Local rivals face off in eight-man football


Tuscaloosa Christian’s Gabe Foster and the Warriors dropped their season opener last week to Tabernacle Christian. The Warriors face city rival North River Christian tonight. (Photo by Natalie Nichols)


TUSCALOOSA | Hunter Christian, head football coach at Tuscaloosa Christian, extended an invitation to his counterpart at North River Christian Academy.

Christian used to have breakfast with former North River Christian coach John Teasley on the day their eight-man football teams met in their annual rivalry game.

"We recognized when it was a good rivalry and when it was becoming unhealthy, so that was something we would do to keep it light," Christian said.

North River Christian has a new head coach in Kevin Boswell, who said Thursday that he wasn’t sure if he could make it for breakfast.

"I’d love to do it, but I’m working a full-time job and coaching too," said Boswell. "It starts early, and it’s a never-ending day."

Both teams lost in their openers last week, but that won’t matter much tonight when the Warriors take on North River Christian at Sokol Park.

"The players know each other by name and talk to each other on the Internet," Christian said. "It does add a little bit more to it when you know the opponents’ names."

Tuscaloosa Christian is coming off a 44-20 road loss to Tabernacle Christian, the defending champion in the Christian Football Association. North River Christian lost to Evangel Christian 62-0 in Montevallo.

Boswell said his team has had a positive week of practice.

"I think they’re upbeat and ready to go," Boswell said. "That game is in the past, and we’re not dwelling on it. We want to concentrate on the next one and be ready to play. Our players know this is a big-time rivalry. All that did last week was motivate them even more.

"We had to start somewhere. We figured out where our weaknesses were and tried to get some folks shifted around. We worked on blocking, finishing our plays out and ball security."

The Chargers fumbled five times and lost three.

"Hopefully, we will not have any more of those," Boswell said.

Jeremiah Cousette could be a big factor for the Chargers on offense and defense. Boswell said Cousette stood out on one particular run as he managed to gain ground, despite having six or seven tacklers draped all over him.

"They’re much bigger," Christian said. "They have a man of a tailback (Cousette). He was a great player for them last year. We’ve been working on getting a lot of players on the tackle just to bring that big man down."

Tuscaloosa Christian’s first touchdown came on a 70-yard kickoff return by Freedom Woods. Quarterback Jordan threw a touchdown pass to Calloway Newman and one to Boyd Banks.

"Boyd Banks (fullback) and Calloway Newman (wide receiver) really shined last week," Christian said. "Both of those guys made great catches and big plays late in the game and just showed a lot of heart. When it would have been easy just to mail that one in, they kept fighting."

Tabernacle Christian led 36-6 at halftime.

"Last week we lost the game in the first half," Christian said. "We played a great second half. If we would have played the first two quarters like we did the fourth quarter we would have been all right. We’ve been working on our intensity, keeping it fast-paced from the very minute of practice this week."

 

Reach Andrew Carroll at andrew.carroll@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0223.