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Eagles ready to soar into Winterboro

A.L. Johnson (6-4, 5-3) clinched its playoff destiny two weeks ago. The Eagles then went on the road to get a win over rival Marengo High in a game that meant nothing in terms of seeding. It is largely because of that scenario Mose Jones has confidence in his team’s mindset as it heads into the first round of the AHSAA Class 1A state playoffs.

“That kind of tells me that we’re pretty much ready for the playoffs,” Jones said of his team. “Against Marengo, we looked real good. Coming down the stretch, we’ve been playing some pretty decent football.”

The Eagles finished as the No. 3 seed in Class 1A, Region 3. That standing entitles the team to take a three-hour bus trip Winterboro to take on the No. 2 seed from Region 4. In the Bulldogs of Winterboro High, Jones anticipates that his team will have its hands full.

“We’re going to be contending with speed,” Jones said. “I think with the speed that we have, we’re going to be able to stick right with them. They try to outscore you, but we’re up to the challenge.”

Jones said the Bulldogs’ offensive scheme includes a lot of speed and midline options, a strategy that allows Winterboro to get to the edge and utilize its speed. To counter, Jones hopes his 3-5 defense will be able to be quick to the point of attack, keeping the Bulldog offense out of synch.

“If we can kind of keep Winterboro on their heels, keep them off balance and don’t let them get comfortable, we should be in real good shape,” Jones said.

For the Eagles, Friday marks a return to the playoffs after a disappointing 2008 that ended with a 4-6 record and an early start to basketball practice.

“They are real excited,” Jones said. “Intensity is high and motivation is high. They have started believing in themselves more and more every snap.”

Jones said his team is so excited to be in the playoffs that the three-hour bus trip presents no obstacle to the squad’s focus.

“That’s not going to be a real big problem. Once we get there and get going, we’ll be ready to play,” Jones said. “We’re just glad to be there and don’t care where we’re going to play. We want to win, survive this round and get to the second round.”