Braxton Buck

Holtville quarterback Braxton Buck (4) attempts to throw a pass against Handley on Friday.

The first loss of any season can be difficult to deal with but Holtville was hit especially hard by last week’s defeat to Handley. The 28-point loss ended a home-winning streak and gave the Bulldogs a wake-up call for where they need to be to compete in region play this season.

Now, Holtville (1-1, 0-1 Class 4A Region 4) has to respond to avoid falling into a bigger hole in the playoff picture. The Bulldogs are traveling to Childersburg this week as they look for their first road win in region play since 2013.

“We’re sitting 0-1 in the region right now so you have to bounce back,” Holtville coach Jason Franklin said. “You have to go on the road so you have to be focused this week. You don’t have time to ponder on the past. We have to move on and fix some of the mistakes we had the other night.”

Childersburg (2-1, 0-1) is also coming off of a loss after falling to Talladega, 28-8, in the region opener. The Tigers are looking to avoid a second straight year without the postseason but they have to protect their home field, where they went just 2-3 last season. However, Franklin said it does not matter where it plays, Childersburg can still be a threat to anyone in the region.

“They’ve got some athletes,” Franklin said. “They do a lot of things that make you play your keys and play assignment football. They’ll give you a few different looks on defense so we will make sure we’re ready for any possible scenario they can throw at us.”

Holtville was not prepared for the defensive fronts Handley presented but Franklin said that was his fault and the Bulldogs will not let it happen again. The Tigers still present plenty of challenges on that side of the ball and Franklin said it starts in the middle.

“Being an offensive guy, I look at their linebackers (Zakerrius Youngblood) and (Javiun Jones) are two guys who really run to the football,” Franklin said. “We’re going to have to account for them. They show a lot of two-high looks in the secondary so we have to be prepared for that.”

The Bulldogs were without quarterback Drake Baker against Handley due to a lingering shoulder issue and he is questionable to return against Childersburg. While Baker’s return could be coming, the Bulldogs will have to find a different solution on offense if he is unable to go this week.

Childersburg counters with quarterback Cameron Thrash who Franklin said can be a threat in the running game. Running backs Xzavion Garrett and Elijah Sims will still carry a bulk of the load but all three will likely see plenty of carries.

“The quarterback is a big kid and runs the ball well,” Franklin said. “He does a good job with their offense with a lot of quarterback counters and speed options that we will have to be prepared for. Their running back is a really quick good that can do some things with the ball.”

Despite being limited in last week’s loss, Childersburg has had plenty of success on both sides so far this season. The Tigers outscored their opponents by 52 total points in their first two games and Franklin said his coaching staff is using film from those games to see what they like to do.

“We’re looking at things that the other team had success at and the tendencies they have,” Franklin said. “We’re still trying to formulate a game plan for different downs and distances but that can sometimes be tougher than just what you think they’re going to give you. So we’re going to have to be prepared for a lot of different things.”

PREDICTION: Holtville 28, Childersburg 18

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.