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Brookwood, Paul W. Bryant searching for first win

Paul W. Bryant High School running back Joe Freeman (3) cuts behind the block by teammate Dylan Jones (61) during the Stampede’s game against Brookwood last season. Bryant won, 33-0. (Photo by Michelle Lepianka Carter)

TUSCALOOSA | The Paul W. Bryant Stampede and the Brookwood Panthers won’t be at full strength in tonight’s Class 5A, Region 5 game, but both teams are hungry for a win.

Quality depth could be a factor since both teams have been riddled with injuries. Nate Craft, a receiver, defensive back and team leader for Brookwood (1-1), is expected to sit out because of a foot injury. The Panthers opened with a win over Hale County, but Craft missed last week’s 39-8 loss to Fairfield.

"It’s tough having to replace him because of all the things he brings to our team," Brookwood coach Ricky Bush said. "That’s why it’s a team sport. You want kids to be able to step up when it’s their opportunity. We tell them that on every play do the job you’re supposed to do. If we can get that accomplished, we’ll have a chance to get better each week."

Paul W. Bryant (0-2) started with a loss to Pelham. Linemen Jalen Samuel and Moses Mason were injured in last week’s 48-10 loss to McAdory, and coach Errol Jones said they won’t play tonight. Conner Huggins and Jordan Stines are expected to fill in on the line.

"What I tell them is that on every play you’re only an injury away," Jones said. "Therefore, if you’re a young guy you need to pay attention because you never know when your number is going to be called.

"We’re not going to use injuries as an excuse. The morale of this team is still pretty good. We’re not down or depressed. We’re not putting a whole lot of emphasis on this game from the standpoint that it’s a must-win situation. What I am stressing is that it’s important that we come out and play better than we have been playing and try to put four quarters together."

Joe Pradat will start at quarterback for the Stampede with Joe Freeman and Tyler Slayton sharing the rushing duties. Jones said Tionne Wilder is the team’s leading receiver.

"We want to be able to throw it when we want to throw it and run it when we want to run it," Jones said.

"Unfortunately, we’ve gotten behind and had to get away from our game plan. We’ve had to throw the ball more than we anticipated, and that kind of makes us one-dimensional."

Jones said his leaders on the defensive side of the ball are end JaDarius Ceasar and cornerback Davon Lucious.

Bush said he’s concerned about the Stampede’s offensive potential.

"They’ve got a really good quarterback and a very talented group of receivers," Bush said. "Any time they can catch the ball in space, it could be a big problem."

Brookwood’s Justin Carter scored on a 27-yard run against Fairfield. Carter is an end and outside linebacker for the Brookwood defense.

"Justin Carter will have to carry a big load on both sides of the ball," Bush said. "We move him around on defense. Spencer Hill has played really well for us at linebacker.

"We have a lot of 10th-graders and ninth-graders we’re counting on to do some big things. We’ll be extremely young in places. I just hope our young men will be able to grow up faster this week than you’d normally expect a 10th-grader or a ninth-grader to do."

Seth Franks will start at quarterback for the Panthers.

"We’re looking for Seth to manage the game from start to finish," Bush said. "That’s going to be a key factor in the ballgame."

Brookwood running back Anthony McCostlin injured a shoulder against Brookwood, but Bush is expecting him to play.

"Based on what I saw on film, in the last game they got behind and had to throw the ball," Jones said. "Their quarterback is a good athlete. Their tailback and fullback run hard. They remind me of some backs I coached in college. They run behind their pads, and one man is not going to be able to bring them down. We’ve got to be ready to gang-tackle them.

"We’ve got our work cut out for us. They’re not going to roll over and just give us the game. I think both teams are evenly matched. It should be a real good game."


Reach Andrew Carroll at or at 205-722-0223.