Trojans aim to bring ‘A-Game’ to Eufaula matchup

Published 10:49 am Monday, October 9, 2023

After a brutal five-game road stretch, the Charles Henderson Trojans (3-3, 1-2) are finally back at home this Friday, Oct. 13, in a Class 5A, Region 2 showdown with the Eufaula Tigers (5-2, 3-0).

Charles Henderson started the season off with a home matchup against Mary Montgomery but since then has been on the road for five straight weeks, including last week’s heartbreaking 30-27 loss to Rehobeth.

“We left a lot of plays on the field, we dropped five touchdowns,” CHHS Coach Quinn Hambrite said of the loss. “We went out there flat and we just didn’t play our style of football but in the second half I think we kind of got a reality check and turned it around.

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“We played extremely hard in the second half but our efforts weren’t enough to win the game. I’m proud of the way they responded from the first half but we just left so many points on the field.”

After a tough – and inconsistent – road stretch, Hambrite said his Trojans are excited to be back at Veterans Memorial Stadium this Friday.

“It feels good not to have to be on the road for the first time in five weeks,” he emphasized. “We’re excited and hopefully we can pack the crowd. It will be a big game against Eufaula this Friday and we’re just happy that we are done with that away stretch.”

Eufaula comes into the contest on a two-game winning streak and the only team in the region with an undefeated region record. After starting the season with a 63-13 loss to 7A Enterprise, Eufaula rebounded to win three straight including two region wins over Headland and Greenville. After a non-region loss to Pike Road, Eufaula followed up with wins over both Pell City on Sept. 29 and Carroll this past week.

“Eufaula is a really good team,” Hambrite said. “They play hard, fast and they’re physical. We have our hands full this week. We’ll see how our guys respond during practice and hopefully get us a win.”

Eufaula’s balanced offense features quarterback Browning Anderson, who threw for 369 yards and four touchdowns last week against Carroll. The senior has completed 76-of-150 passes this season for 1,343 yards, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions. He’s also been effective on the ground, rushing for 284 yards and five touchdowns.

Senior running back Red Harris leads the ground game with 719 yards and nine touchdowns on 109 carries through seven games, while Antron Mitchell is Anderson’s favorite target in the air with 34 catches for 768 yards and seven touchdowns. Harris has eclipsed 100 yards rushing in all but two games this season, while Mitchell has earned more than 130 yards in the air in five games. Athlete Arelious Slaughter has also been effective through the air and on the ground with 20 catches for 215 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 110 yards and one touchdown rushing.

The Tiger defense is anchored by linebacker Jay Moss, who has tallied 73 tackles, 10 tackles-for-loss, one sack and one forced fumble this season. Defensive end Lekeveyunate Pugh has also tallied nine tackles-for-loss and four sacks, while defensive back Toney Coleman Jr. has 41 tackles and an interception.

Meanwhile, Parker Adams has guided the Charles Henderson offense with 1,274 yards and 10 touchdowns with four interceptions, while Zach Coleman has 674 yards and 11 touchdowns on 80 carries. Jywon Boyd leads the receivers with 42 catches for 693 yards and seven touchdowns.

On defense, All-American Zion Grady has more than 14 tackles-for-loss and seven sacks this season, while Boyd has three interceptions.

Charles Henderson trails Eufaula in the long-standing series between the two schools 28-47. The matchup dates all the back to 1922, while Charles Henderson won the last matchup 34-7 in 2022.

With the playoff picture becoming more and more clear each week, Hambrite emphasized the need for the Trojans to bring their “A-Game” every week moving forward.

“I’ve been preaching it all year, we want a four quarter game. We cannot bring our ‘B-Game’ when everyone brings their ‘A-Game’ against us,” he said. “It’s easy to be the underdog and win but it’s hard to be the ‘Top Dog’ and win. When you start the season off No. 2 the expectations are there and everyone wants to knock you off.

“We’ve played like the underdog and we can’t play like that anymore. We have to go out there and bring our ‘A-Game’ every single game, because everyone is going to have that target on our backs. If we go out there with our ‘A-Game’ we’ll give ourselves a chance to win, if we bring our ‘B-Game’ we don’t stand a chance. I think our kids will respond this week, though.”

Charles Henderson hosts Eufaula at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 13, at Veterans Memorial Stadium.