Blue Devils host No. 1

Published 9:24 am Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Escambia County Blue Devils wide receiver Tyjustine Brown eludes a Faith Academy defender after catching a pass from Blue Devils quarterback Chris Johnson. The Blue Devils play the Thomasville Tigers this week at Herbert Barnes Stadium. |Photo by AJ Beachy

Friday night presents the largest challenge that the Escambia County Blue Devils will have faced all season.

The No. 1 Thomasville Tigers will travel to Atmore to take on the Escambia County Blue Devils in a Region 1 match up.

The Tigers, the defending Class 4A state champions,come to Atmore with an undefeated 5-0 record that includes high-profile victories over Sweet Water and Demopolis.

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With this week’s match up comes the chance for the Blue Devils to make a statement against a top-ranked opponent.

Making that statement will be difficult against the team Thomasville has this season, Escambia County Blue Devils head coach Mark Heaton said.

“Thomasville is a great team with a great tradition,” he said. “They are going through a string of talented years. They have a lot of talented players back from last year’s state championship team and coach (Jack) Hankins does a tremendous job.”

To be comeptitive in this game, the Blue Devils will have to play their best game of the season keeping mistakes at a minimal.

Capitalizing on both sides of theball will be important, Heaton said.

“I’d like it if we could capitalize on our opportunities,” he said. “We need to make sure we score when we have good field position or make big plays. Defensively, we need to create more turnovers and make more stops on third down. Putting all of that together will help us compete in this game.”

Thomasville will bring a powerful offense and defense to Herbert Barnes Stadium on Friday night.

Offensively, the Tigers will look to pound the Blue Devils defense before going to the air to stretch the field.

Stopping the big play will be important for the ECHS defense,” Heaton said.

“Their offense will do a lot of different things,” he said. “They will use their power running game to come right at us, but they will also look to make things happen with big passes. We have to limit their big plays in order to keep ourselves in this game.”

On defense, the Tigers are talented from front to back with their linebackers making the big difference.

Thomasville will be all over the field swarming to the ball, Heaton said.

“Their defense is led by a strong linebacking group,” he said. “They are probably one of the best linebacker groups in the state. All over their defense though, they have great players who will fly to the ball, so we have to make things happen on offense.”

With the season at the halfway point, the Blue Devils have faced injuries, but are only one loss away from being where they were last season.

The team continues to get better, which is always good to see, Heaton said.

“I think the Lord that he has allowed us to get better each week,” he said. “I think our character is showing because our players are working hard. Hopefully, the second half of the season, we will make a big turn.”

The Blue Devils and Tigers kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday night at Herbert Barnes Stadium.