Pell City’s second year head coach David Shores believes a game like that may be what his team needed going into the playoffs.
“It was a tough loss last week,” Shores said. “Coming off that win against Oxford, I think the kids were a little bit over confident. Winning four straight games with Gadsden and Oxford, we had our heads in the clouds type deal. We’ve been preaching to them this week to forget about last week and focus on this week. I don’t think we came into it mentally prepared as a team last Friday night.
It may have been a good thing for us, sort of a reality check. They played more physical than us and that hasn’t happened for a while. I think our kids came back this week refocused and with a winning attitude. They have been locked in all week and we have had a great week of preparation.”
Austin enters tonight’s game with momentum after defeating Hartselle last week, 34-27.
“They are a very good football team,” Shores said. “Three weeks ago, they were No.4 in the state at 7-0. We probably got the worst two-three draw in the state. They lost two games back-to-back to Florence and Bob Jones. That dropped them down to the three seed. We have our work cut out for us. They remind me a lot of us.
Their best player No. 24 is a senior. Our best skill player is a junior. He probably has a step on Ira (Burch), because he is a year older. The whole team is very similar, except that they are 8-2.”
Making plays defensively and not turning the ball over is vital if the Panthers are going to advance to the second round.
“We got to be better on defense this week,” Shores said. “We can’t give up big plays. We have to tackle 24 in space.
Offensively, we have to secure the football. Austin Martin needs to have a big night. He was a little banged up after the Oxford game last week, so he wasn’t as effective as he has been. He is getting healthy. If he has a big night we will all have a big night.”