Tigers look to prove they belong
RED BAY – As the Red Bay football team prepares for tonight's first-round playoff game at Sulligent, many fans in the northwest corner of the state question whether or not the Tigers should be there.
After completing the regular season with a 4-6 record – including a four-game losing streak to end the season – Red Bay found itself in a three-way tie with Cherokee and Clements for the final two playoff berths in Class 2A, Region 8.
The playoff spots were decided by a coin flip. Clements and Red Bay got in while Cherokee, with a 6-4 record, was sent home for the season.
Now the Tigers are eager to prove they belong.
"We're proud to be in (the playoffs) 10 years in a row," Red Bay coach Dale Jeffreys said.
The Tigers first test is against Region 7 champion Sulligent, which completed its season with an 8-2 record.
Jeffreys said the Sulligent offense is what concerns him the most.
"They have big receivers that are hard to defend," Jeffreys said. "They have a good quarterback. He is a lot like (Pat) White at West Virginia."
Leading the Sulligent offensive attack is Dominique Bonman, a 6-foot-3-inch wide out and quarterback Caleb Massey.
They helped lead Sulligent to an average of 38.3 points per game using a spread-based offense. The offense scored at least 40 points in eight different games this season.
The Tigers entered the seventh week of the season with a 4-0 record in region play. That week, they lost to Tanner, ending any hopes of a region title. Red Bay also lost running back Cody Armstrong, the strength of the offense, for the season.
The offense struggled the next few weeks as Red Bay lost to Clements and was shut out by Lexington.
Last week the offense got a spark from Chase Lindsey who rushed for 203 yards and a pair of touchdowns in an overtime loss to Colbert Heights.
"I thought we got better even though we didn't win," Jeffreys said. "I felt good about the effort and it was our best night offensively."
The Tigers will need all the offense they can muster, especially if they allow the Sulligent offense to find its rhythm.
Standing in the way of a strong offensive performance is a Sulligent defense that has held eight opponents to 21 points or less and is giving up an average of 15.4 points per game.