Shelbyville football has a final shot to make the playoffs and the road goes through Tuscola.
In the past, Shelbyville has had to go through Tuscola in the conference to try to make the playoffs. In 2014, the Rams got to the playoffs and had to play Tuscola in the first round. Tuscola won, 28-19. Shelbyville was headed in to score for the lead, but an interception and another Warrior TD intercepted the Rams run.
On Friday, Shelbyville must go to Tuscola, with a tradition of making the playoffs. Tuscola has made the playoffs every year for the last 25 years, including this year. Tuscola has two state titles and 4 runner-up finishes.
This year Tuscola is 5-2, 3-2 in the conference. They play Shelbyville Friday, then Meridian next week. Tuscola will be either got to the playoffs 6-3 or 7-2 depending on how well the Rams play Friday.
Of the big 3 teams this season in the conference, Tuscola is #3. Central A&M (7-0) is top dog followed by St. Teresa (6-1). A&M beat St. Teresa, 28-26, despite a late score by St. T. Prior to that A&M roughed up Tuscola on four pick 6s, 49-14. A&M had just 2 picks against Shelby one pick 6. Tuscola lost to St. T, 28-14.
Tuscola doesn’t want to lose tonight even though they will win next week and avoid backing into the playoffs. After losing to A&M and St. T on successive weeks and falling to 2-2, they beat Clinton (4-3), 41-6. They beat SOV (0-7), 56-13. Last week, they beat Warrensburg (3-4), 40-7.
They want to make it a 5-0 run to finish the season and they are playing in front of their home crowd om Friday.
However, Shelbyville (4-3,)has improved. Against Tuscola, we will see how much they have improved. Shelbyville lost to Clinton, but Clinton has not been the same since that win, offering little resistance to Tuscola.
Shelbyville’s opponents have 35 wins, Tuscola’s have 36 wins. Tuscola has scored 104 points more than their opponents. Shelbyville has scored 30 points less. That would make Tuscola a 3 touchdown favorite on paper, playing at home.
However, Shelbyille also beat SOV, 56-40, They allowed the Redskins to comeback after the Rams went up at the half, 42-13. Shelbyville beat Warrensburg just 28-20. That game may be the best indicator of Friday’s match-up with Tuscola. Tuscola beat W-L, 40-7.
Against Meridian last week, the Rams looked like the NBA stars in Space Jam after the locker room scene. They put pressure on the QB, they made tackles and blocked like they haven’t all season.
It was an out-of-body experience for the previously less-aggressive Rams. They need that same experience on Friday against Tuscola to open the possibility of picking off passes.
If they get it, they make the playoffs. They must play for 4 quarters. They can’t let up or the Warriors, at home, will have the motivation to tip the scales in a close game.
Ram quarterback Kentrell Beck (670 yds) must get into space and let his speed do the talking. Rope Hatfield (355 yds rushing) has to run determined like his reputation and catch the football downfield (401 yds). Josh Agin’s speed can help match the Warrior’s speed.
Shelbyvile receivers (1054 yds) must catch the ball and hang on when hit, because they will be hit. If the Ram line can give Beck time to throw, he’s accurate (47.8%), as long as he is aware of the Warrior’s quickness in the secondary and avoid picks. Beck has 718 yards passing and 4 TD’s, but 6 interceptions.
The Rams Achilles’ heel has been blocking and tackling. If the Rams do that, they have a shot according to Coach Bill Duckett.