Running game key as Tigers face Lions to start region play

COVINGTON -- Establishing a strong running game is going to be key as Alcovy begins its real season against Region 2-AAAAAA opponent Luella at 7:30 tonight at Homer Sharp Stadium, putting a 1-3 non-region start behind it.

"What we have to do is be able to run the football," Alcovy head coach Kirk Hoffman said. "The big thing for us is to go out and do what we do well and continue to do better. We've been very successful in throwing it but there's so much inconsistency, offensively. That's what we've got to start getting.

"Everybody's record is the same. If you were 4-0 or 0-4 in nonregion, everybody starts back fresh. So this game is important to anybody that plays."

The Tigers (1-3, 0-0) showed that they can move the ball successfully at times, gaining more than 300 yards and scoring 17 points in their season opener against Perry. But against Eastside, they only had one long drive as they marched the ball more than 60 yards on 10 plays. While quarterback Marcus Williams has had more than a few interceptions, many of them were not a result of poor decisions on his part.

"A couple of his interceptions haven't been his fault," Hoffman said. "You can't blame him for the fact that somebody tips the ball on the line of scrimmage or some balls have been dropped. What we have to do to make our passing game a little bit better is get some kind of running game going."

The Lions (0-4, 0-0) defense is ready, having forced seven fumbles and intercepted the ball twice so far this season.

For their part, the Tigers have to be ready to stop Luella's running game, which has improved every game so far. Luella started the season with 157 yards against Lowndes, then gaining 227 yards against Henry County last week.

"Luella has played some quality teams so far, with teams like Lowndes and Dutchtown and those type of teams," Hoffman said. "They've gotten better but I feel that we've gotten better. Defensively, what we're going to have to do is play disciplined."

Carrying the load for Luella is Trae Bonner, who has gained 277 yards on 33 touches and five touchdowns. Behind Bonner is Gabe Smith, who has 155 yards on 29 carries. While Luella quarterback Jared Hendricks is inconsistent, completing 38 percent of his passes and throwing six interceptions, Hoffman knows that they will throw while trying to establish the running game.

"They have a real good quarterback and a couple of nice running backs. We can't let those guys get the big plays on us," Hoffman said. "The coach (Nic Vasilchek) does a great job of trying to get the running game going and trying to make that an important part of his offense."