Tigers ready to get back to work
By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
Their stadium has no electricity. They have no scoreboard. Their lighting system has been damaged. Debris is scattered all over their school campus.
None of that will prevent the T.R. Miller Tigers from hosting the Andalusia Bulldogs albeit the game has been moved from 7:30 p.m. on Friday to 1 p.m. on Saturday. The scheduling changes are a result of the impact of Hurricane Ivan.
There was some original discussion of moving the non-region game from Brewton to Andalusia since Andalusia currently has electricity at its stadium.
"Andalusia has power, but their scoreboard and lighting system sustained damage too. In a lot of respects, they aren't any better off than we are," T.R. Miller coach Jamie Riggs said. "In additition to the damage that we can see, we aren't sure what other electrical problems we have until the power is restored and we don't know when that will happen."
Riggs said the bottom line is the Tigers need to host the game from a community standpoint.
"Brewton has been through so much in the last week. The people here need something to take their minds off of what is going on in their personal lives. What better way to unite a community than a high school football game," Riggs said.
Even though communication within the program has been tough, participation was at nearly 100 percent when practice resumed Monday.
"We've tried to get our Monday practice notice on the radio and in the paper, but the best source has been word of mouth," Riggs said. "We had all but two players at practice Monday and I believe we had everybody here Tuesday. I'm extremely pleased at that response considering everything."
T.R. Miller (3-0 overall and 2-0 in Class 3A Region 1) will be facing an Andalusia team that has won both of its region games in Class 4A Region 1 after a 10-0 loss to Straughn in its non-region opener. The Bulldogs rebounded from that game with wins over Gulf Shores 33-24 and Escambia County 15-14.
"Andalusia has shown a lot of improvement since last season (when the Bulldogs went 2-8). I think a big key to that is Coach (Tom) Causey has had a year to get his system in place. Their offense has done a good job of getting the ball to the outside and their defense hasn't given up many big plays. For the most part, they've made the opposing teams have to grind it out against them," Riggs said.
Running back Curtis Johnson has made the most of his opportunities for the Bulldogs. Johnson only has nine attempts, but has averaged nearly 11 yards a carry for a team high 98 yards with a touchdown. Johnson had 161 yards of all-purpose yards in Andalusia's most recent game against Escambia County.
Johnson is the lone Bulldog who has generated much rushing offense. Michael Berry is the second leading rusher, but has just 32 yards (less than 11 yards per game).
Quarterback Matt Mellown has completed half of his passes (10-for-20) for 155 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.
"They try to ru a ball control offense with the option game and Mellown tends to throw the ball pretty well when called upon. For the most part, they've done a pretty good job at it," Riggs said. "Andalusia is a pretty young team, but they're getting a lot of contributions from a good sophomore and freshmen class."
Riggs said one plus to being idle last week is it gave players a chance to get healthy.
"Knock on wood, we really haven't had any serious injuries so far. However, you do have the normal bumps and bruises and being off last week gave the players time to heal up a little bit," Riggs said.