ECHS fighting slump

Published 6:14 pm Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Escambia County Blue Devils’ defense gets coaching from their coaches during their loss to Thomasville on Oct. 1. The Blue Devils travel to Jackson Friday night.|Photo by Chandler Myers

With last week’s loss, the Escambia County Blue Devils moved into a tie for fourth place with the Saraland Spartans, which gives the Spartans an edge in the tiebreaker should the teams remain tied in the region race.

The road for the Blue Devils (3-4, 2-3) gets no easier this week when they travel to Jackson to take on the Jackson Tigers in an important region matchup.

The No. 2 Tigers (7-0, 5-0) have run through their competition this season and present possibly a tougher challenge than No. 1 Thomasville did two weeks ago.

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Another thing fresh on both teams’ minds is the result of the last game played between these two teams at Legion Field. The Blue Devils overcame a 21-0 deficit to win 22-21 and advance to the quarterfinals of the playoffs.

The Tigers will be looking to avenge that loss, while the Blue Devils will attempt to make it two in a row against Jackson.

Getting a second straight win against Jackson will be no easy task, Escambia County head coach Mark Heaton said.

“Jackson is a very good team,” he said. “They are talented, well coached and play extremely hard. It’s a region game, which we need to win the next two to be in the playoff hunt.”

For the Blue Devils to give themselves a chance to win, there are several areas they need to improve before taking the field.

Following directions and playing how the coaches instruct them are important for ECHS to be able to compete, Heaton said.

“They need to do what they are coached to do,” he said. “Whenever we do our assignments and game plan then we are good. When we don’t do that, then we aren’t real good.”

Once the game starts, finding ways to make things happen on both sides of the ball will determine how the Blue Devils come out in the match up.

Stopping big plays on defense and making important plays on offense are the most important steps to winning, Heaton said.

“Defensively, we have to minimize the big plays,” he said. “That will give our team a chance to get the ball and establish some drives. Offensively, we need to make plays when we need them. We have to convert the third-down plays that are important in keeping us on the field.”

Mentally, the Blue Devils are still working to become a better team.

Playing with the right attitude is a problem that as held ECHS back this season, Heaton said.

“Team attitude is important,” he said. “Getting everybody on the same page and believing in what we are doing is crippling us right now. If we can ever do that and get our attitudes right, then we’ll be all right.”

The game plan for ECHS in this matchup will be running and controlling the clock.

Having the ball and being successful with it will go a long way towards a win, Heaton said.

“We’ll try and establish our run game more and see if we can’t control the ball a little more offensively,” he said. “We need to control the time of possession and see how that works.”

The Blue Devils and Tigers kick off at 7 p.m. Friday in Jackson.