Valley Preps

Central Red Devils ready for another big rivalry game against Opelika

Central High running back Jaxton Carson rushes against Auburn High at Garrett-Harrison Stadium in a game earlier this month.
Central High running back Jaxton Carson rushes against Auburn High at Garrett-Harrison Stadium in a game earlier this month. rtrimarchi@ledger-enquirer.com

One big rival after another is how the schedule fell for Central this season.

The Red Devils, No. 4 in Class 7A, manhandled Smiths Station 51-14 last week in the Backyard Brawl. Now, they face another rival in Opelika — ranked No. 4 in 6A — on Friday night. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium.

Central coach Jamey DuBose said forgetting about last week is part of the process.

“It is part of our process,” he said. “You have 24 hours to enjoy it, talk about it, but then it is time to put it in the rearview mirror.

We are now five or six games into the season, and the guys are into the routine. If we were coming off a big Week 1 win, then I might be concerned. But this a pretty mature bunch. They follow the routine and they know how to handle it. So I don’t think there will be any aftereffects.”

Getting his players to focus this week is made easier by the fact that Opelika handed Central a 27-21 loss last season.

“I think our guys want to get some revenge for last year when they got us,” DuBose said. “But this is a game with two very good football teams. … Against Opelika, it is always great games.”

Opelika has started with an impressive stretch of five wins. The Bulldogs are averaging 38.8 points per game. They are giving up just 7 per contest, thanks to three shutouts.

“I see a fast, physical and well-coached team,” DuBose said of Opelika. “Their offensive line is very good. They are physical, stick to their blocks and move their feet well. It is easy to see why they are successful. I see a mirror image of our team.

“This game will come down to which players make plays and which coaches make the right calls.”

Central has rebounded nicely from a Week 1 loss to Hoover. The Red Devils have rolled off wins of 36-0 over Fairfield, 42-14 over Auburn before the win over Smiths Station.

“The younger kids are beginning to understand the process and the game plan. That is giving us some depth,” DuBose said. “The concern when we get to this time of year is losing a key player and how we handle that. We have gone through that the past couple of years, and I think the players have doubted. When you lose a player, it can change their mentality.”

Kevin Price: 706-320-4493, @lesports

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