COVINGTON - All season the Alcovy coaches have told their players that the next game on the schedule is the most important.
While true for all games, Friday's game against Mount Zion at Tara Stadium is especially important because it has major playoff implications for both teams.
At 4-2 in Region 4-AAAA, the Bulldogs are in third place, a half-game ahead of Alcovy, Griffin and Dutchtown, who are all at 3-2. The Tigers still have to play Griffin but Dutchtown holds the tie-breaker advantage.
"A lot of people wouldn't have thought we'd be in the hunt at this point. We really haven't talked about a playoff spot," Alcovy coach Kirk Hoffmann said. "The playoff spots probably won't get decided until the 10th week of the season. It's exciting to still be in the hunt, to be truthful.
"We're still at the stage where we talk about getting focused for the next game. For the most part, our kids have played focused and have gotten ready for the next game."
The Tigers will have to be focused if they want to stay in playoff contention.
Alcovy's defense, which has improved every week, cannot afford to let up against the speedy Mount Zion team. The Bulldogs like to establish the run behind Quartterio Morgan, but they like throwing the ball to Drexel Copeland if needed.
"They run the ball, but they beat Griffin, who's a good football team, with three passes," Hoffmann said. "They try to get the running game going, and, if not, they're not afraid to throw it."
If Alcovy hopes to limit Morgan and Copeland's impact, linebackers Matt Gunnels and Bryan Daniel, along with the secondary, will have to find a way to negate Mount Zion's speed.
"Our secondary is going to have to come up big for us. It's going to be a challenge, but I think the kids are up for that challenge," Hoffmann said.
The Tigers are going to have to continue relying on their much improved offensive line to protect Rod Tolen and open some running lanes for Malachi Outlaw. After running for 288 yards against Ola, Outlaw will be the focus of the Bulldog defense.
However, Hoffmann has confidence that his front line will do the job and keep the Alcovy offensive moving.
"We just have to be patient. I think that's what offense is all about. Be patient, be consistent and try to get a hat on as many people as you can and get a lane open for Malachi," he said.
SideBar: Alcovy at Mount zion
· When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
· Where: Tara Stadium
· Series: First meeting