A big challenge

Dewayne Garrett and the Tigers take on region foe Leeds on Thursday night.

Tucker Webb/The Daily Home

Childersburg is bracing for its toughest challenge in Class 4A, Region 3 with No. 4 Leeds set to visit Thursday night. Kickoff is set for 7.

The Green Wave (6-1, 4-0) have won four straight against the Tigers (3-3, 3-1). Leeds scored a 56-22 victory over Childersburg in 2016 and leads the all-time series 9-7.

Tigers head coach Jonathan Beverly said he’s happy his team has built some momentum in region play.

“I’m really proud of the effort we’ve been giving,” he said. “It’s one of those things where we know each game at this point matters, and that’s exciting to still be relevant in region play at this point of the year.

“Some teams are already out of it, some teams are fighting for position and some teams are fighting to get in. We’re pleased (with) where we are right now and we’re looking forward to, hopefully, getting another big win Thursday night.”

Beverly said he spoke to his players about the playoff implications in the week leading up to Childersburg’s 14-13 win over Handley on Friday.

“I laid the big picture out for our kids to understand what it was going to take to get into the playoffs,” he said. “They understood they had to win two out of four (remaining region games) to get in, three out of four to host (a playoff game) and four out of four would give us a chance to be region champs.

“So I gave them the big picture, then I narrowed it back down. I said, ‘Now that you see the big picture, let’s focus on them one at a time.’”

He added it was great to play the defending 4A state champions and earn a hard-fought win.

“They didn’t forget how to play football in Handley,” Beverly said. “They’re still a very good football team that’s lost a lot of close games ...

“But our kids, to give them all the credit in the world, we’re down 13-6 at the half. Then, we come out after halftime defensively and play lights out. Offensively, we had big plays early in the half and we were able to sustain drives to end the game … It’s really a signature win for us at this point in the year.”

Beverly said the main area where Leeds poses problems is with athleticism.

“They’re fast,” he said. “They’re one of the faster teams in our region. They’re one of the more athletic teams in our region. We’ve got to do a great job defensively to contain some of their explosive playmakers.

“Defensively, they’re extremely fast. They run to the football and they’re extremely aggressive. We’ve got to do our job offensively to try to neutralize their speed in order to sustain drives, keep the ball in our hands and out of their hands.”

Keys to Childersburg’s resurgence highlighted by Beverly include strong defensive play, excellence on special teams and continued improvement from the offensive line and skill position players. He added several players in the trenches have stood out in recent weeks.
“Kishon Reynolds, our center, has done a phenomenal job leading the charge up front for us,” Beverly said. “A guy that plays next to him at one of our guard spots, Christian Guerrero, does a great job as well. Defensively, (we received) another great week from J’Koby Brown, our middle linebacker, who has played phenomenally.

“Now, two guys who have not gotten a ton of credit but have played their tails off, Desmond Phillips and Andrew Chatman, our two defensive ends … I can’t say enough about them. They’ve played disciplined and have done what we’ve asked them to do.”

Beverly said if the game is close and Childersburg has a chance at a winning drive, he has all the confidence in the world in quarterback Jelan Kidd.

“When the ball’s in Jelan’s hands, I always feel good about it,” Beverly said. “He’s a winner. He’s a champion. He’s cool under pressure. So when the ball is in his hands, I’ve got no worries because I know he’s prepared to go make a play, and he’s got playmakers around him that are prepared to go make plays -- (wide receiver) Taikaree Kenebrew, Kylan Bennett at tailback and Isaiah Jones at receiver … I’ve got all the faith in the world in those guys.”