Linden fired up to face undefeated Autaugaville

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 4, 2005

On paper, the Linden Patriots’ return to the playoffs after their 1-9 2004 will be a short one. They will go on the road to face Autaugaville, an undefeated team ranked fourth in the state and the champions of rugged 1A Region 3.

But as coach Luther Davis points out, they don’t play games on paper.

“If they’re 10-0, they did something right,” says Davis, “But we feel like they haven’t been hit hard. We’ve got to come out and hit them.”

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That’s one thing Linden has done well during their 7-3 season and fourth-place finish in even-more-rugged Region 4. Linebackers Maurice Tate and Carlos Tate, defensive end Marcus Catlin, and defensive tackles Jon Anthony and Jonathan Tate have been hitting all year.

But they might have a harder time finding a ball-carrier to hit this week. Autaugaville runs the veer offense, a running scheme predicated on misdirection and concealment. And as their 10-0 record would attest, they run it well, with Davis especially concerned about containing Eagle running back J.J. Motley.

“He’s a good running back. We can’t let him get outside, or it’s good-bye,” Davis says. “He’s a good athlete. Their quarterback [Xavier Carroll] is a good athlete…we’ve worked on a new defensive scheme and we’re hoping that’ll work.”

The Patriot offense is undergoing something of a change as well. Davis said sophomore Jared Jackson will start the game at quarterback, replacing junior Darnell Richardson. But Davis says Richardson is too talented to stay on the bench and will see plenty of action at the tight end position. With Darnell’s brother Sean at receiver, Catlin as a second tight end, and other talented wideouts like John Lankster and Christopher Martin, Jackson will have more than enough targets to choose from

“He’s a very talented athlete,” Davis says of Darnell Richardson. “We’re going to have him at tight end and see what the situation brings us.”

For all the receiving talent, Linden will also run the ball with Marvin Richardson, Carlos Tate, and Martin.

“[The Eagles] like to play man-to-man,” Davis says, “so hopefully we’ll match up pretty good.”

With the previous season’s troubles behind the program and the Patriots coming off of a 68-6 rout of Coffeeville in the season finale, Davis says his team is fired up to take on the Eagles.

“They’re very excited. We’ve had good practices this week,” he says. “Last year was very emotional and in the off-season they said ‘We’re going to step up. We want to go to Birmingham.’ They’re enthusiastic, they’ve been hustling … they’re just ready to play.”