“John Carroll always plays Sylacauga real tough, whether we play them here or whether we play them at their place,” head coach Matt Griffith said. “That game always goes down to the wire. Whether one team is a lot better or not, it’s always been a hard-fought football game. The biggest thing we’ve tried to teach our kids this week is you’re going to have to play four quarters of football to beat this football team. Always get ready to play four quarters to beat somebody.”
Last year, the Aggies squeaked out a 31-30 win at Legion Stadium. This year, the Cavaliers are under the direction of new head coach Tim Sanders.
“They’ve got a brand new coaching staff,” Griffith said. “Tim Sanders was a long-time coach at Leeds High School, and then retired. He’s been at Birmingham-Southern for a little while, and then he coached over in Mississippi. Tim does a good job; he’s got a brand new staff over there. They put in a brand new system. They’re running Gus Malzahn’s offense for Auburn and running the 4-2-5 defense, same thing. He’s been around a long time; he does a good job, so we expect them to be well-coached.”
The last time Sylacauga hit the road, they fell in week two to Briarwood 26-15 before bouncing back at home last week against Ramsay.
“Ramsay was exactly what I thought they were going to be,” Griffith said. “They were well-coached. They were a lot better than they were last year. We jumped out with three quick scores, then kind of relaxed. In the second quarter, we put one in right before halftime that really helped the momentum. We came back in the second half and ran a kickoff back and that kind of took some ‘oomph’ out of them right there. Before then, it started to be a hard-fought ball game. I thought our kids played well. We’re still making too many mistakes to beat a real good football team. Those are things we’ve got to get corrected.”
Griffith felt the loss to Briarwood was sort of a wake-up call to his team to remember the importance of a good week of practice. He thought the team had a solid week of practice this week.
“The biggest thing about last week is it showed our kids that they can’t not have a good week of practice and win,” Griffith said. “We didn’t have a very good week of practice going into Briarwood. We had a good week against Ramsay and we’ve had a good week this week. It gives you an opportunity to win on Friday night and if you don’t practice well during the week, you’re not even giving yourself an opportunity.”
John Carroll is coming off a tough12-7 road loss to region opponent Talladega. The Cavaliers enter the game with a 1-2 overall record and 1-1 region record. They defeated Shelby County 33-27 in week two at home.
Coach Griffith thinks if his team limits their mistakes, they should have a good opportunity to come away with a win.
“The biggest thing is we want to tackle well, we want to eliminate some mistakes offensively and be sound in our kicking game,” he said. “If we’ll do those three things and hustle, we’ll be okay.”