Ready or not
Published 10:54 am Wednesday, August 30, 2006
By BY BRUCE HIXON – sports editor
Work will proceed as usual with the T.R. Miller Tigers this week. At the same time, coach Jamie Riggs admits his team has gone about as far as it can go at this point of the preseason.
The Tigers will get that opportunity Friday when they kick off the 2006 season with a non-region road game against the Clarke County Bulldogs. Game time is 7 p.m.
T.R. Miller has been able to get off to a quick start for several years. The Tigers have won seven straight season openers and 15 of their past 16. However, that one loss was a 14-12 setback at Grove Hill against the Bulldogs in 1998.
Grove Hill has not been the kindest place for T.R. Miller to visit. The Tigers also dropped a 22-14 decision there in 2000 before they later rebounded to win the state championship.
Since T.R. Miller and Clarke County last hooked up in 2003, the Bulldogs have strung back-to-back playoff berths together. Clarke County is coming off a 6-5 overall mark, 5-2 in Class 3A Region 2 a year ago. The Bulldogs lost in the opening round of the playoffs to Springville 32-18.
Clarke County has only nine returning starters among its 22 spots, but much of their experience comes with the skill spots.
Two of the biggest, both literally and figuratively, are tailback Jamarcus Robinson (5-10, 205 lb. sr.) and fullback Kenneth Kimbrough (5-11, 205 lb. jr.).
Clarke County is going with a young and new signal caller, as Tyler Walker (5-9, 145 lb. soph.) is expected to get the call. Walker does have the benefit of having an experienced wideout with Duane Owens (5-9, 150 lb. jr.).
Clarke County's offense has the benefit of having a solid kicker, Dwight Chapman (5-11, 240 lb. sr.).
The T.R. Miller skipper said the Clarke County defense is not that big or experienced.
Clarke County is the first of what figures to be three difficult non-region games for the Tigers this season. Last season T.R. Miller's three non-region foes (Escambia County, Andalusia and Jay, Fla.) had a combined 12-18 regular season record. Only Andalusia made the playoffs. This season T.R. Miller's three non-region foes (Clarke County, Straughn and Trinity Presbyterian) were a combined 19-11 in regular season play last year and each made the playoffs.
challenges ahead of us, starting with Clarke County,” Riggs said.
Riggs said a team can gain a certain amount of momentum from its season opener.