Rams preparing for potential region championship matchup
Published 12:01 pm Wednesday, October 4, 2023
The Valley Rams face possibly the biggest test of their season this Friday against the undefeated Clay Central Volunteers.
Valley is 0-3 against Clay Central all-time. Last season, the Rams lost in a tough battle at home. The Volunteers came out on top in that matchup 12-6.
Both teams come into this matchup 2-0 in region play. Valley already has a win over Beauregard, a team that is usually near the top of the region. It’s safe to say this Friday’s game is pivotal for the Rams getting where the team, coaches and fans want them to be.
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“If you want to have a chance to win the region championship, you’ve got to beat Clay Central,” Valley coach Adam Hunter said. “That’s just all there is to it. They have led the region the past couple of years and continue to do that.”
Valley and Clay Central are currently the only teams without a region loss. The Rams have not won a region championship since 2019. This matchup sets up to be a potential region championship. The coaching staff and the team know what is at stake, but Hunter does not want to look too far ahead.
“I think you’ve got to treat it as if it’s for the region,” Hunter said. “You’ve got to treat it that way, but we’ve still got two really good region opponents we’ve got to play, Tallassee and Elmore County.”
Clay Central plays a very classic form of football. Each season, the Volunteers seem to have a new standout running back and they typically look to punish opponents at the line of scrimmage.
“They’re a hard-nosed football [team], very physical,” Hunter said. “We’ve got to play really well to beat that.”
This year’s dynamic running back for Clay Central is Ladamion Boyd, but last week the Volunteers paired him with a dynamic performance from Damion Cosby.
“I think we’ve got to give him some looks that’s going to help us and help stop what they try to do,” Hunter said. “They’re a power football team. They’re going to want to get in that wishbone, and they’re going to be real methodical with it.”
Ever since Danny Horn came back to Clay County in 2018, the Volunteers’ calling card has been their defense. The defense has only allowed nine points per game, and the defense has never allowed more than 13 points in a game this season.
With size on the outside and two playmakers in the backfield, the Rams hope to present some new challenges for the Volunteers.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” Hunter said. “We’re going to try to read some stuff with Cam, let him throw it, some RPO stuff and still do what we do. We’ve run the ball successfully against some good teams, we’ve just shot ourselves in the foot. We’ve got to win the line of scrimmage.”
Every player for the Rams has mentioned one goal during the offseason and since the season started. That goal is to win a state championship.
With this matchup against Clay Central, Valley’s athletes need no extra motivation. The team knows how big of a game this is for them, the program and the community.
“They know what’s at stake,” Hunter said.
“We don’t have to say a whole lot to get them motivated in that sense. They know what they’ve got to do, They know that we’re going into a tough environment to play in and they know we’re playing a very good football team. We don’t have to hype it up because they know what’s at stake.”
The big surprise for the Rams this season has been the linebackers. It is one of the youngest groups on the team, but those young guys have stepped up to make it a strength.
Carter Chambley, CJ Chambley, Hezekiah Avery and Zan Woody have stepped up. Hunter is asking for even more from those guys as well as the defensive line this week.
“They’re going to have to play really well,” Hunter said. “If we’re going to be in this game, we’ve got to play really well up front defensively.”
It is relatively early in the season, but without a doubt, this matchup on Friday could be one of Valley’s biggest games this season and in years past.