Game of the Week: Ellwood hosting Billingsley in game with playoff implications

Published 8:08 pm Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ellwood’s Michael Lewis, right, tries to get past an A.L. Johnson defender during a game earlier this season at Memorial Stadium. Ellwood will host Billingsley on Thursday in a crucial region game. -- Robert Hudson

Following their second straight loss of the season, the Ellwood Christian Academy Eagles are hoping a return home will put them back on track for their first Alabama High School Athletic Association playoff berth in school history.

The Eagles (3-3, 2-2 Class 1A-Region 3) will host the Billingsley Bears (3-3, 2-2 Class 1A-Region 3) Thursday at 7 p.m. in a crucial region matchup.

Despite falling 48-12 at No. 7 Maplesville last Friday, the Eagles still find themselves in the thick of the playoff race, with the winner of Thursday’s game significantly improving their chances of grabbing one of Region 3’s four playoff slots.

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Mike Stokes, head football coach of Ellwood, said Thursday’s game is crucial in not only determining the Eagles’ postseason chances, but also as a measuring stick for the team’s overall development.

“Right now, it has great significance. I think we need to win this one and probably one more to get into the playoffs,” Stokes said. “So, Thursday night, it’s going to be the start of seeing how far we’ve actually come.”

With just three region games remaining, the Eagles are entering the most important stretch on their schedule that will determine their postseason fate.

In order to keep their playoff hopes alive, Stokes said the Eagles will have to stop the run and play assignment football on Thursday night.

“We’re going to have to shut down their quarterback, and they have a big running back over there. We’re going to have to make sure we contain them and shut them down,” Stokes said. “[In practice] We’ve just been doing the same thing. We’ve still got players missing assignments and stuff like that. That’s what we’re trying to correct, and we’re still preaching discipline.”