Linden looking to slow potent Chickasaw attack in Round 1

Chickasaw enters the Class 1A state playoffs at 4-6 as the No. 3 seed out of Region 1. And while those numbers do not exactly scream of a potential first-round playoff upset, they also do little to tell of just how explosive Chickasaw actually is.

The Chieftains have averaged 39 points per game in their first season, maximizing the skills of quarterback Chandler Rigdon.

In a 49-48 loss to Satsuma last week, Rigdon finished 21-of-29 through the air for 309 yards and five touchdowns. He also ran for 162 yards on 21 carries.

“He’s the real deal. Straight out of Tallahassee, Fla. He’s the guy that makes them go,” Linden head coach Andro Williams said of Rigdon. “I think he’s their leading rusher for the year. He’s the guy that makes their offense go.”

Rigdon will look to lead the upset-minded Chieftains to a playoff win at Linden Friday night where Williams’ Patriots are fresh off a 33-28 win over Class 5A playoff qualifier Dora.

Slowing down Rigdon, in Williams’ estimation, will mean limiting his options. Rigdon’s primary targets are Lashawn Williams and Keivonte Gallmon.

“Their receivers, Williams and Gallmon, are playmakers. Those guys look like they’ve been coached up. The quarterback knows that if he throws it up they’ll come back to it in the scramble drill,” Andro Williams said. “The main thing we’ve got to do is put pressure on the line of scrimmage and make that quarterback make a decision right now. We’ve got to go in and take those people away that they try to get the ball in their hands.”

Chickasaw has reaped the reward of playing its athletes just one way, keeping legs fresh and free to light up the scoreboard as they did the night the hung 68 points on Millry.

“They are a team that believes in playing guys one way. They are fresh on offense because they don’t play any defense,” Williams said. “They’re going to spread you out all over the field. They run about three or four different empty sets. They’ve got some pretty good tendencies out of what they’re doing offensively. It causes you to have to line up right to everything they’re doing. Ronnie Cottrell is a guy who has been around the world and back. They do a good job of getting the ball to the people they need to get the ball too. Our hands are going to be full. We’ve got the make sure we line up right and play fast and play physical and make sure we are sure tacklers.”

Defensively, the Chieftains are known to stack the box and dare opposing teams to go over the top.

“We feel like, defensively, they’re a team that doesn’t mind mixing it up, jumping in man-to-man. They’re going to put a lot of people in the box. We’ll be ready to for them to load the box up and play man behind it. We feel like we’ve got to be able to run the football,” Williams said. “I definitely feel like we got probably one of the better third seeds in the state in 1A. They’ve got a big upside on what they’re doing. They’ve got potential to be a team that can hurt you with what they’re doing in a lot of different areas.”

The Patriots enter the game a week after having led Dora by 14 and then trailed by 14 before going on to the win.

“The main thing is we played a game of that caliber. We hadn’t played a game of that caliber in a while. The game could have possibly been in hand by the third quarter late if we did what we needed to do in the first half as well as in the second half. We’ve got to do those basic teams with blocking and tackling. Playing that team exposed that part of what we do. We were able to use that film to show our kids,” Williams said. “Those are things that we can teach our kids about blocking and tackling. We’ve got to do it on a consistent basis. It’s probably one of the most beneficial films that we’ve had all year. We know our kids are going to play hard, they’re going to compete and they’re going to get after it.”

As his team readies to open its postseason run, Williams also highlighted the importance of crowd support.

“We’ve got to have more people at our game, supporting our kids. We’ve got to do a better job of coming out, supporting our kids and trying to help us. I think our fans really helped us in Dora the other night,” Williams said.

Linden and Chickasaw are set for a 7 p.m. kickoff Friday. The winner of that contest moves on to face the winner of Brantley and Loachapoka.