Game of the Week: West Jones at Hattiesburg
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) -The route to the playoffs through region 3-5A is a tough one.
It’s a region packed with pure talent, seasoned coaches and competitive players who understand the challenge of their region week in and week out.
“In our old region, four wins probably gets you in the playoff and this year, four division wins may not get you in,” Hattiesburg head coach Tony Vance said. “I think that just speaks to the talent and the depth of the coaches and the teams in our region.”
“Basically right now you’re in playoff mode. If you don’t win, it puts you in dire straits,” West Jones head coach Scott Pierson said. “Basically, what can we do week to week to get better to prepare for a better opponent, which they’re only going to get better from here on out.”
Since dropping their first four games, Hattiesburg has come roaring back only losing one game in region play. West Jones hasn’t lost since August. However, both sides know that in a region of this caliber it’s important to have short-term memory, win or lose, because every game has playoff implications.
“We understand that every team we play in region is going to be a threat to us, so our guys have accepted that,” Vance said.
“0-0. You know that’s how we’re looking at it,” West Jones running back and defensive back Antwoine Gavin said. “0-0 for the rest of the season.”
The Tigers and Mustangs are armed with weapons on offense but both sides know how much credit they owe their defense.
“They’ve been playing pretty good all season,” Hattiesburg quarterback Tavares Wade said. “They’ve been giving us a chance to stay in the game and we just come back in and we fight.”
“Keep making turnovers and giving us the ball on offense. That’s what you need your defense to do,” Gavin said.
That West Jones defense forced three turnovers in the first half of their game against Laurel last week. Meanwhile, the Tigers have held region opponents to an average of 17 points a game, so both coaches know the problems the other’s defense can create.
“I think the biggest thing for them on defense is consistency. They’ve been really consistent with what they do with their scheme. Those guys are really physical, and they play really fast,” Vance said.
“Probably the most aggressive team we’ve seen on film as far as getting to the football. In weeks past, we might catch a ball or get a break and be able to take it to the house. I don’t think that’s going to happen this week,” Pierson said.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Hattiesburg High School.
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