Cougars face archrival Monroe

Published 4:53 pm Wednesday, October 26, 2005

By By Adam Prestridge
With their second consecutive Alabama Independent School Association's Class 2A, East Region title under their belt, the Escambia Academy Cougars (7-2, 7-1) are aiming to earn bragging rights in a rival game this Friday night.
The Cougars will hit the road this week to take on archrival Monroe Academy, who edged them last year on their home turf, 28-20.
"Monroe is a real good ball team," Escambia Academy head coach Heath Gibson said. "They are better than a lot of people expect out of them. They play in 3A against teams that are really tough."
Last Friday night, Escambia Academy blew out the Abbeville Generals at home, 41-0, to claim the region title. With the playoffs looming, Gibson doesn't want any of his players to get injured in the Monroe game, but is eyeing another win and plans to approach the game like any other.
"It's one of those things where you worry more about your team because we're in the playoffs," Gibson explained. "They're (Monroe) not going to playoffs and are playing for bragging rights. We're trying to keep our players injury free. It's a hard situation trying not to get anyone beat and banged in practice this week, but you still have to go hard because it's your rival."
Monroe has only notched one win this season, sporting a 1-8 record. Despite their record, Gibson isn't taking them lightly.
"They are the best 1-8 teams I've seen this year," he said. "We've got our work cutout for us; it's going to be a good ballgame."
Gibson's main concern Friday night is Monroe's running game. He believes it will take sound defense to slow them down.
"We're going to have to come out and play a very physical football game," Gibson said. "Monroe has a very big and physical fullback that can run the ball well and we've got to stop him. If we can control him, I think we'll be alright everywhere else."
"He is an extremely large fullback," Gibson continued. "I feel like it's going to be tough to bring him down. We're going to have to hit him hard every time he touches the football and make him pay the price. We've got to wear him down."
Fortunately, the Cougars are faster than Monroe, which should play to their advantage.
"I think our speed may help us out a little bit," Gibson said. "I feel like we've got a little bit more foot speed."
The Escambia Academy vs. Monroe game has been a huge rival game since the mid-70s, Gibson said. Even though the playoffs are the first steps to a state title, Gibson said he's not calling off the dogs.
"We're going for the win, we're not going to hold anything back; we're going to put it all on the line," he said. "You don't want to get anybody hurt, but we're going for the win."

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