“Defensively, we’ve played real well,” head coach Adam Fossett said. “The defensive coaching staff has done a great job of preparing the kids. First-year defensive coordinator Mike Watts has done an excellent job preparing the kids; he’s brought a good intensity level with him. He’s got the guys playing very disciplined football and playing pretty intense. Two shutouts to start the season off is a huge thing for us and it’s a good confidence builder. We really try not to focus on shutouts the week of preparation. The kids, they know what’s going on and what they’re accomplished. We don’t mention it very much during the week. A couple of times the guys have broken it down on shutouts. It’s good for us to have that confidence going into a game, especially a tough regional opponent like Handley. At the end of the night, we would love to have a shutout but if we have more points than they do when that final buzzer goes off, then we’ll all definitely be happy and enjoy being 3-0 and 2-0 in region play.”
Following the four-game losing streak last season, the Tigers recovered and finished the season on a four-game winning streak, going 6-4 in the regular season. Handley also finished the regular season with a 6-4 overall record. They earned the third seed in class 4A region 3 because of their head-to-head victory. Childersburg earned the fourth seed. Childersburg was eliminated in the first round of the AHSAA playoffs by Dora, while Handley was eliminated in the second round against Beauregard.
“Handley is a tradition-rich program,” Fossett said. “We haven’t had much luck in the past with them, so it’s a big ball game for us. It’s a big region ball game and they’re coming to our place. We’ll see what happens. We’ve had a good week of preparation. Today, we were crisp in our walk-through after school.”
Handley enters the game following a 35-14 home victory against region opponent Holtville. Their opener, played on the road, was a 56-28 loss to Beauregard.
“They’re a typical Handley football team,” Fossett said. “They’re very disciplined and very tough. Offensively, their lineman fire off the ball and block well. They’ve got a couple backs that can make things happen. Offensively, they’re pretty methodical and they’re going to get yardage and try and set up long drives and wear you down.”
Meanwhile, Childersburg had their first region win at Beulah last week 32-0. They opened the season with a 38-0 home win against Comer. While the defense has been a strong suit thus far, Fossett knows his quarterback Zach Lightsey will need to lead the offense in trying to pick up on the different blitz packages they will see from Handley.
“Defensively, they’re going to come at you and they’re going to give us some different looks and probably show us a couple of different blitzes that we’ve got to pick up in order to have success on the offensive side of the ball,” Fossett said.
Childersburg hosts Handley tonight with kickoff at 7 p.m.