The tandem of Purvis Coger, Quinton Harris, Chris Austin and Matthew Wilson have made it easy to see why. Through Oakman’s 11 contests this season, the secondary has accounted for 20 turnovers, including 11 interceptions — helping ground air attacks quickly and returning the ball into the Wildcat offense’s capable hands.
A week after dispatching a potent Cottonwood offense — a predominantly passing attack that had thrown for over 2,500 in the regular season — in a 56-26 first-round playoff victory, Oakman’s air wardens have prepared to do battle against another opponent that lofts passes often — the No. 3 Luverne Tigers. The Tigers (10-1) threw for three touchdowns in their 42-6 win over Leroy to open the playoffs.
At the heart of the secondary are veteran defensive backs Coger and Harris, who are responsible for 9 interceptions and 9 fumble recoveries on the year. Coger, a first-team all-state selection by the Alabama Sports Writers Association in 2012, leads the Daily Mountain Eagle coverage area with six picks and has four fumble recoveries, while Harris has three interceptions and five fumble recoveries.
Coger stated that the secondary relishes the prospect of playing against pass-heavy teams and looks forward to turning every thrown ball into a potential turnover.
“Teams haven’t been throwing in my direction like they did last year, but I’ve been doing everything I can to get the ball and place it into our offense’s hands and put points on the board,” Coger said. “Quinton and I talk about the opportunities we have to make the big plays in the secondary when we play a team that passes a lot — we compete with each other to see who can make more turnovers because in the end, it’s the team who wins from our competition.”
Harris, who returned an interception for a touchdown against Cottonwood last week, said that the secondary watches for certain tendencies from opposing offenses when reviewing game film and will focus on the Tigers’ ability to create get open and away from the coverage.
“Luverne likes to run a lot of combination routes, so we’ve been studying where their receivers break at and how they run up the field,” Harris said. “We’ll be watching for them to try to create that open space, as they have the ability to score points. We’ll be ready for the challenge as we have all year long.”
An interesting aspect of tonight’s contest will be the head coach on the sidelines opposing the Wildcats — Mike DuBose. The former head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, who is his first year with Luverne after serving a previous stint in 2003-04, has made the matchup gain a bit of an unusual flavor for the Wildcats, but has not deterred the team from their normal gameday preparation.
“We have to go this game like any other game and be ready for what they will be running against us,” Coger said. “It is nice to be able to compete against someone who led one of the elite programs in the nation — we’ll look to do our very best to show we’ve been coached well too.”