Saints facing an unfamiliar foe in region opener

Published 8:29 pm Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Selma High School’s Darrius Hawkins (2) looks for room on a punt return during last week’s game against Southside High School. The Saints will host last year’s Class 4A state champion Jackson High School on Friday. -- Robert Hudson

The Selma High School Saints are preparing to open region play with a new opponent they’ll have to get familiar with for at least the next two seasons.

The Saints (1-0) will take on the Jackson High School Aggies (1-0) Friday at Memorial Stadium at 7 p.m. in the first meeting between the teams as members of Class 5A Region 3 and the first meeting between the school’s since 1991.

Saints head football coach Leroy Miles knows Selma has a tough challenge ahead in Jackson, which is coming off a 15-0 season that saw it win the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 4A State Championship.

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Miles said the start of the region slate is important because these are the games that separate the playoff teams from the one’s that’ll be sitting at home come the second week of November.

“It’s a very important game. It’s a region game and Jackson is one of the top teams in our region,” Miles said. “It’s important that we play well and try to have a chance to win the game because it’s a region game and these are the games that count.”

Miles said the Aggies are a very well-coached team that is very disciplined, and the Saints will have to focus on slowing down Jackson’s offense in particular.

“We’re just trying to put in a solid game plan to control the football and try to keep Jackson’s offense off the field,” Miles said. “They’ve got a very explosive offense and they move the ball well, so we’ve got to control the football and keep their offense off the field.”

In order to minimize the Aggies’ offensive possessions, Miles said the Saints are going to have to run the football and control the clock, something they did well in last week’s 36-0 win against rival Southside where they employed multiple backs on the way to 139 yards on the ground.

“That’s our plan is to try to establish a strong running game to be able to control the football and to be able to run the football to set up passing the football,” Miles said. “It’s going to be a challenge. Like I said, Jackson’s a very good football team that’s well coached, and what we’re trying to do is coach our kids up and put them in the best situation to have some success.”

Miles also highlighted the need to keep mistakes to a minimum, as Jackson’s already a good team that needs no help in taking out opponents.

“We’re going to have to minimize our mistakes,” Miles said. “In the last game I know we had somewhere around 45 to 50 yards in penalties. We’re not going to be able to do that [this game] and we can’t give them any kind of edge. We’ve just got to minimize our mistakes and see how it comes out.”

In order to be in a position to win Friday’s game, Miles said the Saints will have to do a good job of carrying out their assignments and play solid, fundamental football.

“We want to always improve on everybody doing their assignment, like 100 percent of the guys blocking,” Miles said. “We had some success on a lot of plays, but we might have had one guy not do what he’s supposed to do like heading towards the right guy, but wasn’t able to get him. So we’ve got to improve on carrying out our assignments and you’ve always got to improve on tackling and blocking and special teams. We just want to try to get the best personnel out there for the situation that’s going to give us an opportunity to have success.”