By Fred Woods
Our Opelika Chiefs won their second play-off game 50 – 6 over the Alabama Warriors of Tuscaloosa at Bobcat Stadium last Saturday night. The win brings the Chief’s season record to 12 – 0 and sets up the American Conference championship game this Saturday night with the 11-1 Capital City Cobras of Tallahassee. The game will be at Beulah High School’s Bobcat Stadium; kick-off at 7 p.m. CDT.
This will be the last home game of the year for the Chiefs. If they win Saturday they will play the National Conference champions for the APDFL championship on June 25 in Atlanta. More about this next week.
Once more it was a team victory as both offense and defense generally played well in the win. Nothing much happened for the first four minutes of the game, then, all of a sudden it was 14 – 0 Chiefs, as our guys scored twice in 15 seconds. First, Kyle Caldwell hit Ralph Spry on a 65-yard TD pass and, on the Warriors first play after the kick-off, Ladarious Blackmon ran back an interception 25 yards for the second TD.
The Chiefs only scored once more in the half as they were plagued by penalties and uncharacteristic turnovers. Coach Hunter Price was more blunt: he said the Chiefs got complacent.
Coach Price said, “We thought we had a good second half Saturday night. We started the game strong and then complacency set in and we struggled through much of the half. We made some adjustments and came out strong in the second half. We like how everyone responded to the halftime changes.
“We have just got to learn how to finish and how to play a complete four-quarter game.”
The Warriors finally got on the board with 1:50 left in the third quarter. Lesson to Warriors: wait until after the game to do your trash talking.
Both Latrell Jenkins and TJ Griffin ran well with Jenkins picking up 146 yards on 17 carries for the game and Griffin ripping off TD runs of 40 and 32 yards in the third quarter. Jenkins was selected offensive MVP of the game for the Chiefs while defensive back David Ray was MVP for the defense. Ray, who hails from Phenix City, helped lead the defense with five tackles and two pass break-ups.
About this Saturday night’s game, Price said that it is the most important one of the season, because it is the next one and “if we don’t win this one, it’ll be our last one.” He went on to say, “It’s not the will to win that matters most because every team in the play-offs has that. It’s the will to prepare to do your job on every play that matters. If everyone [on the team] does the job they are asked to do, then we should be fine.” That’s the essence of Price’s coaching philosophy and that’s why his teams are usually successful.
Coach Price said the Cobras are a good team with several former Florida State players on the team. They have a good QB in Dion Graham, who leads the league with 240 passing yards per game. And they probably have the best defensive line and set of linebackers the Chiefs have faced this year.. It may be the Chiefs’ biggest challenge of the season.
If you are a football fan, I’ll see you at the game Saturday night.