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PLAYOFF FOOTBALL: League rivals Truman and Allen Park will hook up for fourth time in two seasons (PHOTOS)
Manny Andrade and the Allen Park Jaguars will go charging into the 2013 state playoffs riding the crest of a five-game winning streak. Among their victims during the streak was Truman, who will provide the first-round competition for the Jags in Allen Park on Friday. Photo by Dave Chapman
Devonte McGregor's (24) Truman Cougars went 7-2 this season and tied Ryan Oakley's (2) Allen Park Jags and the Melvindale Cardinals for second place in the Downriver League. Truman's losses came against league champ Roosevelt and Allen Park and Allen Park's losses came against Melvindale and Roosevelt.
Three of the same Downriver League teams from the 2012 season are in the same district again.
Truman and Allen Park will face off again in the first round and the Cougars are hoping that district history repeats itself.
A year ago, Truman knocked off Allen Park before falling to Roosevelt in the finals. Truman seemed unstoppable again this season until they met Allen Park in Week 6 and the Jags handed Truman its first of two losses this season.
The Jags beat the Cougars 21-14 in what was then considered a big upset.
However, after a season-opening loss to Melvindale and a 2-2 record to start the season, Allen Park has reeled off five straight wins and the Jags’ 7-2 record earned them a share of second place in the Downriver League.
Truman Coach Eric Stiegel said he doesn’t think the Week 6 game will have any effect on things though.
“They’re excited to play them,” he said about his team. “I don’t know that that loss will have any impact on this game.
“We look at it is as both teams have changed a little bit since then. So the main thing is we’ve just gotta prepare this week and I’m not worried about their mentality at all just because we lost.”
The week before Truman lost to Allen Park, the Cougar offense suffered a huge blow when starting running back D’Ante Barrow went down with a season-ending knee injury.
The Truman offense just wasn’t the same against Allen Park without him. Truman’s 14 points that night was by far its lowest output of the season; the next lowest was the 30 the Cougars scored in a loss to league champ Roosevelt.
Since then, the Cougars have recovered and with Devonte McGregor, Clarence Massey, Leon Contreras and Donovan Rubens in the backfield, the Cougars have scored 142 points in their final three games.
Rematches are always hard on each team, but Allen Park Coach Tom Hoover has been through a lot of them in his years of coaching.
“I have been on both sides of it,” he said. “I’ve won twice, lost twice, lost and then won and won and then lost.
“It’s always a new game. Really once the game starts, all that stuff’s out the window.”
Stiegel said he knows the Downriver teams will be very familiar with each other’s game strategies, but won’t necessarily be changing anything.
“I just think that we need to play a game like we did against Melvindale (a 58-28 win in the last game of the regular season) from here on out,” Stiegel said. “We have to prepare well. We’re going back to the same place (and) we have to play better than we did last time and make sure we do all the things we need to do this week to win.”
Hoover said his team won’t be focusing on the rematch from earlier in the season or last season’s games.
“We’re not gonna really focus too much on that stuff, because we’ve gotta beat them at football,” he said. “Not all the intangibles. We’ve gotta play football and score and try to stop them.
“Truman has intimidated some teams through this year and I don’t think they’ll intimidate our kids.”
The winner of this contest will take on either Roosevelt or Lincoln next week for the district title.
Last Updated: 10/29/2013 2:56:08 PM EST