EA back in playoffs

Published 11:19 pm Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Escambia Academy Cougars wide receiver Wesley Steadham runs the ball against the Monroe Academy Volunteers in last week’s loss. The Cougars head to Lanett this week to take on the Springwood School Wildcats in the first round of the playoffs.

After a one-year hiatus, the Escambia Academy Cougars are back in the postseason and get a trip to Lanett for the first round of the AISA playoffs.

The Cougars (7-4, 4-2) will take on the Springwood School Wildcats in a rematch of the first round of 2009. In that first match up, the Cougars were involved in a shootout and came away with a 46-38 victory in Lanett.

The Wildcats come into the match up sitting at No. ?? in the state and with a 10-1 record. Their lone loss came to region opponent Edgewood who finished the season undefeated and ranked No. 1.

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Springwood is a team with an impressive resume coming into this game, Escambia Academy head coach Heath Gibson said.

“They put a lot of points on the scoreboard this season,” he said. “They come in with one loss and are the No. 2 seed out of the east.”

Putting up a lot of points came easy for the run-oriented offense that the Wildcats run.

The benefit of having an impressive running back helped Springwood win this season, Gibson said. He added that he does not expect anything different from his opponent.

“They have a large tailback that runs the ball hard,” he said. “They run the I-formation and look to come at us off tackle. I don’t look for them to do anything different because we have had issues stopping the off tackle runs.”

The Cougars defense, which has had trouble stopping power runs is hoping to have important players back this week.

The scheme used against Springwood will be determined on the personnel available at game time, Gibson said.

“We are still waiting on some key players to get evaluated,” he said. “Reid Bell and Blake Quimby are getting evaluated  on their spleens today and Robert Whatley will be tomorrow, so hopefully those guys will be released to play. It all determines on if they are released on how we gameplan and scheme for them. We have a preliminary plan for if they are cleared, but we have a backup plan if they are unable to go.”

Offensively, the Cougars have improved at moving the ball down the field all season long.

One problem, EA faces is penalties and giving the ball up to opponents.

If the Cougars are able to limit the mistakes they make, they will be in a good chance to compete for a win, Gibson said.

“I think we need to play disclipined football,” he said. “We need to execute each play, limit our turnovers and cut down on penalties. We are still getting penalized too much. I think that if we do those things then we will definitely be in the game.”
Looking at the two teams that are meeting for the second time in three seasons looks like a mirror image.

With the exeception of how the teams play, the two are similiar in size and athlete appearances, Gibson said.

“We both had sophomore classes two years ago,” he said. “Both teams have developed and we are a lot a like. We  like to spread it out more to where they like to run it off tackle, but player for player, we look a lot a like.”

With a trip to the second round on the line, the Cougars will need to be prepared to play for four quarters.
Playing smart will be a big factor in winning, Gibson said.

“Come out, play hard and cut out mental mistakes,” he said.

The EA Cougars and Springwood Wildcats kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday at Springwood School in Lanett.