No excuses

Darrell Maple and the Fighting Tigers haven’t defeated Wadley since 2009.

Tucker Webb/The Daily Home

Being out of school for two days couldn’t have come at worse time for Talladega County Central High School’s football team.

With a short week of preparation, the Fighting Tigers will travel to take on Wadley on Friday night at 7. Classes at TC Central were canceled Monday and Tuesday due to the possibility of inclement weather.  

TC Central head coach Chris Mahand said even though the Fighting Tigers will be limited to two days of preparation, they will be ready when they step on the field Friday.

"With the storm and us missing Monday and Tuesday of school and practice, that definitely hurt, but like I told the kids at the end of practice, we can’t use that as an excuse,” Mahand said. “They are still going to know the way to line up, they are still going to know what Wadley is doing and we still know what we have to do offensively to score. ...

“We are not going to go in there with the mindset of if something negative happens to us at that period of time … that it happened because we are in Wadley or we missed two days of practice. We just have to stand up and be men and play football on Friday night.”

TC Central (1-1, 1-0 Class 1A, Region 4) defeated Ragland 27-13 last week. Senior running back Kylen Cross scored three touchdowns to lead the Fighting Tigers. Mahand said defeating Ragland put his team in position to make the playoffs for the fifth straight season.

But just making the playoffs is not good enough for TC Central’s football boss.

“Like I was telling the kids, I want to do something else besides make the playoffs,” he said. “It has been a while since we have played at home in the playoffs (2008). I would like for us to have the opportunity to play in front of our fans for a playoff game. I would also like to make it out of the first round if we get the opportunity to go; we haven’t done that in years.

“Just to make the playoffs again is not a goal for us anymore; we have been there and done that. It is time for us to go past that level, it time for us to go to the third (round) and on if possible.”

A win on Friday night will help the Fighting Tigers get a step closer to accomplishing their goal of hosting a playoff game. If the Fighting Tiger defeat Wadley, they would have defeated the top two seeds in the region from last season.

“Any region game that we play is going to be very important, but this one has some special significance,” Mahand said. “We haven’t beat Wadley in a few years, and that is the biggest thing we want to accomplish. If we can pull this one out in Wadley, it will put us in outstanding position to win the region.

“We still have some good teams to play in our region. Like I was tell the coaches, I think the South is extremely strong as far as football is concerned, but I don’t think that there is a more balanced region in the South like ours. Other regions are very top heavy, but I think our region is pretty much balanced with the quality of teams in it. Even if we take this one on Friday night, it will put us in a pretty good position to win the region, but we still have some good teams to play.”

Wadley will enter Friday’s game looking to increase its winning streak to three games. The Bulldogs crushed Appalachian 62-0 last week. Running back Cody Nunn rushed for 127 yards and four touchdowns on seven carries. Quarterback Connor Fordham went 7-for-8 passing with two touchdowns.

Mahand said this game will be a measuring stick to let him know how his team will be able to compete in 1A throughout the state.

“This is definitely one of the strongest teams in the state of Alabama,” Mahand said. “They are a very gritty team, they are skilled, they play hard and they run fast. They have one of the best players in the state in No. 10 (Taquavian Drake), the coach’s son is the quarterback (Fordham). They have athletes: No. 22 (Jamicheal Angel), No. 2 (Jonathan Poole), No. 7 (Cody Nunn) and No. 3 (Kerrion Birdsong).

“We are definitely going to have to play some football; this is one of the more solid teams in the state of Alabama. Defensively, they fly to ball, they gang tackle. They are one of the better teams in the state of Alabama that we are going to see early in the season or the third or fourth round of the playoffs.”