The Auburn High School Tigers and the Central of Phenix City Red Devils are very familiar with each other. Since 1984 the teams have played yearly and last season Central defeated Auburn in the regular season and in the playoffs. But Friday night’s matchup between the number #1 Red Devils and the #8 Tigers is a huge game in a season that has barely started.
The 53rd edition of the game will be held at Duck Samford Stadium in Auburn.
Central has been dominate, defeating a 7A top ten opponent in Bob Jones 33-7 and last week beating Fairfield 62-0. After defeating Carver of Montgomery 27-0 in the opening week, Auburn had the biggest win of Coach Adam Winegarden’s three year tenure when they defeated rival Opelika 17-13. With the top spot in the region at stake, the two teams are on a collision course.
“They must have the best team speed in the state,” Winegarden said. “They have the ability to score in every phase of the game. Central is a very well coached team and scheme wise they do some real good things.” If Auburn is to win the game, Winegarden says that his team must stay away from the mistakes in the kicking game and turning the ball over to a potent Red Devil offense.
With the skill of Central quarterback Peter Parrish and receiver Justyn Ross among others, the Tiger defense will need to be at its best. Defensive end Mohanoud Diabate played well against Opelika and defensive back Cally Chizik had two interceptions. “Our defense is not physically imposing, so we have to use technique and quickness to get the job done,” said Winegarden. “If we can do that, hopefully we can keep the game manageable until the fourth quarter.”
Quarterback Brooks Fuller who passed for 87 yards, a touchdown and an interception while rushing for 17 yards and a score against Opelika will lead the Tiger offense. One of the bigger question marks for Auburn is whether or not All-State running back Garrett Morris will be able to play after being slowed with some minor injuries.
Parrish is a dual threat for the Red Devils, throwing for 243 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 76 yards last week vs Fairfield. In addition to Ross, he also has receivers Anthony Miles and Tommy Vickers at his disposal. Running backs Jamaar Spivey and Amontae Spivey were a one-two punch last week, combing for 126 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
“We’ve tried to sell our guys on that this game is not just implications on Friday night or the region,” Central head coach Jamey DuBose said. “The biggest thing I’ve tried to tell them is that this game could come back to help the winner in the playoffs because it has the last couple of years.
“Our guys have had some success over Auburn, but we’ve tried to explain to them and tell them that every year is different. Auburn is a much improved from last year – not that they were a bad team, we played them in the quarterfinals last year.”
“The basic thing for us is that we’re really going to need to execute and take care of the football,” Winegarden said. “Central is ranked the No. 1 team in the state for a reason in the highest classification. We just have to control what we can control.”
“We know we’re playing an Auburn team that’s really hot and had a big win last week. So, we’ll find out who we are after Friday night,” said Dubose.
Both teams realize that this game is an early season barometer of where their team is right now. Region standings and playoff implications down the road are at stake.
Our starters have only gone a half and that’s been a big question that’s been asked around town, ‘Can you go four quarters?’” DuBose said. “We’re going to get an opportunity to find out Friday night.”