The 11th-ranked Munford Lions spent this week working to improve themselves after falling to Clay County Central in the season opener last Friday. Fifth-year head coach Will Wagnon hopes the improvements they made will pay off tonight against rival Cleburne County.

“We tried to get better with ourselves, not as much worry about our opponent,” Wagnon said. “All week we tried to execute better and get better on the things we do and quit worrying about our opponent, because we had a lot of mistakes the other night that we have to fix. We are trying to improve ourselves.”

The Lions (0-1) missed opportunities to put points on the board in last week’s game. Munford had the football inside the Vols’ 19-yard line twice and came up empty. Munford finally was able to get on the board in the fourth quarter, when Brett Haynie capped off an 89-yard drive with a 6-yard touchdown pass to CJ Chapman.

“We did some good things Friday night, but every time we seemed like we got something going, we made a mistake that caused us not to get any points out of it,”Wagnon said. “We were able to move the ball; we just didn’t have enough execution to score points. If we executed well the other night, I think we had a good shot to win offensively, but we didn’t. We are back to the drawing board, and we are trying to correct some little things. If we can do that, we will be OK.”

Defensively, the Lions were stingy as they only allowed the Volunteers’ offense to drive the football down the field once for a field goal. Clay Central’s lone touchdown of the game came on a short field off a Munford turnover.

“The defense played excellent,” Wagnon said. “The first drive they got a field goal on, and that happens a lot. Your defense has to get settled down and get in a rhythm. The second drive they scored a touchdown, but that was on a fumble off a turnover off the offense that gave them the ball inside the 30. There were a couple of plays here and there that we had a chance to get out of with nothing, but they eventually made a play for a touchdown run. Other than that, the defense played excellent. Sometimes the offense is going to play great and the defense is not going to play good. You have to work together. If you have a good defense, you will be in every game.” 

Wagnon was impressed by the play of middle linebacker Austin Stephens.

“He had an outstanding game,” Wagnon said. “He had 17 tackles. He is the leader of the defense, and lucky for us he is just a junior. He has done an outstanding job. If he continues to lead this defense, I think we will be great.”

Cleburne County opens its season tonight. The Tigers went 8-5 last season and went to the third round of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 4A playoffs.  Brady Padgett returns as Cleburne County’s quarterback. The senior threw for two touchdowns in the Tigers’ 35-2 victory over Woodland in their fall jamboree last week.

“We have played them every year since I have been here,” Wagnon said. “Coach (Michael) Shortt does an excellent job; he is one of the better football coaches in the area. That’s one thing you know when you play Cleburne County, you know are going to play a well-coached football team. The last two years it has come down to the wire to see who is going to win the game, and it is probably going to be the same this year. It is probably going to come down to the fourth quarter, and hopefully we can be on the same end that we have been on.”

Wagnon hopes the corrections that they made in all three aspects of the game will help them earn their first win of the season.

“Hopefully, offensively we have corrected some mistakes that we made,” Wagnon said. “Hopefully, we understand what we need to be doing that we are not doing. We better protect the football, we better not turn the ball over, because if we start turning the ball over, we are not going to win a lot of ball games anyway. Defensively, we have to create some turnovers and continue to play like we are playing. We have to continue to be aggressive and go after them. Special teams, I think we played pretty well. We missed a field goal, but it was a pretty long field goal on the hash, so it was a tough kick. I think on special teams, we have to continue to win that battle.”

Munford leads the series over Cleburne County, 18-17. The Lions won last season, 14-7.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. from Munford Stadium.

Contact LaVonte Young at