• 73°

Tigers seek strong finish against tough 6A opponent

The Greenville Tigers will be ending their 2016 season much like they began it—against a tough Class 6A opponent.

Thursday night’s faceoff pits the Tigers against the McAdory Yellow Jackets, a strong opponent even by Class 6A standards.

Then again, the Tigers are no stranger to stiff competition outside of their region (Beauregard, Wetumpka and now McAdory).

When asked if the scheduling decision was a deliberate one, Greenville head football coach Josh McLendon said that the answer was a bit more complicated than yes or no.

“We definitely want to play some good competition that we feel will make us better,” McLendon said.  “But also, after the season we had last year, it’s kind of tough to find opponents that wanted to play.  So there was a little catch-22 there.  It’s just difficult to find people to play out of the region, as we’re kind of in a location where there aren’t a lot of schools around us that we don’t already play.  The 6A and 7A schools are the ones closest to us, and the 3A and 4A schools don’t want to play us. 

“I think it will make us better playing these bigger and faster opponents, and it’ll show us what we have to do to get better. So it’s a little bit of both.”

The Yellow Jackets, now 6-3, have doubled the output of their opponents, outscoring teams 228-139 this season.

Even McAdory’s three losses were neck-and-neck affairs decided by a touchdown or less, except for their 10-point loss to the undefeated Hillcrest Tuscaloosa Patriots, the frontrunners of Class 6A’s Region 4.

McLendon said that Thursday would be as tough a fight as any they’ve faced this year, which is saying a great deal.

“They’re very fast on defense and very athletic on offense,” McLendon said. “They’ve got a kid who is committed to Auburn who plays quarterback and defensive back, so they’ve got good athletes on both sides of the ball.

“We played them a few years ago when they were Class 5A in the first round of the playoffs when Coach Blackmon was here.   They’ve just always reminded me of a team that isn’t overly big, but they’re real scrappy and they’re very fast.  They fly around and get to the ball on both sides, so they’re probably the most athletic team we’ve played all year.”

A speedy defense presents challenges to a Greenville offense that has often struggled to move the ball consistently this season, but the Tigers’ familiarity with spread offenses could give the Tigers’ defense an unexpected advantage.

“Going against a spread offense is not necessarily easier, but it helps our kids because they see it every day in practice and they’re kind of a little more familiar with it,” McLendon said.

“You can’t really replicate the speed of the game in practice, but as far as lining up and those types of things, I think it helps our kids to be more familiar with what to expect.  You just have to be ready to play on any given night.  You just have to come with it and have the right attitude and right mindset.”

The Tigers host the Yellow Jackets for senior night Thursday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.