COVINGTON - Alcovy linebackers Bryan Daniel and Jakatei Ridley hope to cost Dutchtown a playoff berth just like the Bulldogs cost the Tigers one last season.
"There's no doubt that (Daniel is) our emotional leader and gets us in the right fronts and has done an outstanding job the last five (games)," Alcovy coach Kirk Hoffman said, "and he should be. He's been in the program for four years."
However, for the linebackers and the rest of the defense to render payback, they are going to have to stop a well-coached team with a good ground game and the ability to throw.
"They do a double-wing, which is mainly a running formation, and they do run a lot. They've got nice size up front and they run right at you," Hoffmann said. "There's not a whole lot of deception to it. We're going to have to play well defensively and not get sucked up stopping the run and let them throw over the top."
Seniors Aaron Pinkney and Kelvin Tanner are the cornerstones of the Bulldogs' running attack. Dutchtown rushed for a school record 506 yards against Lee County earlier this season.
While both teams have lethal running attacks, with Tre Sorrells, Rod Tolen and Devon Edwards carrying the ball for Alcovy, Alcovy kicker Kyle Vojtesak and Dutchtown kicker Ryan Key could also decide the game's outcome.
"These are probably the best two kickers in the region," Hoffmann said. "I think that special teams is going to play a big part in this also. If you look at it across the board, we're evenly matched.
"I'll tell you what, it's going to be a good game. We were even last year. They have a lot of kids back, we have a lot of kids back. I'll tell you this, they're a good football team. They're well-coached, got good size. We have to bring our A-game."
Despite being evenly matched on paper, Alcovy could have a slight edge with Sorrells and other key players back from illness and injury.
"(Sorrells' return) is really big, and we're starting to get a little healthy. Hopefully, we can continue to stay healthy and get better every week," Hoffmann said.
"We talk about this as the next game, so get ready. Last year if we had won this, we would've had a shot at the playoffs. The big thing that we have to go in ready to play because they are. They've had two weeks off to prepare for us. But the bottom is that we have to go in Friday night and play well."
Manny Fils can be reached at email@example.com.
SideBar: If you go
· Who: Alcovy Tigers (4-1, 2-1) at Dutchtown Bulldogs (4-0, 2-0)
· Where: Dutchtown High School, 149 Mitchell Road, Hampton
· When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
· Last week: Alcovy defeated Jonesboro 21-0; Dutchtown had a bye
· Series: Dutchtown leads 1-0
· Last season: Dutchtown won 13-10