Tigers, Escambia County square off in battle of unbeatens

Published 12:07 pm Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Confidence can take a team a long way. It is something the Escambia County Blue Devils have not had much of in recent years, but a pair of victories to start the season has changed all that.
That confidence will also be something the T.R. Miller Tigers will have to deal with Friday when they travel to Atmore for a 7 p.m. Class 4A Region 1 game.
Both teams are undefeated so far and each captured their respective region openers. T.R. Miller followed up its season-opening 21-6 win over Clarke County with a 35-14 thrashing of Southside-Selma last week. Escambia County clipped Alabama Christian 28-15 in its opener and downed W.S. Neal 26-14 last week.
T.R. Miller has beaten Escambia County 12 straight times since the Blue Devils last won in the series, a 33-13 triumph in 1993.
Although he has not been in the starting lineup long, Blue Devils quarterback Michael Thomas (5-10, 165 lb. soph.) has wasted no time making a big impact. Thomas has accounted for 452 yards of
all-purpose offense the first
two weeks with 276 yards rushing and another 176 through the air.
Thomas' scrambling ability brings back nightmares to last season when Escambia County quarterback Calvin Hartley ran for 174 yards and threw for another 148 in a 28-20 loss to the Tigers.
DeMarcus Johnson (5-10, 175 lb. soph.), who had 51 yards rushing and a touchdown against W.S. Neal last week, gives the Blue Devils a solid threat at running back.
Jonathan McCants (6-0, 175 lb. sr.) has been Thomas' favorite target so far. Thomas had five catches for 64 yards, one of which went for a score against W.S. Neal.
Riggs added Lavelt Hale (5-10, 175 lb. sr.) and Elliott Faircloth (5-10, 160 lb. jr.) are also threats as receivers.
The T.R. Miller coach said linebacker Brandon McKenzie (6-1, 185 lb. sr.) has been a disruptive force so far.
their win against Alabama Christian and he gave W.S. Neal's offensive line a lot of trouble last week. He really gets after the quarterback,” Riggs said.
An additional plus for Escambia County in its first two games has been its kick
coverage. The Blue Devils recovered a fumble on a kickoff and blocked a punt against Alabama Christian. The Blue Devils also recovered a fumbled punt against W.S. Neal.
As far as his team is concerned, Riggs feels his team took some good steps forwards against Southside.

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