’s perspective, with ECHS winning one game so far and the Tigers winning none. Both teams have been much better in the past and just seem outmanned at the current level of play.

For example, in my four years at BCHS we competed regularly with Daphne for the region title, but only won it in 1999. The Tigers’ record for most wins came during my junior year in 2001, when they outscored opponents in 11 contests.

It’s been a slow descent from there, with their worst season in 2010 where they fittingly went 0-10. There’s a mnemonic device, in case you forget what year was their worst.

Historically, the Tigers have been relatively average, racking up a win percentage of 53.8 in 94 total seasons, according to the Alabama High School Football Historical Society website. In that span, the Tigers have 53 winning seasons and 41 losing ones (counting this year).

The Blue Devils have secured one win this season, with a 34-22 victory over neighboring Monroe County. To be fair, ECHS is in one of the toughest regions in Alabama. Defending Class 4A state champion UMS-Wright calls the region home, as do historic powerhouse Thomasville and one-loss Andalusia.

The Blue Devils have given up more than double the points they’ve scored this year and have given up 40 points or more in all but two games this season. To its credit, the ECHS offense has looked potent at times, scoring 20 or more points three times.

ECHS won state championships in 1957, 1974 and 1983, according to www.ahsfhs.org. The Blue Devils took home region titles in 1974, 1975, 1977, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1991 and 1993.

At this point last season, the Blue Devils had three wins and were only a few years removed from a playoff appearance.

The Blue Devils’ last winning decade was 1980-1989, where they went 67-45. Since that time ECHS has a record of 82-167, according to the website. ECHS has also seen a drop in enrollment from 486 sophomores through seniors in the 1994-95 season to 377 last year.

BCHS has also been plagued by a loss in enrollment, especially with the opening of Spanish Fort High School. Ten years ago, BCHS boasted 803 students in 10th through 12th grades, according to the website. It had 789 students in those three grades in 2012-2013. BCHS ranked 54th in attendance last year.

ECHS has played the Tigers more than any other team. The teams have met 86 times, with Baldwin County coming out on top 46 times. ECHS has won 36 times and four games have ended in a tie.

Baldwin County longest running rivalry is against Foley High School. Those two schools have played 91 times, with Foley edging BCHS in a majority of contests.

I won’t make a prediction for this game, but I will say that ECHS has a good shot against the 6A school. Chris Johnson and Devante Williams are a strong combination through the air and Gaetyn Thames has the ability to pick up big chunks of yardage on the ground.

The Tigers’ defense this year is abysmal and should allow for the Blue Devils to score points.

The smaller numbers for ECHS will mean — and has meant all season — that these offensive stars will have to pull double duty. The Blue Devils’ defense will have to play like they did in the first half and early second half against Hillcrest-Evergreen, but not get tired down.

Dale Liesch is a news reporter for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at dale.liesch@atmoreadvance.com

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