'Pivotal game' for Devils

Published 11:14 am Friday, October 5, 2007

By By Matthew Nascone
The game that Escambia County High School head football coach Kyle Davis called a must-win before the season began has now taken on another role for the Blue Devils.
"The Jackson game is the most pivotal game of the year for us," Davis said. "We no longer believe we have to win this one to be a playoff team, but to host a playoff game. Our goal now is to host a playoff game and we also want to have that regional championship, so winning this game is a must."
The Blue Devils and Aggies square off Friday night in Jackson, and to win the game Davis said he told his team they need to forget last week's 49-14 loss to AHSAA Class 5A No. 7 St. Paul's and move on.
"We have told the kids that last week's loss meant nothing as far as the region and the playoffs are concerned," he said. "Yeah, it ruined our undefeated season, but we need to think in the short term and let it go. We need to have the same mentality we did after the emotional high of beating Miller. We won and we celebrated for two or three hours and we got back to business. Now we need to forget about the loss and get back to business."
There are a couple factors that are needed for an ECHS win Friday night.
"Our defense has to remain confident," Davis said. "We got gashed last week, but we don't need to worry about that. We need to get back to playing the smash mouth, hard-hitting football that got us where we are today. And we need to continue to play that intense whistle to whistle."
The game against St. Paul's was not a complete loss, according to Davis.
"We might have lost big, but I think that game against St. Paul's was our best game on offense," he said. "We put together a couple of good scoring drives. We were overmatched on the line, but as far as skill positions go, we had a good game."
To win, the Devils will have to shut down Jackson running back Andrew Ezell and wide receiver Corey Bestida. Davis said the team will also have their hands full with quarterback Darius Austin, who is a transfer from Northview High School in Bratt, Fla.
"He throws the ball well," Davis said.
The Aggies will also throw kick returner Damian Bracy at the Devils, who has returned a couple of kicks for touchdowns already.
The turnover battle is what Davis said he believes will be the determining factor in the game.
"Whoever wins the turnover battle wins the game," he said. "They turn the ball over about as much as we do and whoever can keep their number of turnovers down will come away with the game."
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Jackson.

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