Momentum week builders:
Published 1:03 pm Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Tigers go for fourth straight as series with Monroe County renews
BY BRUCE HIXON – sports editor
They have been one of the most frequent opponents on the T.R. Miller Tigers schedule over the years. In fact, Friday's Class 4A Region 1 matchup at Brewton Municipal Stadium between T.R. Miller and the Monroe County Tigers will be their 54th encounter.
Despite being separated by only 40 miles the two sets of Tigers have not hooked up since 2001 when T.R. Miller notched a 40-8 victory.
While T.R. Miller has downed Clarke County, Southside-Selma and Escambia County by a combined 105-40 margin, Monroe County (2-1 overall and 1-1 in region play) has been on an early season seesaw. The Tigers blanked J.F. Shields 26-0 in their non-region season opener. One week later Jackson dismantled Monroe County 44-0 in the opening week of region play. The Tigers bounced back last week with a 27-14 win over Hillcrest-Evergreen.
Part of Monroe County's early season ups and downs can probably be attributed to its youth. The Tigers returned only seven combined starters from a year ago and their roster contains only eight seniors. Monroe County is especially dominated by youth in its sophomore class with 16 members.
Monroe County has predominantly used a shotgun formation with quarterback Byron Rivers (6-0, 175 lb. sr.) running the show.
The most active player in the Monroe County offense so far has been Dedrick Hawthorne (6-0, 170 lb. sr.).
Halfback Stephen Andrews (5-11, 205 lb. sr.) has led the Tigers ground game so far.
Monroe County's most active player on defense through the first three weeks has been linebacker Jarvis Ballard (5-11, 200 lb. sr.). Ballard has been at or close to double digits in tackles in each of Monroe County's first three games.
T.R. Miller is coming off arguably its best game of the season last week when it drilled Escambia County 49-20 with the exception of about a 20-second span where the Tigers had a 21-0 lead reduced to 21-14.
T.R. Miller set a season high for points (49), rushing yards (302) and total yards (368). The Tigers dominance also carried over to the defensive side where they forced Escambia County into seven turnovers. T.R. Miller held Escambia County quarterback Michael Thomas, who had 452 yards of total offense the first two weeks, to just 57.
Last week T.R. Miller had its third different leading rusher in as many weeks. Justin Gomez had top honors opening week at Clarke County, while Gomez and Keyara Matthews shared the top spot against Southside-Selma. Last week Jamal Middleton stepped up with 78 yards on just six attempts.