Defense key for Alcovy vs. Tri-Cities

• Who: Tri-Cities Bulldogs (8-2) at Alcovy Tigers (6-4)

• When: 7:30 tonight

• Where: Homer Sharp Stadium

• Last week: Tri-Cities beat Mt. Zion, Jonesboro 35-14; Alcovy lost to Northgate 42-13

• Series: First meeting

COVINGTON -- Alcovy's first opponent in the Class AAAA football playoffs may be big and strong, the Tigers know what they have to do to win their first postseason game tonight at 7:30 at Homer Sharp Stadium.

"We'll have to execute," said Alcovy head coach Kirk Hoffman. "That's what it's going to come down to, how well do we execute on our blocking."

Of course, saying it and doing it are two different things as the Tigers (6-4) face a big and fast Tri-Cities (8-2) team that is averaging 34.2 points per game on offense and allowing 15.9 points.

While the Tigers are used to playing teams that are bigger, the Bulldogs may be one of the biggest teams Alcovy has faced all year. Tri-Cities has several lineman at 6-feet-5 to 6-feet-6 inches tall weighing in the neighborhood of 300 pounds.

"We played Dutchtown that has good size but this is probably going to be one of the biggest teams we'll see all year," Hoffman said. "If you look at us defensively with Ryan Adams and Curtiss Benton we have pretty good size but then we're fairly small up front."

As any team would, Tri-Cities uses that size to their advantage on offense as they like to line up in the I-formation and use their big blockers to create holes in the defense allowing their backs to find room. However, if Alcovy can find a way to slow down or stop their running then they have to worry about the Bulldogs using their athletic ability to get receivers in the open.

"They key is how well do we control the line of scrimmage on both sides. We have to find a way to slow their running game down. That's going to be our first priority," Hoffman said.

"We have to move a little bit and change our fronts defensively. We have to make sure we maintain our gaps and try not to get pushed around. The big thing for us defensively is to make sure we line up correctly and we give good effort to the ball."

The same way that Tri-Cities uses the big linemen to their advantage on offense, they do the same on defense. In order for the Tigers to put enough points on the board they are going to have to hold their blocks long enough to give Tre Sorrells and Devon Edwards enough time to hit the secondary. If they can establish a consistent running game, then Cornell White will be able to find Kenard Murray and the rest of the receivers to make it a little easier to run.

"We have to maintain blocks. We just can't hit and let them get off. If we can maintain blocks and create seams for Devon Edwards and Tre Sorrells we're going to be ok. When you get to this level in the playoffs everybody has pretty good speed," Hoffman said.

"Defensively they're very sound. They have those big kids in there and try to stop the run first. You're going to have a hard time outrunning them because they are very athletic."