Friday Night Rewind: How they got there

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 26, 2005

As Rick Bragg said, it’s all over but the shoutin’. At least as far as playoff qualification in the area goes, anyway.

The only questions left to be answered are who the 4A Region 4 teams (Demopolis and Greensboro) and Southern Academy (AISA 1A West champs) will play in two weeks. But we know who’s in, we know who’s out, and we know how they did it. So here’s a team-by-team look at which area teams have qualified for the postseason, and why:


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Qualified in: First place, 4A Region 4

How: A little bit of everything, but first-and-foremost by making their opponents’ running game about as effective as a bubble-wrap helmet. DHS’s 2005 opponents have averaged 1.2 yards a carry and less than 40 yards a game on the ground, forcing them into the passing game. And with DHS’s Ezell Braxton (10.5 sacks) and ballhawking secondary (21 interceptions) lying in wait, going to the air is usually an open invitation for the Tigers to pull off another big play.

Will face: TBD


Q’d in: Third place, 4A Region 4

How: Like the guy in the Under Armor commercial says–by protecting…their…house. The Raiders were wobbly on the road (a 20-8 loss in Eutaw to Greene County remains one of two wins on the season for the Tigers) but got big fourth-quarter plays by their defense to edge Southside 18-12 and Bibb Co. 14-12 at home. Those two wins made the difference between a second straight losing season and a return to the playoffs.

Will face: TBD

Sweet Water

Q’d in: Second place, 1A Region 4

How: With the strongest running game this side of Tom Osborne’s Nebraska. No 1A team on Sweet Water’s schedule yet has been able to hold Landrum, Holt, Lockett, and Co. under 40 points. A defense with guys like Deon Williams and Travion Lockett is always going to be pretty good, too.

Will face: Maplesville

John Essex

Q’d in: Third place, 1A Region 4

How: Guts. Essex has just about the thinnest roster of any team in the area, and somehow–even when they go into overtime, as they did in defeating Linden 22-20–it doesn’t seem to matter. RB/LBs Chris Jones and Darnell Edwards, tackle Robert Parker, and QB/WRs Suran Allen and Keniote Phillips play virtually every snap of every game. Good thing they’re really good.

Will face: Loachapoka


Q’d in: Fourth place, 1A Region 4

How: One massive victory last Friday. Down 9-0 to A.L. Johnson at halftime with only the winner advancing to the postseason, the Patriots’ punishing ground game scored two TDs for a 14-9 win.

Will face: Autaugaville.


Q’d in: Third place, 1A Region 1

How: Rally caps? The Panthers trailed J.F. Shields by 12 and J.U. Blacksher by nine and rallied to win both games behind first-year coach Travis Carswell’s explosive new offense. Things haven’t gone as smoothly in the second half of the season for the Panthers–3-1 has become 4-5–but as they showed in winning their two biggest games of the season, they know how to bounce back.

Will face: Florala

Southern Acad.

Q’d in: First place, AISA 1A West

How: By being just plain more physical than anyone else on their schedule. The Cougars aren’t trying anything fancy–Wallace Drury up-the-middle, Drury off-tackle, Drury on the sweep. But Shaun Bonds’s team is so well-drilled and so smash-mouth up front that even teams that might be a tad bigger (Shelby) or more dynamic offensively (Patrician) end up on the losing end.

Will face: Winner of this week’s Crenshaw-Chambers matchup.

Sumter Acad.

Q’d in: Fourth place, AISA 1A West

How: Embracing diversity. In Matt Boler, Caine Conway, Hunter Spidle, Joseph Reed, and Patrick Castleman, Sumter has plenty of offensive weapons and Bob Taylor has used all of them in fashioning a 4-3 regional record.

Will Face: Autauga Acad.

A touchdown’s worth of quick points from last week:

1. What at a glance looks like an ugly situation at West Alabama Prep–volunteer coach goes 0-8, resigns with two games remaining in season–isn’t nearly that ugly. Marshall Murphy and WAP agreed he’d be the Titans’ head football coach this season. When the team struggled, Murphy and WAP agreed things would be better if he resigned. The two sides made a decision, it didn’t work out, and now they’re both amicably moving on. Where’s the problem?

2. Yet another goal-line stand this week from the Demopolis defense, turning away Greene Co. after they had first-and-goal from inside the 2. GCHS, Greensboro, Southside, Northridge, and Bibb Co. have all had first-and-goals vs. DHS and come away empty-handed.

3. Kudos to Greensboro, who didn’t totally “solve” their early-season road struggles on trips to Dallas Co. and Livingston the last two weeks, but made the plays they had to to go 2-0 and clinch a winning season.

4. Credit goes to the Linden coaching staff for finding backup quarterback Jared Jackson in mid-season. Jackson ran for a score and threw for a two-point conversion in the Patriots’ rally past Johnson and nearly pulled off a similar comeback vs. John Essex. Could the Patriots use massively talented and athletic starter Richardson and Jackson on the field at the same time?

5. How much will Southern Academy fans get to crow if Patrician goes on to win the AISA 2A crown? It’s harder than ever to argue that the Cougars aren’t the best team outside of AISA’s 3A

6. After blasting Central-Hayneville by 30, Sumter County has now gotten off the 1-6 deck to win their last two and could double last year’s win total with a win over Livingston this week.