Johnson: Area teams have chance to upset

Published 9:45 pm Thursday, November 10, 2011

One of the most exciting aspects of sports for the fan is the upset.

Of all sports football, is most likely, the toughest to earn an upset.

A team with more speed, size, or athleticism has, by far and away, a great advantage over its opponent.

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In baseball, a dominant pitcher can self-implode in many ways and lose a game. A great shooting basketball team can go ice cold and fall to an inferior team.

Football, for whatever reason, is just different.

Heading into tonight’s second round of football playoffs, both area teams still alive are considered underdogs.

Charles Henderson (6-5) takes on a 10-1 St. Paul’s team and Goshen (7-4) will tangle with 10-1 Flomaton.

One advantage both teams will have is home field advantage. But what other advantages will the Trojans and Eagles need in order to pull the upset?

There are three things CHHS and GHS MUST do, in my opinion, in order to defeat their superior opponents.

First, run the football. Fortunately for both Charles Henderson and Goshen, they have great running backs. Both can make plays at any point in the contest and both can carry the ball 20-plus times a game.

Charles Henderson’s Courtney Downing is a smaller sized back so he more than likely won’t carry the ball that many times against a physical Saints defense but with a capable backup in Stanley Crawford waiting on the sidelines the Trojans have a one-two punch that can wear down most any team’s defense.

Obviously, an offensive line will play a great factor in the success of a team’s running game but the Trojans have athletes toting the rock that can shift momentum in Charles Henderson’s favor.

Last week, Downing rushed for 106 yards and Crawford for 107. With two capable runners, St. Paul’s can’t take a break defensively. When one guy runs off the field, another just as dangerous runner takes the field.

A “sub-key” to an upset in this category will be staying out long yardage situations. Even the greatest running backs are ineffective if the offense is consistently looking at second down and 15.

Goshen has a weapon in their backfield as well. Reginald Foster has rushed for over 1,000 yards two consecutive years.

Against G.W. Long, Foster proved to every bit the workhorse he was needed to be, rushing 17 times for 224 yards and four touchdowns.

While the Eagles don’t really have that number two guy to turn to, Foster has the build and the ability to handle over 20 carries against a tough, physical Flomaton defense.

The second task the Trojans and Eagles must accomplish is winning the turnover battle.

Anytime you win this phase of a football game, you have a good shot a winning.

Charles Henderson forced three Demopolis turnovers, one being the most crucial coming in overtime, and gave away only one.

Goshen protected the ball as well against Long and have, actually done a good job holding on to the football all season.

The Trojans have seen time after time this season what turnovers can do.

Up by one point in the fourth quarter, Charles Henderson recovered a Eufaula fumble deep in Tiger territory. This was a golden opportunity for the Trojans to put the game away. Instead, CHHS returned the favor and fumbled it back to Eufaula who corralled the ball and carried it to the endzone and carried the momentum to a victory.

Possession of the football is vital for an underdog and neither of these teams can afford to waste their offensive chances by handing their opponent the football.

Neither Charles Henderson nor Goshen has an overly strong passing attack. Both teams will need their quarterbacks to contribute in some way to help spread out the defense but a quarterback in the Trojans or Eagles system can NOT turn the ball over.

6-for-8, even 5-for-10 will be enough to keep St. Paul’s and Flomaton honest.

Lastly, control the clock.

Simply put, St. Paul’s and Flomaton can’t score wads of points if they don’t have the football.

Here’s where Charles Henderson and Goshen differ. The Trojans, I believe have a defense that can play with nearly anyone in the state. Although they are young in places, they are quick and athletic.

Goshen has a “bend but don’t break too often” type defense. They do just enough to keep the team in the game. They Eagles defensive unit can create turnovers, especially in the secondary, which is partially why they have been successful this season.

Last week against Demopolis, the Trojans ran 72 plays in comparison to the Tigers 35.

Demopolis probably could have scored more that 14 points, but not in 35 plays.

All three of these keys tie together to equal a winning formula for any team to win a football game but against a stronger team they become critical.

While Charles Henderson or Goshen fans won’t tear down the goal posts if they do pull the upset, the excitement level should be high heading into the stadium tonight because both have the team structure needed to knock off a St. Paul’s or a Flomaton.