The Woodville Panthers’ bye week featured some rest, some fundamentals, some work on its next opponent and a little college football.
A number of Woodville players and coaches capped the week off by attending UAB’s win over Florida Atlantic at the new Protective Stadium in Birmingham.
“Finished the week of with a kind of a team-building trip,” said Woodville head coach Matt Sanders. “(The bye) was good for us. We had some guys that were banged up that we were able to get healthy and ready to go, and we got a jump start on Gaylesville.
Woodville (0-7, 0-4) returns to action this week when it hosts Gaylesville in a Class 1A Region 7 matchup Friday night at Frazier Field. Kickoff for the Panthers’ final home game of the season is set for 7 p.m.
“It’s the final home game for our three seniors, guys that are crucial to what we do and will be tough to replace,” Sanders said. “But it’s the last home game this season for everyone. The time is now. If you’re underclassman, don’t look at it that ‘I’ve got next year.’ Focus on now and treat it as such.”
Gaylesville is one of two teams that Woodville has played every season since starting its football program in 2006. Gaylesville leads the series 10-5, but Woodville has won the teams’ last five meetings.
Gaylesville (4-4, 2-3) enters the matchup after losing 27-10 at region-leader Cedar Bluff last week. The Trojans are averaging 27.6 points per game while allowing 28.3 per game.
Gaylesville features a run-oriented offense that has four players with more than 300 rushing yards this season. The Trojans’ rushing attack is led by Keylon Higgins (793 yards and nine touchdowns) and Michael Reynolds (538 yards and six touchdowns).
“They like to run the ball and the quarterback manages the game and does what they ask him to do,” Sanders said. “They’re very physical (on the offensive line).”
Sanders said Woodville had to be sound defensively in order to stop the Gaylesville offense.
“Offensively, you can have one or two guys not do what they’re supposed to do and it still be a positive play. But defensively, just one guy makes a mistake and it’s a touchdown (for the opponent). We’ve got to make sure we’re all doing what we’re supposed to do.”
Woodville posted its best offensive output of the season its last time out against Cedar Bluff, gaining nearly 300 total yards.
“Offensively I feel like we’ve found some things. We put up nearly 300 yards on the No. 1 team in the region,” Sanders said. “Our guys just continue to come to work to get better. Other than the Sumiton Christian game, I feel like we’ve gotten better every week. That’s the name of the game. If we were undefeated, that would still be the name of the game. I’m so proud of the kids for continuing to work to get better because a lot of kids would’ve folded it up already.”