Friday Night Rewind: Big week for Linden schools

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Welcome to the first edition of the Friday Night Rewind, a weekly look back at the previous weekend’s high school football action. I’ll be highlighting the week’s biggest victories, best performances, and anything else happening on the region’s gridiron that bears mentioning.

We start a little ways down Highway 43…

Big wins in Linden

Linden High and Marengo Academy share a town, a football field, and this week they’ll share the pleasure of having recorded big victories that show the disappointments of last year may very well be behind them.

For the Patriots, their 20-16 victory over last year’s 2A runner-up Woodland represents a 48-point turnaround from last year’s 44-0 loss to the Bobcats. Even more impressive was that the victory came after the longest road trip taken by any team in the area, a 225-mile slog to eastern Alabama’s Randolph County.

But even a long road trip won’t change the fact that Linden has speed and big-play ability to burn, whether it’s Carlos and Maurice Tate in the defensive back seven or any of the three Richardsons–QB Darnell, WR Sean, or FB Marvin–on offense.

An eligibility issue meant that the Patriots finished 1-8 last season, but between the Woodland victory and the jamboree shutout of a John Essex team that registered its own big win this week, it’s clear Linden will have a lot to say about how ultra-rugged 1A Region 4 shakes out in 2005.

For the Marengo Academy Longhorns, being able to record any W after the sting of an 0-10 2004 season would feel pretty sweet. Do it against your biggest rival (West Alabama Prep) and it’s even sweeter. Do it by the score of 64-0 and, well, let’s just say there were a lot of happy Longhorns on the sideline last Thursday.

To be fair, it’s not time to crown the Longhorns state title contenders just yet, exactly–the Titans have little to offer in the way of either experience or depth (more on WAP in a second) and Marengo’s AISA 2A West regional schedule is about as brutal as Linden’s in AHSAA 1A Region 4.

But coach Jesse Little’s team appeared to have the timing on his patented veer offense down to near-perfection, and with 11 seniors committed to the squad–including the talented likes of QB Trey Lyles and offensive lineman Robbie Smith– it’s hard to see the Longhorn’s victory Thursday not being the first of several this season.

As for their opponent…

WAP players, coaches deserve kudos for effort

There will likely be a lot of casual observers who will glance at Thursday’s scoreline from the WAP-Marengo contest, recall that the Titans were in danger of not fielding a football team this year, and decide that maybe they would have been better off staying home. And there’s no question being down 43-0 at the half wasn’t what WAP’s supporters had in mind

But there won’t be one football game played this season where the scoreboard tells the entire story and it doesn’t this time, either. The scoreboard doesn’t talk about what it means to the WAP cheerleading squad to have a game to cheer at. It doesn’t mention the solidarity and unity having a football game to attend and a football team to cheer on gives the school’s parents, staff, and supporters. Most practically, it doesn’t mention the thousands and thousands of dollars WAP would have to shell out for canceling.

Perhaps most importantly, it doesn’t mention that the great majority of WAP’s players have never played high school football before. That WAP’s volunteer head coach has not coached high school football before. But they’re out there anyway, making an effort, because the school needs them and because they’d rather go out and compete than sit at home with a bag of chips watching MTV.

That’s worth congratulating them on, if you ask me, whatever the scoreboard says.

State champs flex muscle

All three of the area’s defending state titlists showed last Friday why many will expect them to repeat the feat in ’05.

Southern Academy was never threatened by new-look MMI and rolled to an easy victory. Sweet Water may have lost to Thomasville when time ran out on a potential game-tying drive, but show me another 1A team that could force Thomasville to score with 1:18 left to escape with their skins and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t know what the heck they’re talking about.

DHS’s 38-0 win over Sumter County might not have been quite the 62-0 demolition from 2004, but give the Tigers credit for applying pressure on the ground via Rock Jones and the big Tiger lines and eventually wearing the Wildcats down. The offensive line, in particular, seemed to grow in confidence and execute better as the game progressed. If that unit continues to build on that performance as the season advances, we could see plenty more huge games for Jones, Dontrell Miller, and the rest of the Tiger backfield.

Elsewhere…

1A Region 4 was as good as advertised on the season’s first weekend. Besides Linden’s victory and Sweet Water’s courage, John Essex showed tremendous heart in overturning a 13-0 first half deficit to knock off Marengo 28-19 behind backup quarterback Suran Allen; A.L. Johnson destroyed Keith 48-8 at home; and American Christian hung 62 on Coffeeville. That only one of those five plus a solid Sunshine team will make the playoffs doesn’t seem fair…Maybe no loss in the area was as disheartening as Livingston’s 38-6 road defeat to 2A Highland Home. Head coach Scottie Jones will need to get things turned around quickly or attention will shift to basketball season even sooner than usual…The area’s seven new head coaches took it on the chin in Week 1, with only Francis Marion’s LaCarlos Harvest notching a win in his debut. Harevst’s new-look offense put up 36 points on Sunshine in a 16-point home victory.