Longhorns face big challenge in AISA playoffs

Marengo Academy doesn’t have any senior starters on its football team, which travels to face Restoration Academy tonight in the second round of the AISA Class A playoffs.

The Longhorns don’t have any seniors at all, but they were resilient enough to survive in the first round. Brant Lewis’ 23-yard field goal in the fourth quarter provided the winning margin in a 15-13 victory over Abbeville Christian Academy.

"They had a great offensive football team, but I thought our defense played well," said Marengo Academy coach Robby James. "We ended up picking off a couple of passes. The offense did a good job to get a couple of scores, and a field goal ended up winning the game.

"I think we’ve been getting better each game. We’ve been pretty much mistake-free the last three our four games. The kids have worked real hard to get to the second round of the playoffs, and they’re excited about that. The next step is to get to Troy (for the championship game), and they’re excited about that. They’ll be up for the game.

Restoration Academy defeated Sparta Academy 49-14 in the first round. The Bulldogs’ only loss was a 47-7 setback against Class AAA Tuscaloosa Academy on Sept. 21.

"They have a lot skill people and a lot of speed," James said. "They’re a little faster than we are. We’re a little bit smaller than they are, but it’s been that way all year. They have a good fullback, and their quarterback is very elusive. They like to run the jet sweeps, and they throw the ball pretty well too.

"We’re going to have to try to control the ball as much as we can and try to get an early lead and play with that. We want to be able to use the clock and make some drives and keep the ball away from them. We’ll take an 80-yard run if we can get it, but normally we’re trying to get first downs."

James said defensive back Hayden Huckabee and linebackers Thomas Etheridge, Hayden Hall and Carson Huckabee played well in last week’s win. Hall had eight tackles and two assists. Carson Huckabee had seven tackles and two assists.

Hayden Huckabee leads the Longhorns with 1,016 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. He scored on runs of 21 and 80 yards against Abbeville Christian. Josh Holifield has 875 yards and eight touchdowns.

"Those two guys have carried us through the year," James said. "They’ll certainly play a big part if we can beat this bunch."

Sophomore Tyler Barkley starts at quarterback and at safety.

"He does a good job of running our offense," James said. "He might keep it now and then and make a big play, but his job is to make sure that we’re lined up in the proper place and executing the play the way we want it."


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