“I think it will be exciting,” Munford head coach Will Wagnon said. “It is an exciting, it is a unique atmosphere at JSU. It will be a big time environment and we will be excited about it.”
Last week, the Lions accomplished two of their goals with their 34-10 victory over Hokes Bluff. With the win, the Lions clinched a playoff berth and won the Class 4A Region 5 title.
“We clinched a playoff berth and with my calculations we actually won the region, because everybody has two losses in the region except for us, “Wagnon said. “ The ones with two losses we have the tiebreaker, because we beat them.”
For the Lions (6-1, 5-0), who ranked 11th in this week’s Alabama Sports Writers Association poll, this is the first time that they have won the region since 1992. Wagnon said his team was excited about accomplishing two of their goals, but they know that they have to continue to improve every day in order to accomplish their ultimate goal of winning a Class 4A state championship.
“It is big and we are excited about it, but as soon as that is over with we have to move on and look towards the next accomplishment,” Wagnon said. “We got to continue to get better. I have said it all along; we are worried about us more than we are worried about our opponent. If we can continue to get better and hopefully, to our potential then I think great things can happen.”
Last week, the fourth-year head coach felt like his team began to get complacent at practice. Wagnon and the Lions had tough practices this week to ensure that they stayed hungry.
“Last week, we didn’t have a great week of practice,” he said. “Sometimes when you get to a point where you need to be you get satisfied and I think we may have gotten a little satisfied last week. This week, we come out and tried to let them understand that you can’t be satisfied and come out here and go through the motions and expect to be great. Either you are getting better or you are getting worst. We worked on that this week. It is a short week and playing on Thursday night is tough deal, but we still put in a lot of work in to try to get better.”
The Warriors of Cherokee County (2-5, 1-4) enter tonight’s game looking to bounce back from a heartbreaking, 14-7 loss to Anniston. Wagnon believes that tonight’s game will be a tough one for his team.
“They are like everybody else in Region 5. Everybody is tough and there are no weeks off,” Wagnon said. “They have been up and down all year, but for the most part they have been real competitive and done a great job. They could actually have a better record than they do right now. It is going to be a tough ball game. Coach Curry does an excellent job, the kids play hard and it will be tough.”
For the third time this season, the Lions defense flirted with a shutout. Through seven games, Munford has held their opponents to 12 points per game.
“They continue to do a great job,” Wagnon said. “It was actually 34-3 when we took out most of our starters. We tried some younger guys some well needed experience. Hokes Bluff did a great job of going down and scoring the last drive. Our first defense has really played great this year. The field goal came off a turnover in our territory or we might not have given up anything. Hats off them they have done a great job and it is one of those things if you have a good defense like we have it doesn’t matter who you are playing you will have a good chance of winning.”
Offensively, the Lions got off to a slow start last week, but they were able to get things going in thanks to the play of Monteo Garrett.
The senior quarterback threw for 139 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 131 yards and a couple of scores. Wagnon said the Lions offense has been plagued by dropped passes. Last week, three of Garrett’s passes were dropped.
“We were starting to move on the first drive we were moving down the field and we had a couple of drops,” Wagnon said. “We haven’t caught the ball like we should have all year. The one game we did catch the ball like we are capable of is Alexandria and we saw we were real successful on offense. We got to limit mistakes and if we do that we will be fine. If we start having a lot of drops, fumbles and stuff like that kind of hurts us.”
Wagnon said having the receivers step up and make plays will be key if they are going to leave Jacksonville with a victory.
“Our receivers are going to have to catch the football,” Wagnon said.
“I think Cherokee County loads the box and they are going to try to stop the run. We are going to have to be successful throwing the football. We are going to have to protect the quarterback and we are going to have to protect the football.”