Bye week no off week for Tigers
By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
In the National Football League, this week would be called the T.R. Miller Tigers bye week.
Actually this bye week was not originally planned. While T.R. Miller concluded its regular season last week as originally scheduled, it finished up against Abbeville, not Jay (Fla.).
The Tigers lost the playing date against Jay when the Alabama High School Athletic Association rescheduled the state's week four games for week 10 and it moved the week 10 games to week 11. It also moved start of the playoffs back a week. Jay was unable to play T.R. Miller this week because it already had a game scheduled against Milton (Fla.).
While the Tigers (7-0 in Class 3A Region 1 and 9-0 overall) lost a potentially big home gate against Jay as well as a good postseason tuneup, the bye week is not all bad.
For starters, it gives T.R. Miller some time to heal its walking wounded.
"If you're going to have a week off, especially if you're a playoff team, this week is probably as good as any to be off," T.R. Miller coach Jamie Riggs said. "We've had a lot of people hurt recently. I'm hopeful with the time off we're getting, we should have everybody back in some capacity when the playoffs start."
The injured list includes running backs Antonio Gomez (knee), Nykeem Barton (ankle) and Tim Atcher (shoulder), kickers Reo Kirkland (ankle) and Baxley Raines (groin) and defensive Gerald Banton (back).
"Antonio resumed some light practice last week. He won't be 100 percent when we start the playoffs, but he should be available in some limited duties. Nykeem is expected to be back in practice this week. Tim is more of a wait-and-see approach, but we're hoping he will be able to at least practice on a limited basis," Riggs said. "Reo should resume kicking this week. Baxley has continued to kick, but has been a little limited in what he can do. He should be much better by the time the playoffs start. Gerald should also be ready to go."
The week off from competition also gives the Tigers coaching staff an extra week to study West Blocton. West Blocton will travel to T.R. Miller for the opening round of the Class 3A playoffs on November 12 in a 7 p.m. game. West Blocton (4-3 in Class 3A Region 3 and 6-3 overall) closes out its regular season this Friday with a non-region game at 4A member Oak Grove.
"We'll get to watch West Blocton in person Friday. Video tape has gotten much better in recent years, but it's still an advantage getting to watch a team in person. You tend to get a much better feel of their size and especially their speed," Riggs said.
The T.R. Miller coach said there are some specific things he will be looking for at the West Blocton-Oak Grove game.
"One of the biggest things we will look for is the different schemes they run. We'll try to figure out who are their best offensive and defensive players. We'll look at who they try to get the ball to the most and who they go to in certain situations," Riggs said.
With their perfect regular season now in the books, Riggs said that was not something he looked for when the season began.
"It's nothing against these guys. It just wasn't a goal we considered when the season began. Sometimes the best things in life are unexpected," Riggs said. "There are just so many things this team has overcome to achieve that undefeated regular season. They've overcome a lot of injuries, the disruption of the season by the hurricane and they also had to play all three of the other region playoff qualifiers (Straughn, Slocomb and Pike County) on the road."
Junior quarterback Jordan Cauley surpassed the 1,000
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yards mark for the season in last Friday's 42-6 win over Abbeville.
"That's a nice accomplishment for Jordan, especially when you consider he split time at the quarterback spot with Antonio earlier in the season and we're really not a throwing team. Probably just as nice as the 1,000 yards is the fact he has thrown just one interception," Riggs said.
Senior wide receiver Jacob Salter has caught nearly half of Cauley's production with 13 receptions for 487 yards and seven touchdowns. Cauley has averaged 37.5 yards per catch.
"We knew Jacob was capable of being a big play receiver. He makes things happen when he gets the ball," Riggs said.
An often overlooked but vital part of T.R. Miller's success has been sophomore kicker Baxley Raines, who has made 43 of 46 point after attempts as well as a couple of field goals.
"Baxley has had the groin injury that has slowed him down a bit. I've seen several games lost over the years because of missed extra points. The way Baxley has kicked for us is certainly a big plus," Riggs said.
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