Revenge on minds of Blue Devils
By By Matthew Nascone
With a home playoff game locked up for the first time in 14 years, the Escambia County High School Blue Devils (6-2, 5-1 AHSAA Class 4A, Region 1) are playing for something different this week.
"Last year's loss to Southside-Selma was very disappointing and very embarrassing for us," ECHS head coach Kyle Davis said. "That loss kept us from having a winning record and we are telling these kids that we didn't win that game because we didn't prepare for that game. We took them too lightly. We will not do that again."
The Panthers from Southside-Selma (2-6, 1-5) came into Atmore last year and walked away with a 12-7 upset of the Blue Devils on Senior Night. Davis said this year's team has something else to prove.
"We want there to be no doubt in anyone's mind that we are No. 2 in the region," Davis said. "You hate being No. 2, but we have had a lot of good things happen this year and we want to finish the regular season off with an 8-2 record. We want to be able to say we beat everyone else besides Thomasville. We want to show everyone that we are a good football team."
To do that, Davis said his team needs to show the same hardnosed defensive style they have shown all season.
"Defensively we don't know what they are going to run because we have watched film and in every game they line up differently on offense and defense," he said. "So, we will have to continue to do what we do best, and that is shut down the run, play solid defense and take care of our responsibilities."
The Blue Devils' offense started off strong, but has come along in the past three games, according to Davis. The reason for this is four-fold.
"The first thing is Rico (Stallworth) has matured since the first game," he said. "When we opened the season, he was a 14-year-old freshman, and now he is still that 14-year-old, but he has shown a lot of poise the past couple of weeks. The next thing is our offensive line has really meshed together and they are getting the job done. Third, we have executed early in games and that helps us settle down into our game. We have looked more fluid and comfortable out there on the field. And of course, Katral (James) has been running the football well."
James has run it to the tune of 990 yards on the ground with a 7.3-yard per carry average and 15 touchdowns in the Blue Devils' eight games.
Davis said this game will come down to how well the Devil defense shuts down the Panther running attack. Running back Kevin Rowe leads the Panthers' attack.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Selma.