Early season crossroads

Published 12:06 pm Wednesday, September 13, 2006

By BY BRUCE HIXON – sports editor
Southside-Selma is drawing plenty of attention from the W.S. Neal Blue Eagles coaching staff this week, but there is another priority that is an even bigger focus.
W.S. Neal (1-1 overall) will try to rebound from last week's disappointing 26-14 loss to Escambia County in the Class 4A Region 1 opener Friday when it travels to Southside-Selma for another region clash. Game time is 7 p.m.
The host Panthers have also had their share of early season problems. Southside-Selma has been outscored 77-14 over the first two weeks by Selma and T.R. Miller. Southside-Selma dropped a 35-14 decision at T.R. Miller last week in its first region game.
One of the first areas the Blue Eagles will try to get going again is the ground game. W.S. Neal racked up 272 yards rushing in its season opener against Daleville, but had just 69 against Escambia County.
Ball control is also a big concern after the Blue Eagles turned the ball over four times and got stopped on downs on another occasion.
Southside-Selma continued its two-quarterback rotation against T.R. Miller, but Evell Rubin (6-0, 180 lb. jr.) accounted for 95 of the Panthers 103 passing yards in that game.
The Panther who may be draw most of W.S. Neal's attention may be wide receiver Willie Cooper (6-0, 190 lb. jr.). Cooper had five catches for 79 yards and a touchdown last week. Kevin Rown (5-10, 185 lb. jr.) is also a threat out of the backfield.
The game may come down as to who makes the least mistakes on special teams.
Southside-Selma had a punt blocked against Selma. The Panthers were unable to get a kick off on one attempt against T.R. Miller and punter Orlando Brown mustered just a four-yard kick on another try.