No. 6 Munford hosts talented W.S. Neal tonight

Friday, 10 November 2017, 08:47:00 PM. The No. 6 Munford High School football team will open the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 4A playoffs tonight when the Lions welcome W.S. Neal to Munford

MUNFORD -- The No. 6 Munford High School football team will open the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 4A playoffs tonight when the Lions welcome W.S. Neal to Munford Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7.

This will be a rematch of Munford’s first-round game in 2015. The Lions won 20-0.

“First, I am really proud of our team and coaches for securing a No. 1 seed, winning the (4A, Region 3) championship and securing at least the first game being at home,” Munford head coach Bill Smith said. “The prize that we won is a very talented W.S. Neal team from Brewton. They are very battle tested, they had a very formidable schedule. Really for a quarter or half, they have played … everybody on their schedule tough. They are probably the most talented 5-5 team in the state.”

A year ago, the injury-plagued Lions fell in the first round to Bibb County 41-34. This season, Munford enters the postseason healthy and with a level of focus it didn’t have in 2016.

“We got tripped us last year because of injuries and a lack of focus,” Smith said. “Our seniors this year have done a phenomenal job of keeping us focused and grounded. I feel like in that regard, we will be fine.

“We are healthier. We will be without defensive end Ethan Leahey. He got injured against Cordova (last week). He is going to miss at least one week. We hope to have him back next week if we are fortunate enough to still be playing. We have been relatively injury free to be in our 11th week of the season, so we are very fortunate.”

Munford (9-1) increased its winning streak to nine games with a 43-20 win over Cordova. After giving up a touchdown in the first quarter, the Lions took control of the game. The Lions’ defense provided a spark by accounting for 16 points.

“We started a little slow. I was worried about our focus since we were playing in a game that had no bearing on playoff seeding, and it was against a team that is not a natural rival,” Smith said. “I don’t think we gave up an opening touchdown all year, and Cordova went about 10 plays and scored on us. They did a few things different than they showed on film, and we were caught like deer in headlights.

“Then we got a break … with a safety, then we fell into our groove and played well … Draven Campbell had a scoop-and-score. We got a safety, and it is hard to tell who got the safety because it was a bunch guys in the backfield.”

Zay Britt also had a 77-yard pick-six for the Lions.

W.S. Neal closed out the regular season with a 27-17 win over T.R. Miller. Smith said W.S. Neal can present his team several problems.

“(Head coach) Andro Williams has done a great job of really bringing his style of football, which is really old school,” Smith said. “They huddle every play on offense. They are physical, they are going to run the ball 90 percent of the time. They run the wing-T offense from back in the ’80s and ’90s, when I was playing high school ball. When I first started coaching, the state was probably 60 percent wing-T offense, and now 80 percent of the state runs some type of spread offense. … They have a halfback and wingback that are very explosive. The wingback … was the quarterback the last time we played them. (Jacoby Hawthorne) quarterbacked against us two years ago, and halfway the through this season, they moved him to wingback. They run jet sweeps to him. No. 6 (Marvin Maddox), their tailback, is really good.”

Smith said it will be vital to force the Eagles out of their comfort zone on offense if the Lions are going to advance to the second round.

“The keys to the game for us are eliminate the big play, because they have two explosive players, and we have to be physical up front on both sides of the ball,” Smith said. “The third key is third down. Because of their style of play, (there) is going to be a lot of third-down-and-2 or third-down-and-3. We have to win over half of those to have a chance to be successful. If they win over half of those, it is going to be a long night. Also, we have to make some plays on first down to maybe change their play selection. We have to make them do something that they aren’t comfortable with.” 

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