Phoenix visit North Murray with State Playoff berth on the line
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.”
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.
Sonoraville’s Tristan Key (18) runs downfield during a game earlier this season.