Motivation won’t be a problem for the Minden Crimson Tide ahead of this week’s heavyweight bout with North DeSoto.
The Griffins dismantled the Tide 23-0 in last year’s meeting, the Tide’s worst offensive outing of the year. Defensively, the Tide hung tough, but the ground and pound Griffins eventually wore out the Crimson Swarm.
Now the Tide will return to that same stadium, with revenge and playoff position on the line.
“They’re a very good team,” Minden head coach Spencer Heard said. “They’re solid in all three phases. They definitely like to run the ball, everyone knows it and that’s what they’re good at.”
The Griffins have the most dynamic backfield in class 1-4A, featuring Dennis Hall and Delmonte Hall.
Dennis Hall is a 5’6″, 217-pound bowling ball at fullback, while Delmonte is a 6-foot slasher who can also get involved in the passing game and provide speed on the edge.
“They’re two really good backs,” Heard said. “Then again, you have to account for their quarterback too, because he can throw the ball and take some deep shots; You have to be ready for it.”
The Griffins have a senior-laiden team, especially on defense. North DeSoto relies on pressure to rattle opposing offenses, much like they did last year against Antonio Rivette, a wide-eyed sophomore.
“They have an aggressive style,” Heard said. “They play a lot of man coverage. Last year, that’s what they did to us. They’ll put a lot of men in the box and force you to do things you don’t want to do. They scheme to try and take away your best player, but I feel good about what we have planned. It just comes down to execution and matching their physicality.”
If the Griffins do try take away Minden’s most lethal weapon, L’Jarius Sneed, look for fellow receiver Tavarius Edwards and tight end Kelcey Miller to step up.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if, in certain situations, they try to double team him,” Heard said. “They tried a little bit of that against Stevenson from Northwood, so I think we can expect some of that. Anytime they put two people on him they’re giving something up. We just have to be aware of when they do it and try to take advantage of it with some other guys.”
Rivette, who will be in charge of distributing the ball, wasn’t effective last year against the Griffins. Rivette tossed five interceptions in his worst outing of the season, but Heard said his signal-caller has taken big strides since then and will be ready come Friday night.
“His ability to make decisions and reads will be very important to our success this week,” Heard said. “This year, he’s more poised in the pocket, has a better sense of what’s going on around him and understands coverages much better. I think the outcome in terms of his play will be totally different this year.”
Heard has tried to relay the importance of this week’s game at practice. As a program on the rise, Minden could send a loud message to the rest of Class 4A with a road victory over North DeSoto.
“It’s probably the biggest game of the season,” Heard said. “It has implications on positioning and power ratings. We stand to gain a lot of power points for both of our last two games. The kids understand how important this game is not only for pride and wanting to win every game, but where we go in the playoffs.”