From the Sidelines: Top 10 reasons to see Sunshine host Linden

Published 11:33 pm Tuesday, October 7, 2008

This week offers up a rare opportunity for Sunshine High School, the community of Newbern and the Black Belt as a whole. The folks from Saatchi and Saatchi are in town putting together the material for Sunshine’s Toyota Line of Scrimmage spots that will air in two parts during halftime of NBC’s Sunday Night Fooball on Nov. 30 and Dec. 7.

The national attention puts a whole new spin on a rivalry game that typically carries with it regional implications. So, without further adieu, here are the Top 10 reasons, counted down in true David Letterman fashion, to attend Friday night’s clash between Sunshine and Linden.

10. Demopolis is out of town. And the game is a long way off. If you are a true blue Demopolis fan who is planning to make the trip to Monroeville, by all means do it. Your boys have played hard and deserve the support. However, if work or whatever else prevents you from going to see the Tigers move to 3-1 in the region and you just have to scratch that Friday night football itch, there is no better game for you than Sunshine and Linden.

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9. Linden bested Maplesville 34-0 for a reason. This team is the real deal. They carry an unblemished record into Newbern to face a regional rival that has victories over the Patriots in two of the last four years.

8. Maurice Tate and Shantrell Braxton are as legitimate of a backfield combination as there is anywhere in the state. Braxton has 815 yards rushing and five touchdowns through six games thus far this season. Those numbers are remarkable and bested only by Tate’s tally of 1,060 and 23 touchdowns.

7. The Jermaine Hood to Dayton Mickens connection is a must-see. Hood, who pushes the five-and-half foot mark, from Sunshine’s quarterback spot will undoubtedly look to hook up with 6-foot-8 wideout Mickens at some point on the night. If the senior signal caller is successful, dial up six points on the scoreboard for Sunshine.

6. The anonymous offensive line of Linden has emerged as a solid group this season despite featuring five new starters from tackle to tackle.

5. The Newbern night life, while exciting in its own right, offers little to compare with what should be a hard-hitting football game.

4. Shaun McCalpine is an absolute burner. If the Sunshine back gets the ball into the open field at any point, just pull out a stop watch and clock how long it takes him to take it to the house. The track star has legitimate 4.4 speed and an undeniable swagger.

3. Nathaniel Zinnerman will leave his heart on the field. The senior plays linebacker and tight end while handling the punting duties for Sunshine. Whether his team is up by three or down by 30, he will play sideline to sideline until the final whistle blows.

2. The nature of the Linden-Sunshine rivalry dictates that, despite the disparity in record, this game could easily be a one-possession contest. Each team features a handful of players who maintain strong relationships with this week’s adversaries. Moreover, Sunshine head coach Jonathan Jenkins is a Linden High alumnus who also spent seven years as a coach at his alma mater.

1. This is a very nice moment for the Black Belt. In addition to the positive publicity that will be drawn to Sunshine High and the town of Newbern, the region will receive its fair share of pop from the spot that will feature two area schools. Additionally, the relationship between the two head coaches, Jenkins and Andro Williams, is one of professional and personal admiration and respect. The sportsmanship they show toward one another will permeate the atmosphere, making for a classy high school football game.