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Knights, Monroe Academy seek perfection


Jaevon Walton leads Tuscaloosa Academy’s wing-T offense with 988 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns in nine games. (Photo by Betsy Seymour)


TUSCALOOSA | The Tuscaloosa Academy football team wasn’t ranked when the AISA preseason poll came out in August. Now the Knights are one win away from a perfect regular season, but so is Monroe Academy.

The 9-0 Volunteers are ranked No. 2 and have already clinched the Class AAA Region 2 championship. No. 3 Tuscaloosa Academy (9-0) won the Region 1 title, earning the right to host a first-round playoff game next week.

"We’re trying to treat it like any other game," said Tuscaloosa Academy coach Robert Johnson, whose first Tuscaloosa Academy team went 9-2 last year. "It’s the next game we play. I just want us to play to our standards.

"It’s a big thing for our school, trying to get an undefeated season. I know which game is more important, but at the same time I hope I don’t have to choose. I certainly want us to stay healthy and injury-free."

If the Knights can win two playoff games, they’ll play for the state title in Troy on Nov. 16.

Tuscaloosa Academy’s standards include an offense that is averaging 46.7 points and 431.4 yards in total offense per game. The Knights have met every challenge by winning at home and on the road; by knocking off higher-ranked teams; and by overcoming the loss of key players. Torrence Brown, a starter on offense and defense, suffered a season-ending knee injury early in September.

With their wing-T offense, the Knights are averaging 301.8 yards rushing per game. Jaevon Walton is the leader with 988 yards and 20 touchdowns. Clay Thomas has 695 yards and four touchdowns. Jonathan Teesdale has 487 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Jonathan Plott is an efficient leader at quarterback, having completed 44 of 66 passes for 1,026 yards and 19 touchdowns with only two interceptions. Eleven players have caught at least one pass. Pride Snow has 12 receptions for 278 yards and four touchdowns. Parker Farley has 11 for 248 yards and seven touchdowns. Teesdale has nine catches for 204 yards and five touchdowns. Thomas has seven catches for 102 yards and a touchdown.

"The quarterback and running backs get the headlines when we score a touchdown, but I’m so proud of our offensive line," Johnson said.

Max Haley and Taylor White each got a start at center when Thomas Hahn was out. Johnson said Hahn underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and should be back tonight to play at center and nose guard.

Terrell Bush will play at left tackle with JD Diaz at left guard. Kwuan Whitfield will play at right guard with Haley at right tackle. White and Noah Johnson can rotate in on the offensive front, and Snow can be a blocker or receiver as a tight end.

Tuscaloosa Academy’s four-man defensive front usually includes Bush at end, Whitfield at tackle, Hahn at nose guard and Kyle Andrews at end. Snow can play an end position, and Haley provides depth as a tackle.

The Knights are allowing 12.2 points per game.

Robert Johnson said Monroe Academy uses a spread offense with Jake McKenzie at quarterback.

"He’ll be one of the best quarterbacks we’ve ever faced," Johnson said. "They have a quick line that’s very physical. They don’t mind blocking you low, drive-blocking or trapping or just sticking their nose in there.

"They haven’t had one close ballgame, and they’ve been able to beat some very good teams. They play a three-man defensive front, and they play more man-to-man (pass defense). Their front seven are very good, and they get the defensive backs involved in run support. What they do, they’re excellent at it."

 

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

 

Tonight’s AISA games

Both at 7 p.m.

 

Monroe Academy (9-0) at Tuscaloosa Academy (9-0)

Breakdown: Dillon Anderson scored on an interception return, and Tuscaloosa Academy allowed only 97 yards in a 42-7 victory over Kingwood Christian. Jaevon Walton rushed for 141 yards and two touchdowns. Jonathan Plott threw touchdown passes to Jonathan Teesdale and Carter Standeffer. Will Atkinson had a touchdown run. Monroe Academy beat Pike Liberal Arts 48-6.

Carroll’s prediction: Tuscaloosa Academy 34, Monroe Academy 24

 

Southern Academy (2-7) at Marengo Academy (5-4)

Breakdown: Shade Pritchett caught touchdown passes of 10, 15 and 19 yards from Tyler Barkley in Marengo Academy’s 37-12 win over Sumter Academy. Josh Holifield rushed for 195 yards and two touchdowns. Marengo Academy will host an AISA Class A playoff game. Southern Academy, which finishes its season tonight, lost to Escambia Academy 39-8 last week.

Carroll’s prediction: Marengo Academy 28, Southern Academy 18