As if graduating 30 seniors from a small Class 6A program wasn’t enough, Eufaula will face what head football coach Ed Rigby said is the “toughest schedule” in the history of the school this fall.
He’ll get few arguments.
After opening its season at Carroll in Ozark, Eufaula plays a murderer’s row that seems to only taper off at best in October.
“If you’re successful, which Eufaula has been, people just don’t want to play you,” Rigby said. “What we have are people that are willing to play us.”
Rigby noted that the Tigers have played up in competition the last two seasons, including Wakulla High of Crawfordville, Florida last season. EHS will not play anyone outside of Alabama this fall as Early County, Georgia, is also no longer on the schedule.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who are just gonna have to step up,” Rigby said. “It’s the circle of life in football, The region is gonna be way, way tougher.”
Eufaula expected to return to 5A this fall; instead R.E. Lee of Montgomery dropped down from 7A and perennial power Opelika joined the region.
Eufaula holds a 47-24-2 advantage in its series against Carroll, but the Eagles are just two seasons removed from an 11-0 start and three seasons away from opening 12-0.
The Tigers have played Class 7A powerhouse Central-Phenix City the last two seasons in a spring game, but this year EHS will welcome the Red Devils to Tiger Stadium Week 2 on Aug. 25. Central will be under the direction of new head coach Patrick Nix, father of Auburn University quarterback Bo Nix. The elder Nix was 38-4 in three seasons at Pinson Valley, winning the 6A state titles in both ’17 and ’18 with his son at quarterback.
Amazingly, Eufaula holds an edge over Central in its series, 16-13-3. Nevertheless, the Red Devils went 12-2 last year and lost in the 7A title game, was a perfect 14-0 in 2018 and crushed Thompson in the 7A title game, and was 10-2 in 2016. Former Central head coach Jamie DuBose left after last season to take over the Lowndes, Georgia program.
Eufaula makes the first of three trips to Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl when it faces Lee for the first time ever in football on Sept. 4. Lee was 7-3 last year at 7A and finished in the 7A semifinals in 2018.
On Sept. 11, Eufaula welcomes Opelika to Tiger Stadium. Were it not for a controversial overturning of an EHS touchdown last season at Hueytown, the two schools would have met here in the third-round of the state playoffs. Opelika finished 2019 at 11-2, losing in the semifinals to eventual runner-up Spanish Fort by 3. Opelika reached the state finals in 2016. Again, somewhat surprisingly, Eufaula holds the series edge over the Bulldogs, 20-11.
Eufaula visits Park Crossing at Cramton Bowl on Sept. 18. The Thunderbirds lost in the 6A quarterfinals last year to eventual runner-up Spanish Fort by 7. EHS and Park Crossing have only played twice, splitting those games the last two seasons.
The Tigers welcome Stanhope Elmore to Eufaula on Sept. 25. The Mustangs were 9-3 last season and lost in the 6A quarterfinals. Stanhope Elmore leads Eufaula in all-time meetings, 7-5, the last battle in 2005 with the Tigers coming out on top, 28-27.
Eufaula’s October schedule includes:
Valley, which reached the 6A quarterfinals last season and beat mighty Vigor in first round. EHS clings to a 27-26-1 series lead.
Carver, which is two seasons removed from an 8-3 record. The Tigers and Wolverines are 1-1 all-time, splitting games the last two seasons.
Russell County is weakest team on Eufaula’s schedule, but the Warriors have a proven winner now in head coach Mark Rose, who took over prior to last season. EHS holds a lopsided lead in the series, 36-5.
Sidney Lanier has made the playoffs five straight seasons, but Eufaula leads the series, 3-1, with the only loss coming on a last-second field goal at Cramton Bowl in 2018.
On, and for good measure, Eufaula will visit Class 7A Auburn High on May 14 for its spring game. The Tigers begin their allotted 10 spring practice days on April 28.
Eufaula 2020 football schedule
18 — Carroll at Ozark
25 — Central-Phenix City HOME
4 — R.E. Lee at Montgomery
11 — Opelika HOME
18 — Park Crossing at Montgomery
25 — Stanhope Elmore HOME
2 — Valley at Valley
9 — Carver HOME
16 — Russell County HOME
23 — Sidney Lanier at Montgomery
30 — OPEN