The opponent Arab will host Friday night in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs is “a typical Birmingham football team,” according to Knights head coach Lee Ozmint.

“They’re good, they’re well coached, they’re athletic and their line is big and strong and well disciplined,” Ozmint said Sunday as coaches began full-scale preparation for Homewood (5-5, 3-3 in Region 5).

Of particular concern is 6-foot-2, 200-pound quarterback Woods Ray, a junior who wears No. 13.

“He’s big, has a strong arm and he can run,” Ozmint said. “His brother (6-6 senior Harvey Ray) plays tight end for them.”

Homewood started the season in impression fashion, winning five of its first six games. That included a 37-35 region win over Chelsea that had a lot to do with Homewood grabbing the No. 3 seed (Chelsea is the four seed).

The Patriots lost their last four games, though, including a 10-7 loss to 6A, Region 3 runner-up Pelham in the regular season finale last week. As usual, though, Ozmint and his coaches are concerned more about the Knights than the opponent.

“We’ve got to do what we do and do it better,” Ozmint said. “They playoffs is not the time to install things.

“We’re going to do what we do and our objective at practice this week (has been) to get better. If we’ve proven one thing over the last two years, it’s that we play the way we practice.”

Ozmint noted that Arab (8-2) has prepared and played well enough to win every game this season. There have been mistakes in every game but the Knights were able to overcome them except in two games: at Guntersville and at home against Oxford.

The Wildcats finished 9-1 and as the No. 1 seed in 5A, Region 7. Oxford, the defending Region 7 champ, went just 6-4 overall but had a 5-1 record in region games.

“We have a chance to make right for the wrongs we’ve done this season,” Ozmint said of the two losses. “We’re playing the same type of team as Oxford and Guntersville.

“We’ve played some athletic teams and we’ve beaten some athletic teams. And we’re going to have to beat some more if we want to keep playing.”

Ozmint and the coaches saw some things in the regular season-ending 45-14 win over Boaz last Friday that encouraged them. They also saw some things they can use to motivate the players to get better.

“Spencer Strickland, that game was the best he’s blocked since he’s been here,” Ozmint said. “(Hayden) O’Reilly played really great. He plays both ways but he really looked good running the ball.

“That’s the kind of (improvement) we’re looking for, to get better.

“I noticed, also, that as the offense scored a lot of points, some of the defensive players didn’t have quite the same stats they’ve had in other games.

“We’ve got to have all hands on deck for the playoffs. If we’re going to survive and advance – and that’s the name of the game – we’ve got to have all hands on deck.”

This will be just the third time Arab will host a state playoff game. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

Remember, this is an AHSAA event and all tickets will be $10 and are available at GoFan. No reserved seat tickets, Gold Card or employee passes will be accepted.

Arab and Homewood have met just once before, in the season-opener for both teams in 1981. Homewood won at Arab, 20-14.

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