With the Woodville football team set to begin a four-game stretch of Class 1A Region 7 contests that will decide its playoff fate, head coach Jay Powell has seen what he’s wanted to see from his team.
“They’re focused,” Powell said. “They know we’ve got work to do to accomplish what we want to do. We’ve got to keep that focus for this week and the rest of the year.”
The Panthers begin that stretch Friday night at Frazier Field against Valley Head. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. It’s Homecoming for Woodville High School.
It’s the 14th all-time meeting between the schools. The teams have played every season since Woodville’s football program began in 2006. Valley Head leads the series 9-4, but Woodville has won the last four meetings.
Woodville (2-3, 1-1) is coming off a win over previously undefeated Appalachian on Sept. 21 before getting a bye last week.
Powell said the Panthers made the most of the off week.
“We practiced three days, starting working a little bit on Valley Head and working on fixing some things,” Powell said. “We got a little rest, too. We’re not 100 percent (healthy), but we’ve gotten healthy.”
Valley Head (4-1, 2-1) has been a surprise team in the region. The Tigers, who went 1-9 a year ago, are off to their best start since 2013. After defeating the Alabama School for the Deaf in Week 1, Valley Head lost a region game to No. 9-ranked Decatur Heritage in Week 2. The Tigers then surprised defending region champion Falkville 32-7 and followed that with a 52-16 region win over Gaylesville and a 42-21 non-region victory over Ider.
“They’re a really good football team,” Powell said. “They were a young team last year so I knew they’d be improved (this season). The win over Falkville kind of caught everyone’s attention.”
Quarterback Jordan Burt has been the Tigers’ main offensive weapon.
Burt ran for 272 yards and three touchdowns on just 12 carries in Valley Head’s 42-21 victory over Class 2A Ider last week. He found the end zone on touchdown runs of 1, 60 and 77 yards while also throwing touchdown passes of 53 yards to Ian Blair and 68 yards to Marlonn Trinidad.
“Defensively the key to keeping the quarterback under control,” Powell said. “He’s going to make some plays, but you’ve got to manage (how many) he does.”
One way Powell hopes to slow down Burt is for Woodville’s offense to help keep him off the field.
“We’ve got to sustain drives,” Powell said. “Obviously, we’ve got to score points. But we need to control the clock.”