Ready for a fight

Devin Dates and the Fighting Tigers will look to increase their winning streak to three Friday against Falkville.

HOWELL’S COVE -- Talladega County Central’s football team will travel to take on Falkville in the first round of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 1A playoffs on Friday at 7 p.m.

This is the sixth season in a row the Fighting Tigers have made the playoffs. TC Central has struggled this fall, but the Fighting Tigers were able to win the games they needed to advance.

“It is always a blessing to make the playoffs,” TC Central head coach Chris Mahand said. “(AHSAA Executive Director) Steve Savarese really said something to put things into perspective last week.

“I thought we limped in, but we have been playing better the last couple of weeks. He said don’t look at it like that. ‘There are a lot of teams that wish they were in your position. It is a blessing no matter what your record is to be in the playoffs’.

“He put it in perspective for me. The way we have been playing football has picked us up a little bit over the last two weeks. Hopefully, we picked a good time of the year to start playing (good) football and, hopefully, we can continue.”

The Fighting Tigers closed out the regular season with back-to-back wins. TC Central defeated Victory Christian 20-12 to clinch a playoff berth. Last week, the Fighting Tigers cruised past Central Coosa 40-6 in their regular-season finale.

“I think it is finally starting to click what we need to do offensively and defensively,” Mahand said. “It is all up to the kids now. We can only call the plays, they have to go out there and execute them. Right now, they are executing plays better. Hopefully, we can continue that going into the playoffs.”  

Mahand said he been pleased with the play of quarterback JD Davis. The sophomore has stepped up his game and made several big plays for the Fighting Tigers during their current winning streak.

“He has been giving people a lot of trouble with his arm and legs,” Mahand said. “I know that they regret that he is just a sophomore, but he is going to be around for a while to help make plays for this team, and I am looking forward to being with him.”

For TC Central (4-6), the postseason brings a chance to hit reset after a disappointing regular season. Mahand has preached to his team this week that what happened in first 10 games of 2018 doesn’t matter now.

“That is something that I told them (Tuesday night) at practice,” Mahand said. “Everybody’s record is 0-0 right now, so it doesn’t matter if you were 10-0, 9-1 or 4-6. ... It all depends on what you do right now. Nobody is going to remember that you were 10-0 if you lose in the first round of the playoffs, but they will remember a team that went 4-6 and made it to the state championship.”

Falkville enters Friday’s matchup looking to remain undefeated. The Blue Devils (10-0) have been unstoppable on offense, averaging 52.3 points per game while allowing only 17.8.

Mahand said his team will have its work cut out Friday.

“We are going to have to play a solid game of football,” Mahand said. “They are not going to beat themselves; they are going to play solid football. If we play solid football, we will give ourselves a decent chance to win.”