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No. 8 RHS faces No. 1 Briarwood

By Staff
Kim West
Franklin County Times
This season Russellville has won against teams as weak as Brewer and West Point and as strong as J.O. Johnson and Florence, and the No. 8 Golden Tigers (10-1, 6-1) have won in a variety of ways – comebacks, blowouts, shutouts and shootouts.
One of Russellville's greatest strengths is its balance in all three phases of the game. If the offense isn't clicking, the defense can make up the difference. If the other team's offense manages to score three touchdowns, the Golden Tigers' offense is capable of scoring 40 points or more, which happened three times this season. And Russellville's special teams play has provided a spark all season, with just one notable letdown in the overtime loss to Decatur in Week 7.
The Golden Tigers will need all three phases working in full gear tonight as they take on No. 1 Briarwood, which has steamrolled through 2007 by averaging 38.5 points per game while allowing only 9.5.
Russellville is 6-0 in road games this season, but the Golden Tigers haven't fared well in Birmingham in recent years. Russellville's 19 seniors were eighth-graders on the Russellville Middle School squad when Briarwood beat the Golden Tigers in 2003 for the Class 5A state championship.
Briarwood (11-0, 7-0) has been seriously tested only once this season, when the Lions nearly lost in Week 5 (45-43) against Homewood, a team that beat Russellville in the state title game in 2002 and 2004.
"I don't think it matters to us whether we're on the road or at home," said Russellville coach Doug Goodwin. "Usually when two good teams play, the team with the fewest mistakes comes out on top."
The Golden Tigers match up well against Briarwood's size, but the Lions have several options on offense, including Auburn signee Barrett Trotter at quarterback, and playmakers on defense, especially defensive linemen Bo Walters and Daniel Forester.
"They have a really good quarterback and good receivers," Goodwin said. "They have a good defensive line and defense, and I haven't seen many weaknesses on that side of the ball. And they're a well-coached team."
Goodwin believes the Golden Tigers can beat Briarwood if they follow the game plan and avoid mistakes. Russellville was flagged 16 times for 184 yards in last Friday's 35-13 over E.B. Erwin.
"First, we need to play with good effort," Goodwin said. "We need to execute the game plan and not kill ourselves with penalties or turnovers. Last Friday we had bright spots, but we had way too many penalties."