Fresh off back-to-back rivalry games, Sylacauga High School’s football team will shift its focus to Valley in Class 5A, Region 4 action at Legion Stadium on Friday night. Kickoff is set for 7.
The Aggies bested Childersburg 38-14 in a homecoming showdown in Week 5, then thwarted Talladega 35-14 at Mary Dumas Stadium last Friday.
Sylacauga head coach Matt Griffith said he told his team after the Childersburg game to be ready for the stretch of four consecutive region games.
“(Now), it’s back-to-back-to-back region games, and they’re all important,” Griffith said. “The first step was Talladega as a region game, and now the next step is Valley. They’re all important all the way down. If you’re going to go to the playoffs and if you’re going to jockey for a home-field advantage, you’ve got to keep winning region games.”
Valley leads Sylacauga 10-2 in the all-time series, but the teams have only met twice this decade. The Aggies (5-1, 2-1) defeated the Rams in both contests -- 27-18 in the first round of the 2013 playoffs and 40-7 in 2016.
Griffith said playing back-to-back rivalry games prior to the battle with Valley makes it challenging going into Friday.
“We’ve had to get the kids up for back-to-back county rivalries, and our kids really don’t know a lot about Valley,” he said. “They’re way far away. We played them last year, and then about three years ago, we played them in the playoffs. That’s about all we remember of them, but the biggest thing is to stay focused, realize what’s at stake and just take it one game at a time.
“It really doesn’t matter who you’re playing. It’s just approaching the game the same way, on an even-keel, keep your emotions not too high and not too low, and have a business-like approach to it.”
He added his offense continues to grow even at this stage of the season.
“We’ve been really pleased with both running backs in Dacarius Mickey and Tashun Looney,” Griffith said. “They’ve both done a really good job. (Our quarterback), Keaton (Wilson), does a great job of being a dual threat at any time, both running and throwing. We feel that we still haven’t reached our potential offensively. We think we can continue to get better and we’ve got to continue to do those things.
“Valley poses some problems. They’re probably one of the bigger teams that we’re going to face. They’re really big up front (with) big linebackers. We’re just going to have to really use our quickness and speed, and maybe get outside of them a little bit more than what we’re used to. The offense has to come ready to play, there’s no doubt about that, and our defense has always kind of fed off it.”
Griffith said the defense has shown improvement since the Aggies’ 61-35 loss to Beauregard in Week 3.
“I think the bye week (Week 4) helped us more than anything, getting two weeks to get some things (fixed), go back and work sound fundamentals, and to work your tackling stations every day,” he said. “It’s a young bunch, and maybe we took a little bit for granted going into Beauregard, that the kids would have muscle memory and just be able to do it without working (on it) every single day. Now we’re playing a lot better, our tackling is better, and they will, hopefully, continue to get better as they grow up.”