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Lizi Arbogast / The Outlook Horseshoe Bend's defense will have to be on the lookout for a pair of tough running backs at Vincent tonight.

Horseshoe Bend and Vincent’s football teams are in exactly the same position.

They both are sitting at 1-5 (1-2 Class 2A Region 4). After this week, they’ll both have two region games left, one of which will be against Fayetteville for both teams and one of which will be against a team they’ll be the serious underdog in.

Both teams’ only win came against Central Coosa.

Depending on what happens in both teams’ games with Fayetteville, the squad who earns the coveted No. 4 spot out of the region could come down to this.

“With this being such a high-profile game for us, I was worried our guys would put a huge amount of pressure on themselves and they would psych themselves out,” HBS coach Jeremy Phillips said. “But to me, that hasn’t been the case. The guys have been real loose at practice and they’re having fun. To me and the teams I’ve been around, those are the best practices and usually that translates to Friday night.”

Both teams are also coming off pretty good situations. The Generals had last week off and Vincent is coming off its only victory.

But last week is behind them and now it’s time to focus on the task at hand. Horseshoe Bend took the time to put in some extra wrinkles during the bye week and it’s hoping that will throw off the Yellow Jackets. Holt Tidwell and Cole Johnson split time at quarterback two weeks ago against Loachapoka and General fans could see more of that tonight.

“We’re just trying to find something to make an explosive play for us down the field and try to get the edge a little bit,” Phillips said. “Whenever you get the edge and hit some passes downfield, it opens up everything. We’re going to try to do that to try to open up the run a little bit.”

Vincent boasts a lot of size up front on the defensive line and at linebacker. Evan Swain moves between nose guard and linebacker and he’s going to be tough to get around.

“To me, he’s their best defensive player,” Phillips said. “He has a high motor and he flies around to the ball.” 

That’s going to make it tough for Horseshoe Bend to run the ball over and over again like it’s been able to against some teams.

Offensively, Vincent is fairly two dimensional and it runs out of several formations from the spread to the wishbone to a wing-T. Quarterback William Harris runs a balanced offense, and he’s helped along by running backs Jeremiah Youngblood, who has a ton of size, and LaDontae McGregor, who boasts a play-making ability.

“(McGregor) is an impact player all around,” Phillips said. “He’s going to be a guy we have to keep our eye on on offense and on defense and special teams. He’s also their punter and punt returner. They do like Coosa does and he’ll catch it when they’re punting and he has the freedom to take off running if he wants to. He is their big impact player that we have to stop.” 

With so many similarities on the field and between the teams in general, it’s difficult to know what’s going to happen tonight. But Phillips feels good, especially coming off the bye week, and he knows his team has the potential to make a run for the playoffs despite the rough start to the season.

“They do some things that hurt us and we do some things that hurt them,” Phillips said. “It (should be) an even game. (Tonight), if you’re wanting a good game to go watch, this is going to be a good one to come watch. I have a feeling it’s going to be a knockdown, drag out game.” 

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.