Tough task: Trojans take on two-time defending state champions

Published 3:00 am Friday, November 4, 2016

The Charles Henderson Trojans head to Mobile this evening to take on two time defending state champion St. Paul’s in the opening round of the Class 5A State Playoffs.

The Trojans (7-3, 4-2) finished third in Region 2. The Saints  (7-3, 5-1) finished second in Region 1.

“Anytime you get into the playoffs, it’s certainly a fun time,” said Charles Henderson head coach Brad McCoy. “There are a lot of schools that didn’t have a chance to make it to this week. It’s supposed to be enjoyable.”

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The Trojans started the season 0-2 after falling to both UMS-Wright and an undefeated Carroll team. The Trojans won seven of their next eight games to clinch a playoff spot.

“We knew what we were doing wasn’t broke,” McCoy said. “We just had to fine tune and polish some things up and change some personnel. The things we did on both sides of the ball and in the kicking game really paved the way to winning.”

One of the adjustments and changes the Trojans made during the season was moving Terrell Woods from offense to defense.

“I think that has been the telltale sign of our defensive improvement,” McCoy said. “Terrell is a great leader, all the other guys have rallied and played up to his level.”

Woods and the Trojan defense have a big challenge when they take on the Saints offense that has averaged 34 points per game.

“They are a great football team and a confident football team,” McCoy said. “They are back-to-back state champions and they are very talented. They will run the football and play action you. We have our backs against the wall, but again our football team is a good football team and I think we matchup well with them.”

The Saints defense has allowed 19.9 points per game this season.

“We have to establish the run,” McCoy said. “I think DQ (Toney) and our receivers have to have a better night at throwing and catching than we did a week ago.”

A key factor will be how well the Trojans offensive line matches up with the Saints’ defense.

“Our offensive line has to be steady like we have been,” McCoy said. “We have been really good at running the football. Our offensive line in my opinion is one of the best in the state … They are a confident bunch and they believe they can win the line of scrimmage.”

McCoy believes how a team practices for a playoff game is the biggest factor in the outcome.

“The week of practice to me says how good your team is going to be in the playoffs,” McCoy said. “You have to know where they are going to line up, you have to know their personnel forward and backwards and you have to be able to do all the film study you can. If you can do those things during the week your guys are going to understand them better.”

The Saints have beaten the Trojans in all four of their previous meetings, including a 31-0 win in their last meeting in 2011.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at E.E. Delaney Field in Mobile.