No. 4 Red Bay hosts No. 1 Fyffe
Franklin County Times
RED BAY – No. 4 Red Bay is accustomed to playing in front of large crowds on Friday nights, but tonight will be different because the Tigers (13-0) are hosting top-ranked Fyffe in a semifinal showdown and a rematch of last season's second-round playoff game.
"This will probably be one of the biggest games we've ever had here," said Red Bay coach Dale Jeffreys, who has guided the Tigers to undefeated regular seasons three times in the past five years. "We've had 1,200 fans at home games this season, but when I talked to Fyffe's coach (Paul Benefield), he said they've had around 2,400."
There are several similarities between Red Bay and Fyffe. Both teams won their regions and have defeated Tanner, Piedmont and Sand Rock this season. Both use all three phases of the game to win and possess good team speed. But Fyffe also boasts a big offensive line that averages 232 pounds and includes 2A Lineman of the Year finalist Parker Whitten (6-3, 225) at guard.
"Fyffe is really talented, and they have great players at every spot in their offense – the Wing-T offense is a great high school offense if you can get all of the pieces together," Jeffreys said. "We've faced some big kids this season, but their offensive line is the most talented because they're big and physically strong, and they all run well. Fyffe can also throw it, and guys are wide open because of their running game, so they're hard to defend."
This season Fyffe has scored 62 points or more against Ider and Westminster Christian and 70 points twice. The Red Devils have averaged 51.2 points per game, while only allowing 13.2.
Fyffe has two 1,000-yard rushers, Taylor Thrash and Tyler Gore, plus fullback Kyle Greeson, who replaced injured senior Micahel Wooden and rushed for 131 yards and two touchdowns in Fyffe's opening round 70-37 win over Cleveland.
Thrash (1,219, 19 TDs) has been the Red Devils' most consistent back during the playoffs with 11 TDs and three 100-yard rushing games, while Gore leads the team in rushing with 1,375 yards, plus 17 TDs.
"What makes them go is their offensive line," Jeffreys said. "We just have to be instant in every read we have – if we have to be somewhere, we need to be there on the first step. We've got a fast team, but they're just as fast as we are."
Red Bay scored at least 40 points against Shoals Christian, Hackleburg, Cherokee, Addison and Pleasant Valley this year. The Tigers have averaged 34.9 points per game, while allowing just 14.4.
Their top offensive threats are receivers Pablo Makepeace and Joe McKinney and running back Josh Senkbeil, who leads the team with 28 touchdowns and 1,676 rushing yards.
Red Bay is all too familiar with Fyffe after losing 37-7 to the Red Devils in the second round of the playoffs last season.
Jeffreys said tonight's game will give the Tigers an opportunity to measure their progress from last year's 5-5 season to this year's 13-0 record.
"We've worked really hard to get it turned around to this point," Jeffreys said. "Last year I don't think we had enough confidence to play with them. We didn't play very well last year, and they had a lot to do with that. They were just a lot better than us last year, but we'll get to see tonight how far we've come since last year."
Red Bay must play mistake-free football to advance to their first Super Six appearance Dec. 7 at Birmingham's Legion Field.
"We can't have a lot of turnovers and penalties, and we have to have better field position in this game," Jeffreys said. "We had four or five turnovers last year, and Fyffe never had to go more than 60 yards to score. Our field position was horrendous, and started inside the 20 every time."