“We talk to our kids about it: the biggest thing is you’re playing for region standings right now,” head coach Matt Griffith said. “That’s the biggest thing. Chilton County has a loss to Homewood; we’ve got a loss to Briarwood. We’re fighting for a two, three or four spot. That’s where it gets critical. If you drop the game, it doesn’t knock you out of the playoffs but it makes it more difficult to get in that top three more than anything else. It’s important to both schools, no doubt.”
While Sylacauga and Chilton County have identical records, they are at much different moments in their season. Chilton County has won three straight games, two of which were regional games. Meanwhile, Sylacauga is coming off what might be considered a mild upset to county rival Childersburg 35-30. Sylacauga had won six straight against Childersburg prior to their loss last week.
“You have to move on when you have a tough loss,” Griffith said. “It’s an emotional loss to a rival. I can’t ever remember having a 30-14 lead with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter and finding a way to lose. That’s tough for the kids to get over, but the one thing we always tell them that makes us a little different is our whole season is not geared to be one thing. Our season is geared to be a winning season and make the playoffs. To do that, you’ve got to win region games. We had to put this one behind us and we’ve got to move on. We’ve got a big region opponent and it’s one we need to win to get in the playoffs.”
The Sylacauga coaching staff is hoping history will repeat itself.
“The last time we lost to Childersburg was in 2006,” Griffith said. “When we did lose to them, it woke that team up and the very next week we won a big region game that put us in the playoffs. We’re hoping this will bring the same reaction. The biggest thing we’ve got to do is we’ve got to learn to play four quarters. We’re jumping out on folks and we’re playing really good football. Then, we relax and we’re just kind of hanging on. We’ve got to quit doing that before we can beat a good football team.”
Sylacauga loss last year’s contest between the two teams 28-7 on the road. In the end, Griffith believes if his team can win the turnover battle in this year’s home game, they will have a good chance to pick up a win.
“I think both teams are evenly matched,” Griffith said. “I think they’ve got some strengths that we don’t have; we’ve got some strengths that they don’t. It’s going to come down to who doesn’t turn the ball over and who makes the least amount of mistakes is going to win the football game. That hasn’t changed since time itself. The team that makes less mistakes usually wins.”
Sylacauga hosts Chilton County at Legion Stadium tonight at 7 p.m.