“I know they’ve struggled this year, but they’ve got a good coaching staff,” Griffith said. “They’ve got a couple of players that worry us a little bit. The quarterback is real good, the running back is good, but they’re a little young so they’ve struggled. The biggest thing we can do is we’ve got to play well and keep getting better as the week goes on.”
Griffith wants to see his team clean up mistakes and play to high personal standards, even if their playoff seed has already been determined.
“The biggest thing we want is we want them to play four quarters, we want to eliminate mistakes, we don’t want to turn the ball over, and just dumb penalties—jumping offside or flinching or just having those mental lapses,” he said. “We don’t want to do that Friday night.”
The Aggies are coming off a 35-7 road win against rival Talladega. At halftime, it appeared as though it would be a tightly contested game with both teams tied 7-7. However, Sylacauga (5-3) was able to gain all of the game’s momentum in the third quarter for a sound victory.
“We went in at halftime and just told our kids ‘Relax, keep doing what you’re doing, play four quarters,’ and I was real pleased with how we came out and played offensively and defensively in the second half,” Griffith said. “That’s the biggest thing: we’re trying to get better each week and that’s about all you can control. You can’t control what another team does, or what another staff does. We’re just trying to get better every week.”
The Aggies locked up their third playoff berth in the last four years and second straight. Sylacauga will either play Valley or No. 5 Benjamin Russell. Valley (5-3, 5-1) hosts Marbury (1-7) Friday, while Benjamin Russell (7-1, 6-0) hosts Eufaula (6-2, 5-1). If Benjamin Russell wins, Sylacauga would play at Valley. However, if Eufaula were to upset Benjamin Russell, the Aggies would travel to Alexander City to play the Wildcats.
“This group of kids: this is the third time since they’ve been in ninth grade that we’ve gone to the playoffs,” Griffith said. “We’ve been three times in four years. It’s the first time back-to-back since the late ‘90s. This group of seniors has accomplished a lot and it’s their work ethic. We’ve probably been more talented in some years past at certain skill positions, but it’s like I told the kids after we did our script run-through: they probably play together as a team as good as any team I’ve had. They realize that they’ve got to work and they’ve got to come to practice to be able to beat quality football teams.”
Griffith said his team has shown a lot of spirit this week in practice.
“It’s been a good week,” he said.
“Our kids have really popped around. I’m pleased at how well we practiced this week. The biggest thing is we’re going to see if it carries over to the field on Friday night.”
Sylacauga hosts Shelby County at Legion Stadium tonight at 7 p.m.