High School Football Preview: Oak Grove Tigers

College Sports

OAK GROVE, Ala. (WIAT) — There’s reason for hope at Oak Grove High School. The Tigers have managed just seven wins in Coach Tom Hannah’s three years at the helm (one of which came by way of a Montevallo forfeit after an AHSAA ruling). Those experiences have driven the team and Hannah says he sees the progress in his players. “[We are] real upbeat and excited,” said Hannah. “Probably the strongest and most in-shape team we’ve had in several years, the most committed amongst our players.”

Despite the rough seasons, the Tigers finished only one game out of the playoffs last year. Oak Grove lost to Sipsey Valley, the team that garnered the fourth postseason bid out of the region, 16-6. The coaching staff has pushed the team harder in the offseason, which led to some players heading towards the exit. “Smallest numbers we’ve had since [in our tenure,]” said Hannah of his team, adding three or four players could have to play both ways.

OFFENSE: While many teams are getting into the deception game, Oak Grove takes you back in time in a cloud of dust. “Old school, hard-nosed, contact, run-it-right-at-you, you-got-to-stop-us,” is how Hannah described his offense. “We don’t spread it out and throw it all over the place. The Tigers return only two starters from a team that, despite the old-school style, still averaged 26.1 points per game. Some may describe the run-heavy offense as archaic, but they would also call it different in today’s game. “I think preparing for us is so much different than what they have to prepare for week-to-week-to-week,” said Hannah, referencing his style as a potential advantage. Billy Black and Jerrod Keyes, the two returning starters, will be the leaders of the unit.

DEFENSE: More experience is returning on the defensive side. Even though it’s a group that gave up more than 30 points a game, the players are game-tested, an attribute that can’t be earned in a weight room. “Defensively we haven’t been as good but we do have more seniors over there,” said Hannah. “We think we’ll be fine on both sides of the ball.”

The attrition from the coaching staff’s off-season regiment means a lack of depth. Injuries could quickly derail the Tigers 2015 season, however Hannah feels like while they’re small in number, they’re big in heart. “We have a group of kids that have bought in to what we’re trying to do,” he said. “We’re excited to see what the results are going to be.”2015 Schedule Oak Grove Tigers

8/21 – Jamboree

8/28 – @ Curry

9/4 – @ Montevallo

9/11 – Northside

9/18 – Brookwood

9/25 – @ Corner

10/2 – @ Holt

10/9 – Sipsey Valley

10/16 – @ West Blocton

10/23 – Bibb County

10/29 – Fultondale

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