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 Auburn at Central-Phenix City | Friday - October 14, 2022 | Class 7A, Region 2 Game 

QB #1 Jaylen Epps (Central-Phenix City) on a long run in the first quarter against Dothan earlier in the season.

The #1 Auburn Tigers go on the road to face #4 Central-Phenix City in a Class 7A, Region 2 game at Garrett-Harrison Stadium on Friday night. If Central wins, they will claim the region championship; if Auburn wins, they will need another region win to get the region title.

Last season, Central defeated Auburn twice, and that path took them to the AHSAA Class 7A championship game. The Red Devils will try to repeat it this season, but they are hosting a little more experienced team from a year ago. "We need to play well and don't need to turn the ball over," said Tigers head coach Keith Etheredge. "You can't give them opportunities to make big plays because they have a lot of guys that can make the big play. They can make big play after big play. We have to be patient and not force things. This season, they are as good as I've seen on the back side."

Auburn (7-0, 5-0) comes into the game with a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. Auburn comes into the game with wins over non-region opponents Hoover (17-14), 5A powerhouse Ramsay (42-21), and their five region wins.

At quarterback, the Tigers like to use a two-system rotation with Clyde Pittman and Davis Harsin. Pittman is one of the most efficient passing quarterbacks in the state. "Clyde has got much faster and more accurate with his passes," added Etheredge. "With all that experience brings composure and intelligence. He worked hard on his speed and got stronger in the off-season. Great leader and young man. He has a great arm and is one of the hardest workers on the team." With Pittman is Harsin, who brings another aspect to the running game as he can pull it and run any time he is in the game.

The running game has Da'vaioun Williams that can make the big play or pound you over and over. "DV is a patient runner that can find the crease and get north and south," said Etheredge. "He is a grinder; he runs hard between the tackles with great vision and power. A very consistent runner for us." Also, Tyler Flakes is another important runner for the Tiger's run game.

The receiving core can be very explosive for the Tigers. Ean Nation can catch the home run ball at any time. Marcellus Josephson, Cody Palmer, and Jack Hudson have great hands that can catch the ball in traffic. Tight end Tyler McKinnell and Griffin McLean are good blockers that can make a play in the passing game.

The Tiger's offensive line could be one of the best in the state. Auburn commitment Bradyn Joiner leads the way being a four-year starter in varsity football. Avery Ferris, Eric Patrick, Jalen Foster, and Charles Reese are with him. Reese and Foster might not be players at the next level, but Coach Etheredge pointed out they are having an excellent year for the Tiger's offensive line. 

The Auburn defense will have to play big against the explosive offense of Central. Defensive lineman Akeem White, Mark Toland, Jordan Reese, Cade Rabren, and Rico Spinks lead the way. The linebackers are excellent, with Klark Cleveland, Coleman Granberry, and Octavian Brown. "Klark and Coleman are tenacious at that position," added Etheredge. "They get sideline to sideline and make tackles. They are hard nose and solid football players."

The secondary will need to limit the big-play receivers of Central. Graham Young, Amory Witcher, Jailyn Davis, Andrew King, Andre Emilus, and Jaden Walker will try to limit the Central passing game. 

Kicker Towns McGough has not missed a field goal or an extra point all season long. Look for Central to start drives at the 20-yard line after an Auburn score with McGough booming kicks out of the end zone.

Central-Phenix City (6-2, 5-1) have their five region wins along with a region loss to Opelika (17-14) and a non-region win against Hewitt-Trussville (37-21), and a loss to IMG Academy (41-26). The Red Devils have won two in a row with big wins over Dothan and Lee-Montgomery. 

Quarterback Jaylen Epps leads the Red Devils' offense. The senior QB has completed 112-of-190 passes for 1,599 yards with 16 touchdowns and five interceptions. The senior QB has 391 yards on 62 carries and four touchdowns running the football. Epps has a great touch on the deep ball and can take off if the pressure collapses in the pocket. Against Dothan two weeks ago, Epps completed 15-of-20 passing for 274 yards & 4 TDs, 68 yards on nine carries in the win. He can have a big game anytime he steps on the field.

Running backs Romello Green and Zack Simmons get carries. Last week, Green had eight carries for 53 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Simmons leads the Red Devils' rushing attack with 447 yards on 72 carries and five touchdowns. Fullback Eric Wilson does an excellent job of creating holes for the offense.

The wide receivers could be the best in Class 7A. Karmello English is electric any time he touches the ball. English has excellent speed, good hands, and runs great routes, which will be an issue for the Tiger's secondary. English has 45 receptions for 503 yards and five touchdowns in the game. He will be a tough cover for any defensive back if you single him. Wide receiver Cameron Coleman can stretch the field with his length and speed. Coleman has 18 receptions for 357 yards and five touchdowns. Against Dothan, Coleman had three receptions for 113 yards and a touchdown. Wide receiver Jared Wiley is another speedster on the outside. Against Dothan, English, Coleman, and Wiley had touchdown receptions.

The Red Devils' offensive line has Ameir Bellamy, Keyon Cox, Calbe Tarver, and Xavier Reed. They will need a great effort for the Central offense to be successful on the night. 

The Red Devils' defense has one of the best in the state. Defensive lineman Tomarrion Parker has been injured and has not played since the IMG game. I'm sure he is itching to get back on the field for this rivalry game. Parker is a nightmare for opposing defenses because he will be a force on the line. Defensive linemen Lance Pitts, Isaia Faga, and Jae'len Southall will get playing time. 

Latori Williams, Delvin Stokes, Joshua Lee, Dexter McDaniel, and Deontae Ware are linebackers. These guys fly to the football. The secondary has Georgia commitment, AJ Harris. Harris had 20 tackles against Dothan this season. Cayden Coleman, Quintavious Billingsley, and Rydarrius Morgan will try to limit the Auburn pass game.

Billingsley averages 35.0 yards per punt, while Ethan Paul handles the kicking duties. English is a massive weapon for the Red Devils, returning punts and kicks. Look for the Tigers to get away from English as much as possible.

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