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Red Bay, RHS are title contenders

By Staff
Kim West
Franklin County Times
Top 10 reasons why Red Bay will win the Class 2A state title
10. Underrated. Red Bay went several weeks before even cracking the Top 10 poll this seaason, despite an undefeated record. Fyffe is the overwhelming 2A favorite this year, but the top-ranked Red Devils haven't played a team like the Tigers.
9. Team spirit. Team chemistry is hard to define, but Red Bay has it. The Tigers know how to hold each other accountable without being negative.
8. X-factor. Senior Pablo Makepeace can kick, catch, run and play defense. He has been the area's most consistent kicker, and gives Red Bay a reliable option in the red zone.
7. Special teams. The coverage team has shown an ability to block kicks and shut down an opposing team's return game. The Tigers also have a strong return game that helped them overcome a 15-point, fourth-quarter deficit against West Morgan.
6. Top rusher. Senior Josh Senkbeil has rushed for an area-leading 1,350 yards this season and 21 touchdowns, and he also returned a kickoff for a TD.
5. Quarterback toughness. Senior QB Anthony Horton has battled back from ACL injuries the past two years to lead the Tigers to their first undefeated season since 2003 and their seventh in school history.
4. Conditioning. Red Bay has 17 seniors and juniors who log most of the Tigers' playing time, and the starters seem to play even better in the second half, despite many of them playing both ways.
3. Stingy defense. Red Bay has held teams to less than 15 points per game this season while averaging more than 30 points on offense.
2. Coaching experience. Head coach Dale Jeffreys and his staff aren't afraid to draw plays in the dirt, if necessary, and they have the Tigers clicking on all cylinders after a convincing 35-7 win at 4A Wilson.
1. First time for everything. The 2007 Tigers are a talented, resilient bunch. If they can remain healthy, this will be the year Red Bay wins its first-ever state championship in football.
Top 10 reasons why Russellville will win the Class 5A state title
10. Underdog mentality. The Golden Tigers enter the playoffs with the No. 2 seed and a No. 9 ranking. It's possible teams will overlook them, which would be a mistake – just ask the Florence Falcons.
9. Fan support. Russellville's away game crowds sometimes outnumber the home team's, and the players enjoy first-class support.
8. X-factor. Senior Caleb Mitchell has 4.3 speed and is proven game-breaker on defense, specials teams and offense.
7. Extra points. Senior kicker Josh Montgomery is nearly automatic on PATs and is five kicks away from breaking Elliot Bishop's school record.
6. Bruising backfield. Russellville's backfield features Mike Abernathy, Kory Suggs, Scotty Freeman and Mario Romans, and all four of them can run over tacklers. Thanks to the Golden Tigers' much-improved run-blocking and power rushing game, first-and-goal for Russellville is a kiss of death for opposing defenses.
5. Quarterback toughness. Senior QB Cory Trapp hasn't posted flashy numbers this season, but he has played through a neck stinger the past two weeks and smoothly operates the Golden Tigers' complex offense.
4. Leadership. Russellville has 19 seniors that have rallied the team since its Week 7 loss to Decatur. The Golden Tigers have racked up 92 points in the past two weeks, while allowing only 27.
3. Defensive pressure. The Russellville defense is only allowing 14.3 points per game and has two shutouts this season. The Golden Tigers' defensive scheme has helped the front seven stuff the run this season, and linebackers Josh James, Torey Baird, Kevin Vincent and Kory Suggs are a constant presence in the opposing team's backfield.
2. Coaching experience. Russellville has a staff loaded with former h head coaches and experienced assistants who know how to prepare for the playoffs, especially head coach Doug Goodwin, who already owns a ring after leading Demopolis past Deshler in the 2004 4A title game.
1. It's time to pass the torch. The 2007 Golden Tigers are hungry for Russellville's first state title since 1968.