Tigers on roll travelling to Clarke County
Published 7:30 pm Wednesday, September 10, 2003
By By RANDY WINTON Sports Writer
Through two weeks of this young football season, T.R. Miller has stood up to the challenges of facing – and rendering useless – a pair of offensive juggernauts in racing out to a 2-0 start.
Nothing much changes this week, when the top-ranked Tigers (2-0, 1-0) travel to Clarke County (2-0, 1-0) for a Region 1 contest, where they will square off with a Bulldog team that has lit up the scoreboard like a pinball machine in its first two games. Scoring 83 points in wins over Greene County (40-12) and Calhoun (43-0), the first-team offensive unit has only played a total of 29 minutes.
They have done so despite replacing a graduated Montrell Armstrong, who is the school's all-time leading rusher and is No. 2 on the state's all-time rushing list with over 4,000 yards and 44 touchdowns. In last year's game, which the Tigers won, 21-0, they held Armstrong to a paltry 50 yards on 20 carries. He has been replaced by Willie Horn, who already has four rushing touchdowns and 170 yards in limited time.
Indeed. In last week's win over Calhoun, the Bulldogs scored four touchdowns in the first six minutes of the game. Their scoring drives came on drives of 3, 1, 1 and 2 plays, respectively. Granted, all came as a result of fumbles inside Calhoun's 15-yard line.
In fact, the Clarke County defense has been menacing, having already recorded 13 takeaways: 12 on fumbles, another via an interception.
Facing a defense with such a penchant for taking the ball away, Riggs points out his own team's need for taking care of the ball. In their first two games, the Tigers have lost five of the 10 times they have fumbled. Although it hasn't hurt them to this point, it has been the only concern for an offense that has otherwise executed well.
Aside from those fumbles, the offense has been impressive, especially in its 35-14 win over Straughn last Friday. In that game, senior quarterback Brad Lannom threw for a career-high 205 yards, connecting on 12 of his 18 passes, and two touchdowns. The Tigers balanced the aerial attack by rushing for another 203 yards.
Skylar Fountain and Michael Jones accounted for 170 of those yards and three more scores. Jones continues to nurse a rib-cage injury he suffered last week, and is listed as day-to-day, but should be ready to play.
From the defensive standpoint, the Tigers have overcome giving up a few big plays and have played pretty well. Demetris Preyer, Joseph Turner, Antonio Gomez, Justin Marshall and others have played well. And with the return of senior linebacker Samaritan Cunningham (health issues) and the possible return of Keath Turner (broken thumb), it will shore up a defense that is beginning to come into its own.
While Clarke County has won both games impressively, this week's game with Miller will be a true indication of where they stand.
In Greene County and Calhoun, it faced teams that won a total of two games a year ago. In Miller, they are not only facing the defending 3A state champion, but are butting heads with the winningest high school football team in the state of Alabama since 1990. And they are doing so with an inexperienced team that does not sport a lot of depth.
INJURY REPORT: Aside from Jones, senior lineman Kendrick Deere (knee) will be limited, while Gomez (toe) is day-to-day, but should play.
Senior lineman Kevin Ard, who has not been able to play this year, continues to nurse a bad ankle that could hold him out longer than expected.