Blue Devils open 2011 at Miller

Published 4:04 pm Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Escambia County Blue Devils open their season on Aug. 26 with a game at T.R. Miller in Brewton.|File Photo

In a little more than two months, the lights at Herbert Barnes Stadium will be beaming down on the football field at Escambia County High School as the Blue Devils take the field for their first home game on Sept. 9 against the UMS-Wright Bulldogs.

Before that though, the Blue Devils will have to push through two tough road games as they open the season on Aug. 26 at T.R. Miller in Brewton and B.C. Rain on Sept. 2 in Mobile.

After navigating the Escambia County Blue Devils to a 7-3 record in his first season as head coach, Mark Heaton hopes to improve on that win-loss mark with the same slate of teams scheduled for 2011.

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Now that Heaton is preparing for his second season leading ECHS, he and the program are working to improve on where they finish in Class 4A Region 1 after finishing fourth out of seven teams in 2010.

Region play, which includes B.C. Rain, UMS-Wright, W.S. Neal, Thomasville, Saraland, Jackson and Monroe County, will be the X-factor for the Blue Devils as they push for a second consecutive playoff berth.

Heaton said that the region his team is in always presents a challenge.

“The schedule top to bottom if another tough schedule with the region that we are in,” he said. “With the seven region games we have, it seems like our region is going to be even tougher this season. A lot of the teams that were in the bottom of the region last year are going to be improved this year.”

Outside of the region, the Blue Devils take on T.R. Miller in Brewton and Faith Academy and Baldwin County High School coming to Herbert Barnes Stadium in Atmore.

“Our non-region schedule presents three tough games as well,” he said. “I think T.R. Miller will be a lot better. Jamie Riggs is a competitor and he knows how to prepare his players. Faith Academy will be better with a veteran group coming back, and we play them in a dangerous time as everyone is starting to peak. Baldwin County hired a new coach, so if they have been successful early then that will be a tough game for us.”

With the region being so important, Heaton is preparing for each team to be at their best.

He said that he knows who will always be good, but expects some teams that have been down to bounce back.

“If you look at it from our standpoint and keep us out of the mix, Jackson and Thomasville are going to the be the Top 2 teams to beat in the region,” he said. “UMS-Wright is right there with them as well and no one ever knows what to expect from B.C. Rain because they are always athletic. Jeff Kelley took the job down at Saraland, so everyone knows that they are going to be more improved this season. Coach Hayne over at W.S. Neal is a great guy and great coach that is working to turn that program around. Everyone in our region will be better.”

With seven games to accomplish the goal, Heaton said he wants his players fighting for region championship.

“Ultimately, our goal is to win the region,” he said. “We expect to be in the mix and we want to get to the halfway point with the chance to be able to compete for a region championship.”

Escambia County 2011 Schedule

Aug. 26 T.R. Miller Away 7 p.m.

Sept. 2 B.C. Rain Away 7 p.m.

Sept. 9 UMS-Wright Home 7 p.m.

Sept. 16 W.S. Neal Away 7 p.m.

Sept. 23 Faith Aca. Home 7 p.m.

Sept. 30 Thomasville Home 7 p.m.

Oct. 7 Saraland Away 7 p.m.

Oct. 14 Jackson Away 7 p.m.

Oct. 21 Monroe Co. Home 7 p.m. (HC)

Oct. 28 Baldwin Co. Home 7 p.m.