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Linden looks to ground Eagles

LINDEN — The Patriots (9-1) are not unfamiliar with their first round foe, Autaugaville (4-6). Prior to the last realignment by the Alabama High School Athletic Association, Linden and Autaugaville were region foes.

The latest tilt between the teams will come in the first round of the Class 1A state playoffs.

“They’re going to be fast and real physical,” Linden head coach Andro Williams said.

“They’ve got two running backs they’ll throw at you. N(DeMarcus Nixon) is the guy they want to get the ball in his hands. He’s a D-I prospect. We’re going to have to do a great job tackling.”

For the Eagles, that means contending with a Patriot team whose only loss of the season came on the road against Class 5A Gulf Shores.

“I feel like they’re focused on one game at a time,” Williams said.

“They just sort of go on about their business, go on about whatever they’ve got in front of them.”

Linden, which has outscored opponents 426-62 in 2011, enters game slightly banged up after a bruising regular season.

“We’re not full strength. I know that. We’ve got some questions right now. We’ve had six or seven starters in all that have had some problems over the course of this year with one ailment or another,” Williams said. “We’ve got to get well. It’s all we can do.”

Williams began the season with 29 players on his roster and will end it some time between now and Dec. 1 with a few less athletes than he had in August.

With a handful of regular players missing action here or there, Williams has required more versatility from his players, moving a handful of athletes to new positions for intervals. Jeremy Carr, who previously had not seen action with the starting group and rarely played anywhere on the defensive side of the ball, has logged snaps at linebacker and in the secondary.

Traditional starting strong safety Julian Little has moved around as needed for the Patriots and defensive lineman Kevon Rembert played offensive line for the first time in his high school career last Friday night against Brantley when he stepped in for injured offensive lineman Anthony Bates.

“We’ve had to respond well. We’ve definitely had to move people around, especially on the line, the offensive and defensive line,” Williams said.

“It’s pretty drastic on a kid when he’s starting one way and then he’s starting another way.

Those guys have really done a good job of adjusting to new positions. Our kids, they do whatever it takes to win and to help our football team.”