Long trip, Springville in store for Tigers
By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
One team demolished its opponent in the opening round of the playoffs, while the other was fortunate to survive.
At this stage of the season it does not matter how the T.R. Miller Tigers and Springville Tigers got to the second round of the Class 3A playoffs as long as they get there.
Only one though will advance to next week's quarterfinal round game. The answer to that scenario will be determined when T.R. Miller takes about a four-hour trip to the Birmingham-area school Friday. Game time is 7 p.m.
T.R. Miller (10-1) had surprisingly little trouble in the opening round, as it ambushed Midfield 49-12. The Tigers, who rackd up nearly 400 yards worth of offense, raced out to a 28-6 halftime lead en route to the win.
"We played extremely well, but this is the time of the year when you have to step it up. When it comes playoff time, it's all about survival. It doesn't matter how you do it or by how much as long as you win," T.R. Miller coach Jamie Riggs said.
Perhaps even more impressive about T.R. Miller's performance
against Midfield was it did so with three starters (running back/linebacker Michael Jones, wide receiver Jacob Salter and linebacker Samaritan Cunningham) saddled with injuries.
"You have to be able to win as a team and we had a lot of people step up with those players out. Tim Atcher did a nice job at running back and also played some on defense in Michael's spot. Wade McCall, Jason McCreary and Justin Marshall filed in nicely for Samaritan. In the secondary, Joe Turner and Skylar Fountain had to play a lot more than they usually do. Mikel Riggs and Antonio Gomez stepped in and did a good job at cornerback and safety," Riggs said.
Riggs said he expects Jones, Cunningham and Salter to be back in action this week.
"They're all better. I don't know how much we'll be able to use them this week, but we should have them available in some kind of capacity," Riggs said.
Springville (6-1 in Region 2 and 9-2 overall) is a familiar opponent to T.R. Miller. T.R. Miller downed Springville 31-21 in last year's 3A quarterfinal round.
"We both have quite a few players back who played in that game so we've got a good idea what they have. They've got some good speed although not as much as Midfield," Riggs said.
Springville got to the second round with a 28-26 win over Alabama Christian Friday. The Tigers had a 28-13 third quarter lead in that contest, but Alabama Christian scored a touchdown late in the third quarter and another touchdown with 35 seconds to go to pull within 28-26. Alabama Christian had a two-point run attempt fail that could have sent the game into overtime.
The Tigers had two big offensive plays in that game. One was a 53-yard pass from wide receiver Sammy Miller to Steven Watz in the second quarter. The other was a 95-yard touchdown run by Adam Buggs in the third quarter. Buggs' score gave the Tigers the 28-13 lead.
"They have usually been a big play kind of team on offense. Buggs, their fullback, showed the other night he can break a long one and he is also an effective receiver. We saw on film their tailback, Jeremy Williamson, had a 70-yard touchdown run against a good Lincoln team. Their quarterback, Stephen Yance, gave us a lot of trouble last year. Yance has pretty good size at about 6-2 or 6-3. He runs the option well and he is pretty accurate out of the shot gun. Miller is a very dangerous receiver," Riggs said.
Springville's defense has posted five shutouts this season, which included a string of four in a row against Holtville, Leeds, Munford and Lincoln.
"They really get after you. I was especially impressed with their game against Lincoln. They won that game 35-0 and Lincoln was 8-0 and leading their region headed into that game," Riggs said.
T.R. Miller has not had to experience much life on the road this season. Seven of the Tigers' first 11 games have been at home. Two of those four road trips were short journeys to W.S. Neal and Jay (Fla.).
"We haven't even had to dress for a road game since we went to Andalusia back in week five. We've made a lot of road trips in the past. We just haven't made them this year," Riggs said. "That part will be different, but I think our players enjoy a trip like this," Riggs said.