MANY – The calendar may say it’s just September, but Many coach Jess Curtis is expecting a ‘playoff feel’ Friday when Class 5A Haughton comes a-callin’ to John W. Curtis Tiger Stadium at 7 p.m.
And it’s not just because Haughton (2-0) is Class 5A – the Tigers (2-0) easily dispatched of fellow 5A Sam Houston 38-3 to open the season.
It’s because both teams are playing at a seemingly high level, the latest edition of proud programs with rich playoff tradition.
“That’s why (Haughton) is on the schedule – to give us that playoff feel,” Curtis said. “Playing a successful Class 5A challenges us in every area.
“It’s important to be playing well when your run into a team like Haughton. You know you have to play well or you’re going home.”
Haughton missed the playoffs for the first time in at least 20 years this past season, including each season since they’ve reclassified to 5A in 2011.
Many developed its championship pedigree over the last decade, which includes two Class 2A state titles in five championship game appearances since 2013.
The Bucs, whose 2019 squad advanced all the way to the semifinals, have taken out any 2021 frustration on their first two opponents – beating fellow District 3-2A member Red River 35-0 in one half of football (lightning) before dismantling LaGrange 44-14.
Quarterback Colin Rains directs a versatile spread offense in which four different Bucs scored touchdowns just in the first quarter against LaGrange.
Many has faced a few different spread offenses this season, including dominating Sam Houston’s spread with just 103 yards allowed.
“Playing some spread teams earlier this season definitely helps us prepare and showed us things we need to clean up,” Curtis said. “Third down on defense is a down we want to win.
“And then we want to control the time of possession on offense because Haughton likes to go up-tempo. We want to hang on to the ball.”
The Tigers defensive strength is their sideline-to-sideline speed as 10 starters return from a year ago, making up arguably one of the best units in the state, not just Class 2A.
Many’s rushing attack, led by running back Jeremiah James who has topped the 100-yard mark in each of the first two games this season, has rolled up at least 280 rushing yards in its two wins.
The Tigers steamrolled a Class 4A playoff program in DeRidder to the tune of 300 rushing yards in a 50-7 demolition.
The special teams need to continue to be special, especially if returner Tackett Curtis can repeat a two-touchdown punt return performance from Week 1.
Before its Sam Houston win in Week 1, Many hadn’t logged a Class 5A win since beating Southwood in 2011.
Now the Tigers will attempt to pick up two in the first three weeks of the season.
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