That’s what athletics competition is all about and to hear Dooly County coach Jimmy Hughes tell it that’s the key to the success of the Turner County team that visits Friday for a first-round Class A state playoff duel.
“My first thought while watching video of some of their games and the thing that ultimately impressed me most about them is that they’re a bunch that plays very well together,” Hughes said earlier this week.
“You don’t see just one person standing out and leading the way. Instead, they get contributions from everybody as the ball is handled by a lot of guys on offense and on defense they understand what they’re trying to get done and do so as a unit. They’re definitely a good example of what teamwork is all about.”
That characteristic has led to a 6-4 record for the Rebels, who placed fourth in Region 2-A behind Wilcox, Irwin and Telfair counties and wound up with the No. 12 power ranking of 11.46 for the playoffs.
“They’ve been in games they’ve lost to some real good teams five or six of which probably are in the playoffs (the actual number is three) as coach (Erik) Soliday and his staff have done a great job of getting the most out of their kids,: Hughes said. “I know they’ll be well prepared.”
Operating primarily from shotgun spread formation from which they employ multiple sets in an effort to gain an edge by outflanking opponents, Hughes said the Rebels seem to prefer the run over the pass.
“Their offense is triggered by the coach’s son (Luke Soliday, a three-year starter) who does a great job (at the quarterback position). We’ve been very impressed with the way he can run and throw. He’s a tough kid and if we’re going to be successful against them, we have to contain him.”
Unable to provide names of the Turner players, Hughes said the Ashburn team has several good receivers in numbers 2, 4 and 5 and a linebacker, No. 44, who’s always around the ball while making tackles or carrying the pigskin as a running back.
Dwelling further on the Rebels’ defense, Hughes said their base 3-3 allows the opportunity to “do a lot of different stuff” while mixing things between odd and even fronts.
“They look strong against the run and their defensive backs do a heck of a job of breaking on the ball on pass plays. They’re just a well-rounded team that with its use of multiple offensive sets reminds me a lot of Schley County although their players are lot better than Schley’s.
“Defensively, they’re much like Marion County (which handed the Region 2-A Bobcats their lone loss in league play) in that they run to the ball extremely well and blitz a good bit to put on the pressure.
“All year long, they’ve played in a strong region which means they’re used to being put to the test and most of the time they’ve passed. We don’t expect them to do anything but come up here and give us all we want.”
The topic of conversation shifting to the Dooly squad that posted an 8-2 regular season record that earned it the Region 4-A runner-up slot and a No. 5 power ranking of 13.32, Hughes said last week’s open date couldn’t have come at a better time.
“With all the sickness and flu viruses we were battling, we’d have been in big trouble had we been called upon to play a game last Friday. We still aren’t completely healthy, but I think we’ll be ready for the challenge ahead.
“As far as keys to our chance of winning, we need to keep the ball for an extended period of time since Turner’s offense is so dangerous plus we need to avoid turnovers and penalties and at least play even with them on special teams.
“Coming down the stretch, we did well in those areas. Hopefully, that will continue to be the case as the guys are excited about our school getting to host a playoff game for the first time since a 2007 win over Pacelli.
“At the same time, they’ve done a good job of taking a workman-like approach and going about their business while preparing for their third straight postseason appearance.
“They’ll be emotionally charged, I’m sure, as I don’t see anything different in them than I did all year long. Hopefully, we’ll have a big crowd come in and support the kids.
“While the playoffs bring excitement, they also represent an ultimate finality in that if you lose you’re going home which is something none of us here are ready to do.”
NOTES: Dooly and Turner haven’t faced each other on the gridiron since 2009 when the Bobcats posted a 28-6 victory that evened the series record between the schools at 8-8. ... The teams have met just one mutual foe – Wilcox, which beat Dooly 28-14 and downed Turner 38-0. ... Turner outscored its regular season foes 254-188 while Dooly had a 262-126 edge over its opponents.
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