This year it's do or die for TRM, WSN
By By BRUCE HIXON – Sports Editor
Riggs: It's W.S. Neal, that is why it's our biggest game of the season
He will not argue the fact it is his team's biggest game of the season.
Yet T.R. Miller Tigers coach Jamie Riggs said it is not because the future of his team's season hinges on the outcome.
Rivalry aside, the Tigers face a situation when they travel to W.S. Neal Friday for their annual Murder Creek encounter with the Blue Eagles where they for all intent face a must-win situation when it comes to qualifying for the playoffs.
T.R. Miller (6-2 overall and 4-2 in Class 3A Region 1) will clinch a playoff berth with a win. With that scenario, the Tigers will get a number two seed and a first-round home game if Pike County beats Straughn or a number three seed and a first-round road game if Straughn upsets Pike County.
A loss most likely would knock the Tigers from the postseason field. The only way a loss would not eliminate T.R. Miller is if winless Dale County beats Slocomb. A loss to W.S. Neal and a Slocomb win would put all three teams at 4-3. T.R. Miller would be the odd team out because it would have lost to both head to head.
The T.R. Miller skipper said history is no factor this Friday despite the fact the Tigers have won 10 straight, 21 of 22, 24 of 26 and 32 of the last 35 meetings in the series. T.R. Miller has not lost at W.S. Neal since 1985.
What Riggs is concerned about from his counterpart is stopping the Blue Eagles' top four skill players. Tailback Mario Daniel leads W.S. Neal with 537 yards rushing, while fullback Jake Bailey has compiled 434 yards with a team high seven touchdowns. Quarterback Marquis Barksdale had thrown for 905 yards and six scores, while wide receiver Jonathan Alexander has caught 22 passes for 313 yards with a trio of touchdown receptions.
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can take off and run with it if you give him an opening. Alexander has pretty good speed and good hands,” Riggs said.
Riggs was complimentary of the work first-year W.S. Neal coach Blaine Hathcock and his staff have done this season.
While T.R. Miller enters the game coming off a 10-7 loss to Pike County that eliminated them from region championship contention, the Tigers did put together their best defensive effort of the season where they held the Bulldogs to 42 points below their season average, 185 yards and one-for-14 in third down situations.
Riggs expects quarterback Jordan Cauley to return to action this week after being knocked out with what was believed to be a slight concussion in the first quarter of the Pike County.