The Model Blue Devils are set to host the Chattooga Indians in a rare Tuesday-night Region 7-AA showdown, and a lot will be on the line at Woodward-Tuggle Stadium.
Region 7-AA’s No. 3 will be up for grabs as both teams look to clinch a spot in the 2020 Class AA Football State Playoffs.
“We had a decent week of practice last week and there are 3-4 guys on Chattooga’s offense we’ve got to try to control,” Blue Devils head coach Jeff Hunnicutt said in a phone interview. “We keep stumping our toe so-to-speak offensively and we’ve got to execute better.”
This contest was originally scheduled to be held on Oct. 9, but due to a Chattooga quarantine at the time, the game was rescheduled to Tuesday.
“I’ve been a part of some Thursday (games) back in college and obviously doing some junior varsity stuff, but never this early in the week,” Hunnicutt said. “It’s on our shoulders right now. You win one and you’re definitely in.”
Throughout 2020, Model has leaned on the strength of its defense, holding opponents to an average of just under 19 points per game. The Blue Devils held Pepperell to 14 points in their last game on Friday, Nov. 6.
Offensively, Model has struggled for consistency, scoring more than 21 points just three times this season. The Blue Devils have scored seven points in their last two games each.
“We’re trying to establish that smash-mouth style football and (quarterback Sam Silver and running back Joseph Wallace) can do a decent job of it,” Hunnicutt said. “With Joseph, he has a bit of an explosiveness to him, but he’s missed the bounce or missed the cutback or vice versa. We’ve just really been trying to hone in on those abilities he has the potential to do. It goes back to executing. When we do what we’re supposed to do, we’re a pretty good offensive football team.”
On the flip side, Chattooga features a tremendous duo in senior quarterback Cash Allen and junior running back Lashaun Lester. Both players have presented plenty of worries for opposing defenses, especially Lester, who is 89 yards away from 1,000 rushing yards on the season.
“I think it goes back to the same thing we tried to do against DJ Rogers from Pepperell,” Hunnicutt said when asked about Lester. “DJ is probably a step quicker than Lester, however Lester has great lateral transition in the hole. Our defense line has been concentrating on that all week and linebackers as well.”
Lester has rushed for 72% of his team’s rush attempts so far and leads Chattooga in touchdowns with 13. Meanwhile, Allen has thrown for 1,372 yards with 10 TDs and three interceptions.
Last week in a 28-13 loss at Pepperell, Lester recorded a career-high 31 carries for 174 yards and one touchdown.
Allen was 6-for-15 for 56 yards with one touchdown pass. His TD went to freshman standout receiver Nic Hester, who leads the Indians in receptions and yards with 48 for 565 yards, respectively.
“With Hester the freshman, he’s an exceptional athlete,” Hunnicutt said. “Cash (Allen) is a big, tall thing and when he gets going, he can go. He can run the ball extremely well. He can throw the ball 65 yards, probably easily. We’ve tried to make sure we’re staying on top of our receivers this week and try to keep things in front of us.”
This contest is Chattooga’s final regular-season matchup of the year and possibly of 2020. Should Chattooga lose, they would need Model to defeat Gordon Central for the No. 4 seed, as Chattooga holds the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Should Model lose, the Blue Devils would need to defeat Gordon Central on Saturday to earn the No. 4 seed from the region.
“I’m expecting a good football game tomorrow night with Chattooga because this is their last game,” Hunnicutt said. “It’s an opportunity for ... seniors to extend their season. It’s like I told our guys ‘this is the last time we’re going to play in this stadium,’ granted we make a playoff run and we win a coin flip. Most likely, that’s not going to happen and this is the last chance that you get. How do you want to go out. How do you want to be remembered.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in Shannon.