Phoenix visit North Mur­ray with State Play­off berth on the line

Calhoun Times - - SPORTS WEDNESDAY - By Tyler Ser­ritt

This Fri­day, the Sono­rav­ille Phoenix will look to es­tab­lish its elu­sive, run-heavy of­fen­sive at­tack on the road against North Mur­ray and slow down the pro­fi­cient pass­ing game of the Moun­taineers in or­der to se­cure a fifth con­sec­u­tive Class AAA State Play­off berth.

The Phoenix (4-5, 1-3 Re­gion 6-AAA South) are look­ing to re­group and re­bound af­ter a dis­cour­ag­ing 41-3 de­feat at the hands of the Cal­houn Yel­low Jack­ets at The Reeve two weeks ago. Re­flect­ing back on the loss, Sono­rav­ille head coach Den­ver Pate said he knows his team has to show a higher level of phys­i­cal­ity on de­fense and be­come more op­por­tunis­tic on of­fense when pro­vided good field po­si­tion.

Sono­rav­ille is com­ing off of a bye week, which af­forded the team time to re­cu­per­ate and pre­pare for the next op­po­nent, which was re­vealed to be North Mur­ray (6-3, 4-0 Re­gion 6-AAA North) af­ter the Moun­taineers de­feated LFO 44-15 to se­cure the No. 1 seed in its sub­re­gion last Fri­day.

Ac­cord­ing to Pate, the Phoenix uti­lized the ex­tra prac­tice time to go back to ba­sics in or­der to be ready for what­ever op­po­nent emerged from that group as the top team.

“(We worked on) a lot of fun­da­men­tals at every po­si­tion,” Pate said. “It was good that we did not know who to pre­pare for so we just worked on im­prov­ing us so that we can be the best we can be come Fri­day night.”

Those fun­da­men­tals will come in handy against the North Mur­ray, who has played its best foot­ball of the sea­son the last cou­ple of weeks. The team has rat­tled off four con­sec­u­tive wins af­ter a 40-13 loss to Cal­houn back in late Septem­ber. The Moun­taineers boast a high-fly­ing aerial at­tack led by ju­nior quar­ter­back Pre­ston Poag Jr.

The key to a Sono­rav­ille win will most likely be the ef­fec­tive­ness of its smash­mouth rush­ing at­tack, which is spear-headed by quar­ter­back Pa­trick Moore and run­ning back Tris­tan Key. The duo found run­ning room dif­fi­cult to come by against the Jack­ets, but when they have the space to op­er­ate they are one of the most po­tent of­fen- sive pairs in the re­gion.

Pate ac­knowl­edged that win­ning that bat­tle against the Moun­taineers, along with creat­ing turnovers and pro­tect­ing the foot­ball, is cru­cial to snag­ging a vic­tory on Fri­day.

“We have to be more phys­i­cal than them at the point of at­tack,” Pate said. “Just as al­ways we can­not af­ford to turn the ball over and be suc­cess­ful, but in the same sense if they put one on the ground we must cap­i­tal­ize off of it.”

Prediction:

With a spot in the play­offs on the line, this game presents an in­ter­est­ing clash of of­fen­sive styles. This one should be close one through­out, but I think Sono­rav­ille con­trols the clock with its of­fense and comes up with a cou­ple key de­fen­sive stops down the stretch.

Sono­rav­ille wins, 31-28.

Score:

File-LARRY GREESON / For the Cal­houn Times

Sono­rav­ille’s Tris­tan Key (18) runs down­field dur­ing a game ear­lier this sea­son.

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