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Atmore hosts region war

By By Matthew Nascone
Rivalry games seem to bring the best out of most teams. As the Escambia County Blue Devils football team squares off with the rival No. 2 T.R. Miller Tigers, ECHS head coach Kyle Davis will be looking for that one extra play to push the Devils over the edge.
Last year, on Miller's home turf, ECHS (2-0, 1-0 in Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 4A Region 1 play) made a game of what many thought would be an easy Tiger win. In the end the scoreboard read 28-20, but Davis knows it should have read differently.
"Last year our boys battled their tails off," Davis said. "And it came down to one play and I called a bad play, so it was all on my shoulders because our guys played well enough to win."
Davis said that game last year has changed the way Big Blue looks at the rivalry.
"These guys would have the attitude of 'Oh man we have to play Miller' before, but after last year they believe they can compete with Miller."
How the Devils look at the game cannot change that ECHS has not defeated the Tigers since 1992, but Davis said his team also uses that as motivation to take them down. This year also signifies another change, Miller is now in the same region as ECHS. This means it is not just a rivalry game anymore, it means something and can have an impact on making the playoffs. And Davis has been preparing his team for that fact.
"We know they will be good, since they are coming in as the No. 2-ranked team in the state," he said. "You can't say enough about the job coach Riggs has done over there. They are a very disciplined squad and they beat you by not making mistakes."
The Blue Devils have committed seven turnovers in the first two games of the season and Davis said that has to change if ECHS can take down the Tigers.
"Turnovers have not come back to haunt us yet," Davis said. "We have to eliminate the mistakes because Miller will turn them into points."
ECHS and Miller enter the game with identical records of 2-0 and 1-0 in region play. Davis said opening region play with a win over W.S. Neal last week can only have a positive affect on Big Blue.
"When these guys beat Neal I think it became a reality to them that they can be as good as they want to be," he said. "That game was the culmination of two year's of working with these kids because it showed them that teamwork and dedication pays off. And we will need every bit of that teamwork and dedication Friday if we want to have a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter against Miller."
Quarterback Baxley Raines and fullback Justin Gomez will be on Davis' radar when game time rolls around. And the Devils will put pressure on Raines as they have in the first two game, compiling 20 sacks.
Kickoff time is set for 7 p.m. at Herbert Barnes Stadium.