Tigers relish ‘championship opportunity’
KINGMAN – The Tigers understand and embrace what winning the City Championship tonight at Lee Williams means. It would be the first time Kingman Academy beat the Volunteers in four tries and would give the city’s smallest school a little swagger.
But most of all it would give the Tigers a springboard heading into its region schedule at 2-1 rather than 1-2.
“It’s a championship opportunity,” KAHS football coach Dan Stroup said. “You never know which games are the most important until the season is over.”
Kingman Academy has taken each of the previous three meetings into the fourth quarter, and one into overtime, but hasn’t come out on top. The first step in doing so this year is stopping junior tailback Paul Giglio.
Dysart was outstanding last week by limiting Giglio to five yards on eight carries in the Demons 56-0 win over the Vols. But Giglio had 133 yards against Kingman the previous week.
“They’ve got a really good back,” Stroup said. “He’s a really good cutback runner, so we can’t over pursue. He’s an explosive guy and we have to keep him in check.”
The coach knows his Tigers can’t completely focus on Giglio because of Vols’ quarterback Daniel Mazon. He’s 17-for-35 with 198 yards and two touchdowns. He’s thrown three interceptions, all against Dysart.
“He’s a good quarterback and can throw the ball well,” Stroup said. “We’re pretty good at making teams work and forcing them into a mistake before they get down there.”
When Stroup’s Tigers have the ball, he expects to see different looks from the Vols defense.
“You don’t know which one they’ll be coming with,” the coach said. “Our offense is such that we’ll be able to adapt no matter what they line up in.”
Stroup figures the biggest obstacle with his team is getting them to play with freedom.
“Our kids need to play like toddlers,” he said. “Toddlers don’t care about being judged, and this is the kind of game where outside distractions need to be ignored. We need to focus on the game and not worry about what others are thinking.”
But for the fans, the outside distractions are all part of the package. And with the second annual City Championship on the line, the stadium should be energized.
“This should be great for the community,” Stroup said. “But as coaches and players we see it as it being very competitive. We’re excited for the game but not overly excited and being out of our minds.”
Kickoff is at 7 p.m.