Tigers look to tame opportunistic Opp

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 14, 2003

Tonight’s 4A second round playoff match-up between the Opp Bobcats and the Demopolis Tigers is a first. The two football teams have never met before and know very little about one another.

This year’s trip to the playoffs will be the first since 1999 for the Bobcats who were defeated in the second round by Shelby County.

As a matter of fact, the Bobcats have never made it past the second round. But in his fourth year as the Opp head coach, Jeff Rhodes plans to change all that and has spent the last three years building and re-building this team into what it is today, a highly functional option oriented football team that is prepared to go further than ever before in the playoffs.

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But in order to do that they will have to get past a strong, hard hitting defensive (11-0) Tigers team that also has their eye fixed on making it further than ever before.

And though there is oddly no history between the two teams but that doesn’t mean that they don’t know what to expect from each other come Friday night. "Their coaching staff does a great job. Their receivers run their routes well and make it hard to cover them. Defensively they get after it and don’t do anything stupid," Rhodes said.

Coach Rhodes may not know much about the Tigers but he knows enough to know they are good. "Well, I think that going (23-1) speaks for itself," Rhodes said of the undefeated Tigers.

Oddly enough, the only thing that these two teams might have in common is the fact that both of them faced close and tough first round opponent. Ironically, both teams won their first round playoff games by a margin of two points. The Bobcats pulled out a nail bitter last week beating the Beauregard Hornets 16-14, while the Tigers came from behind to knock off the Choctaw County Tigers 14-12.

But don’t expect the same thing to happen this week. Last week’s game was the lowest scoring game this season for the Tigers and the lack of performance was clearly evident, even to coach Rhodes. "After watching the film from last week I could see that they just were not playing up to the level that there are capable of," Rhodes said.

Though Rhodes is fully aware of just how tough the Tigers truly are, he has no plans of backing down form them. "I think it will be a great challenge for our offense. I don’t see us changing anything around offensively. We are going to stay with what has worked for us all season and see if they can stop it," Rhodes said.

What has worked for the Bobcats has been the option and DHS head coach Doug Godwin can clearly see that they know what they are doing when they have the ball. "They can run it real well at times," Goodwin said. But doing their magic has been difficult this season when the Bobcats have been on the road. "Well, we do seem to play better at home," Rhodes said. The Bobcats have lost only two games this season but both have been on the road.

And while the Bobcats have problems playing on the road, the Tigers are having health problems. "After 11 games your bound to be banged up,’ Goodwin said.

So what will be the key that opens the door to victory for these two teams? "I think the key for us defensively is going to be to keep them from passing the ball. We seem to do a better job at stopping the run. So if we can keep them on the ground then the game will play into our favor," Rhodes said.

And as for the Tigers, Goodwin feels it will come down to a solid defensive performance with limited mistakes on both sides of the ball. "We have to be disciplined on defense and I think the key to stopping them is to get to that big fullback first then worry about the quarterback. Offensively we have to keep from turning the ball over," Goodwin said.