“We don’t put to much into rankings,” Sylacauga head coach Matt Zedaker said Wednesday. ”We are extremely happy that Talladega is playing some good soccer. It is good to have another team in our county that is playing some good soccer. It represents our county well, so we are happy for them. I know coach (Ron) Pinson; we worked together and he was a good coach. I knew Coach (Rocky) White would come in and put his twist on it and make it even better.
“Talladega is a good team their record indicates it. They are ranked seventh in the state. We are going out the next two days and prepare for this game on Friday. Hopefully our preparation allows us to be successful on the field.”
Talladega is Sylacauga’s first legitimate region rivalry since Benjamin Russell moved up to 6A two years ago. Last season the Tigers played the Aggies really tough and Zedaker expects Friday night’s match to be a hard fought affair.
“When we lost Benjamin Russell out of this region that was pretty much our biggest rival,” Zedaker said. “We battled for the region title; it went back and forth quite often. Now since Talladega has emerged this is kind of is the new rivalry. We played Benjamin Russell last Saturday and it didn’t have that same feel knowing that they are 6A and we are 5A. There is not that much on the line.
“With Talladega and the way they improved last year so much; they gave us two really good games. We really had to dig deep and come through in both games at the end of the game to get the victory. I think that they are definitely excited to play this game.
“I know there has been a lot of talk between the kids and it’s a county rival. It doesn’t matter what you are playing Talladega in, you want to beat them at all times and I know those folks down there feel the same way about us. It is going to be a big game.”
The Aggies (7-7-2,1-0) have faced some tough competition this season.
“It has been a pretty good season,” senior Michael Pearce said. “It has been a struggle; we have a quality schedule. We got the wins that we should have won and we lost some games that we should have lost.”
Talladega (12-2-5,2-0) enters Friday’s match looking to keep their undefeated home record (5-0-1) intact.
“It is going to be a hard game,” Pearce said. “This is the best team that they had ever, so we are going to have to play our best.”
Last season the Aggies had a successful season as they went into the second round of the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s Class 5A playoffs. Senior Hunter Luker believes they can go deeper into the postseason this year.
“I believe that we can go farther this year,” Luker said.
Sylacauga has a 23-match winning streak against Talladega stretching back to 1999. Hamilton believes that the Aggies’ winning streak doesn’t mean anything when the game starts.
“No matter what, we are still going to have to step out on that field and play,” Hamilton said. “It is not about how many times that we beat the, because we are going to have to play 100 percent.”
This season the Tigers are aggressively attacking the goal as they are out-shooting their opponents this season. Talladega took 17 shots on goal against Tallassee on Tuesday. Tallassee took just three shots on goal.
Hamilton, who is a goalkeeper for the Aggies, has confidence that his teammates will prevent Talladega from getting a lot of shots on goal.
“Our defense we have four seniors and a back-up senior,” Hamilton said. “I am very confident in them. They have held it down all year. I haven’t given up that many goals. They have good strikers; they can shoot the ball really well, but I am confident in our defense to play well.”