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Patriots look to stay unbeaten

Despite his team’s No. 4 state ranking and heavily-favored status going into tonight’s game against region foe Autaugaville (2-6, 2-5), Patriot head coach Andro Williams is not comfortable.

“We’re going to see a big and fast football team,” Williams said. “A lot of skill players that can play.”

Williams has seen film of nearly every Eagle game this season by virtue of the fact Autaugaville played almost every Patriot opponent the week before Linden did.

“They lost two games earlier in the season they shouldn’t have lost,” Williams said of a team whose talent he believes does not match up with its record.

“Their record definitely doesn’t indicate their talent,” Williams said. “I guarantee you if we don’t come to play, we will get it handed to us.”

Williams said his team is by no means ignorant of the fact that it has joined the ranks of the hunted in AHSAA 1A high school football. That status, he says, will have teams like Autaugaville looking to add a notch to their belts by knocking off an unbeaten Linden.

“We’ve just got to keep eminding ourselves of that,” Williams said. “We talked about the fact that we’re sitting here undefeated and that doesn’t mean a whole lot at this point in the season. Everybody is 0-0 in the playoffs.”

Williams said one of the greatest assets his team has is the maturity and leadership of its senior class.

“I’ve seen them grow up as individuals,” Williams said. “Their character has changed throughout this year. Their character and mentality has changed in even walking the hallways.”

Aside from leadership and character, Williams has received substantial on-field contributions from his seniors as well.

Senior fullback Maurice Tate has rushed for 1,294 yards and 29 touchdowns through eight games this season.

He also has one defensive touchdown.

Those numbers leave him second in AHSAA in rushing behind Jonathan Craig of Fultondale, according to Maxpreps.com.

His touchdown total, however, is nine better than Craig’s and good enough for tops on the list.

His backfield mate, Shantrell Braxton, has added 1,000 yards and 10 all-purpose touchdowns.

“Our mission is definitely not accomplished because we want to be playing in the last game in the state,” Williams said.

“But we’re still taking the on at a time.”