“They’re just good on both sides of the ball and special teams, all three: offense, defense and special teams,” Talladega head coach Robert Herring said. “They’re good at all of them. They’ve got athletes everywhere. They don’t have a weak spot on offense or defense. They’re just a great ball club; I think, probably the best team in the state. I think they’re ranked fourth, but I’d like to see the three teams that are better than them.”
The three teams ranked ahead of Homewood all carry impressive resumes. All three have 8-0 overall records. No. 1 Spanish Fort won the state championship last season; No. 2 Jackson won the state title the in 2011 ; and No. 3 Muscle Shoals finished the regular season last season No. 1.
Homewood ranks 11th among all teams in the state for points allowed with 8.5 points per game. The Patriots are 15th among all teams in the state for scoring average with 43.9 points per game.
Herring wants his team to focus first and foremost on doing the right things and worrying less about the opposition.
“Just getting better, that’s our thing,” Herring said about his team’s goal for this week. “I told these players from day one: we just want to get better week-by-week as the season goes on. As long as we do what we’re supposed to do, lock-man, break a run or two here, get a first down there, and just try to keep it decent. They average about 40 points a game. They’re doing it for a reason; they’re good. They throw it on you and they’ve got a running back that is about 6-2, 230 that runs on you.”
In addition to having a number of skill players, Homewood has plenty of size upfront.
“Their offensive line is 6-3, 6-4 all the way across,” Herring said. “They’ve got a lot of D-I prospects. They’ve got three d-lineman that are just go-getters. It’s going to be a tough game for us.”
Last week, Talladega (3-5) put up a good fight against rival Sylacauga, as the score was tied 7-7 at halftime, but the Aggies pulled away in the second half for a 35-7 win.
“We went in there at halftime and we felt real good about it,” Herring said. “We played sound defense, the offense got first downs and scored. We got down there and maybe should have kicked a field goal; we just thought, let’s go ahead and try to get this first down so they don’t get the ball back. They got it back and scored. We came out in the second half and we were just flat. They executed better than we did and that was the bottom line.”
Talladega will honor the senior members of their team on Friday for Senior Night .
“We want to let these seniors go off on a good note,” Herring said. “We’re not just going to lie down; we’re going to get out there and we’re going to fight as hard as we can fight for four quarters and just see how it works for us.”
Herring is proud of his seniors, a class small in size but not lacking in hard work.
“It’s been a good group,” Herring said. “We don’t have a lot of them, but they’ve been here, they’ve shown up. We haven’t had a one of them quit. That’s big here because they’ve laid the foundation for what we plan on doing for the next few years. We love these seniors that have come out here and practice every single day and have given everything they had. We know they will this week. Then, we get ready to go play our rival (Munford) next week.”
Talladega hosts No. 4 Homewood at Mary Dumas Stadium Friday at 7 p.m.