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Trojans travel to Central-Clay in quarterfinals

Published 11:00pm Thursday, November 21, 2013

The roles are reversed for Charles Henderson and Central-Clay County this go around.

Last season, the Trojans welcomed in a highly ranked Volunteers team to Veterans Memorial Stadium, and pulled the upset. This time around the Trojans will be favored on the road in Lineville in a game that will send the winner to the AHSAA semifinals.

Charles Henderson head coach Mike Dean knows his team will be favored, but said his team will not play the game on paper.

“We don’t play games on paper,” said Dean. “We haven’t done it all season when we were heavily favored, so why start now? It will be a great football game between two really talented football teams. Friday will be a game both sides look back on in 10 years and say they were glad to be a part of it. We just hope ours is a more happy memory.”

Central-Clay (10-2) finished second in its region, and has lost just one game at home in the existence of the program. The Vols lost their regular season finale 14-7 to 3A top dog Madison Academy.

In the playoffs, Central-Clay slipped past Hillcrest of Evergreen 16-15 in the first round, before dusting off Bibb County 23-6 last week.

The Volunteers are a run-first football team, and have gained over 3,000 yards on the ground as a team. Conversely, they have garnered just 567 yards in the air. The stats don’t surprise Dean one bit.

“They believe in what they are doing,” Dean said. “They want to run the football. They run the football 87 percent of the time, and have thrown it only 14 times the last two games. They were down early in some games, but stayed committed to the run and sound defense. They are 10-2 and a really, really good football team.”

Central-Clay County was formed prior to the 2012-13 school year. The school is made up of the former Lineville High School and Clay County High School, from nearby Ashland. While the school may be new, both sides know how to win.

The schools played over 110 times throughout history, and numerous publications selected the Clay Bowl as the top high school sports rivalry in the South.

Clay County captured state titles at the 2A level on six different occasions under legendary former head coach Danny Horn. Lineville never won a state title, but did play for the blue map four different times.

Dean has nothing but respect for the program at Central-Clay.

“They now how to win, period,” said Dean. “They believe they can play with anybody, and they believe they can beat anybody. I respect everything about them. Those two communities are class acts, and that makes a class act program. They are winners, and they treat everyone else like champions.”

Being the quarterfinals of the playoffs, Dean expects the crowd to come out in full force for the hometown Vols.

“The atmosphere will be great to play a football game in,” Dean said. “Clay’s fans are some of the best around. They support their team at home and on the road, and know what good football looks like. We want to make memories, and this game will be one to be remembered for a long time.”

The Trojans and Vols have met just once previously, a 13-0 Charles Henderson win last season.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Lineville.

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