Aliceville faces Sweet Water in second round


Aliceville coach Charles Moody and the Yellow Jackets face Sweet Water in the second round of the Class 2A playoffs. (Photo by Michelle Lepianka Carter)


The Sweet Water Bulldogs have built a dynasty worthy of their own Two-A-Days television special. In the last 11 seasons, the Bulldogs have been kept from a region championship only four times and have won five AHSAA Class 2A state championships in that span.

Since 2000, the Bulldogs have compiled a 125-43 record, 80 of those wins coming when Sweet Water has allowed less than 10 points. Now, the Aliceville Yellow Jackets stand in the way of another deep playoff run.

"Everyone in the state knows who Sweet Water is," Aliceville coach Charles Moody said.

Moody’s players are no different, as he is counting on leaders such as Gerald Sterling, Jeremy McMullen, Victor Windham and Joe Robinson to continue the, "leadership by committee," Moody has benefitted from all season.

Moody will be counting on Sterling to lead the defensive line. They have what Moody described as a "tall order" in the Sweet Water offensive line.

"Gerald is a big-time ballplayer," Moody said. "When he comes to play, he can be a game-changer for us.

"We’re hoping to get a good performance from everyone on the defensive line, but he’s the leader."

Moody is also counting on a strong showing from his offensive line: center Victor Windham, right guard Isiaih Wilder, Anthony Jones, tackle Wesley Little and tackle Demitrious Bell.

"They stunt, they slant, they blitz," Moody said. "We’ve got to keep our heads up and follow our rules."

Berry’s time is now

Timing, in everything imaginable, is crucial, but nowhere is it more critical than to Berry’s football team. Running back Terrance "Tank" Hollingsworth ran for 169 yards and one touchdown on the ground in addition to a 3-yard touchdown reception in the 28-8 win over Addison in the first round of the AHSAA Class 1A playoffs, despite a shoulder injury.

With a second-round test against Hackleburg tonight, Berry coach Danny Raines said Hollingsworth is "the healthiest he’s been in a while.

"He’s a phenomenal talent," Raines said. "He does a lot for our team. We hate that he’s battled through injuries this year, but we’re glad he’s healthy in time for the playoffs.

"He’s a tough kid, he plays hard. He really lays it all out there for us every night."

Hollingsworth and the Wildcats will attempt to make school history by advancing beyond the second round of the playoffs with a win over No. 7 Hackleburg.

"Everybody’s well-aware of that," Raines said. "It’s a really focused group that’s looking forward to the challenge (tonight)."

Raines pointed out seniors linebacker/fullback Clancy Brown, offensive and defensive lineman Zac Pasley, Maken Potter, wide receiver/defensive back Luke Sanford and tight end/defensive back J.C. Finch as driving forces for the potentially historic team.

"I’m really blessed to be working with them," Raines said. "They’ve really provided some great leadership."

Hitting the road

Part of the playoff experience is going on the road to cities that are far off the beaten path for schools that remain in the same region for many years.

Lamar County’s upcoming trip from Vernon to Skipperville, a five-hour, roughly 250 mile voyage, is a little more than the Bulldogs were hoping for, but one Lamar County coach Ken Adams hopes to return from with more than a win.

"It’s a great experience for our young guys to know how to travel," Adams said.

Adams is confident in his team’s road warrior mentality, having already traveled to South Lamar, Hale County and Marion and left with wins, plus a near-win on the road against Berry.

The key for Adams is to try to make the longer trip as routine as possible, making all the usual stops, except for the 10:30 a.m. departure.

"We’ll be eating at 3, when we normally eat," Adams said. "Getting on the field at 5:30. We’re trying to keep everything as it ususally is.

"Riding on the bus that long is going to be tough for them."

Not only does Lamar County’s (8-3) previous road success help it in tonight’s game at G.W. Long, but the Bulldogs feel like they could very easily have the same record as Long (10-1).

"We let a couple of games go the other way," Adams said. "A play or two and we’re sitting here with the same record."

But now, the Bulldogs will be traveling to Skipperville as the underdogs to a demanding team.

"We need to play well defensively," Adams said.

Adams is counting on linebackers Tyler Sprouse, Alex Wheeer, Ryan Barham and Briggs Roberts to stop Long’s multiple offensive scheme.

"They like to try to get you out on an island," Adams said. "We need our interior linebackers to do a good job and our outside linebackers have to contain. Our defensive line has to squeeze the gaps. If we can get them running downhill, we’ll be OK."

Dillard, Lions

not done yet

Hubbertville has many reasons to be happy with what it has accomplished, having won its last four games, three of which were either region or playoff games, by an average of 20 points per win, and punching a ticket to the second round in the process.

Not quite, Hubbertville coach Lamar Harris said.

"We feel good about what we’ve done," Harris said. "We realize we have to rebound every week because every team still playing is very good."

This week’s rebound test will be against Spring Garden, a game that may look like the same team running an intrasquad scrimmage.

"They’re very similar to us, their philosophy is a lot like ours," Harris said. "They’re not going to throw it very much. They are a good, hard-nosed team like we try to be."

While some teams struggle to defend that style of offense, Harris is liking his odds.

"We struggle against those speed teams," Harris said. "We can’t give up big plays. We want to make them drive and find a way to stop them somehow along the way."

Spring Garden will have to do the same, but with the addition of Hubbertville’s Aaron Dillard. Dillard ran for 269 yards and scored six touchdowns in the first round against Ragland, also contributing 12 tackles, two of them for a loss.

"He had a really special game," Harris said. "He’s been our go-to guy for a couple of years now.

"He carried it 40 times last week, which is too much, but we felt like we had to and he responded well."

His response has spurred a positive response for the entire team to take and run with.

"We all have. We feed off of each other," Harris said. "The guys on the line, they see him whipping off the big runs and they’re fired up for the next play."

A handful

in Montgomery

The most recent trend has penetrated the high school arena, as the offense was the figurative talk of the town after Linden’s 39-7 win in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs over Kinston, in which the Patriots ran for 385 yards.

Now the focus shifts to the defense for the second- round matchup with St. Jude.

"They’re a dangerous football team," Linden coach Andro Williams said of St. Jude.

"They bring about four guys that can break a big play at any given time."

It is not an impossible task, as St. Jude’s offense can be contained.

The Pirates have scored only 19 points on two occassions and was held to 20 twice more, all four games resulting in losses.

"We have to make sure we take the right angles and make sure we do a great job containing their speed," Williams said.

However, the Pirates have torched opponents to the tune of 52, 49, 48 and 46 points in wins.

"We know we’re going to have our hands full," Williams said. "They can score points in a hurry."

But, of course, there is a plan.

"We’re going to mix it up, make them throw it into our coverage,"

Williams said. "All of our defensive backs need to play smart.

"We have to be playing great defense at this point in the season to have a chance to win."

The Patriot offense is not immune to St. Jude’s pressure, as it will feel a force of its own.

"We have to do a great job of holding our blocks," Williams said.

"They blitz every single play. They’ll have nine or 10 in the box with consistency."

Linden’s starting offensive line — Dewayne Gilmore, Chris Rogers, Eric Monroe, Jalen Bell and Tyler Davis — will have to adapt, quickly.

"We see a lot of crazy stuff in our region, but this is unusual," Williams said. "You don’t know where they’re coming from.

"We’ve got to have perserverance to keep doing what we do."

Pickens County

hitting the road

The Pickens County Tornadoes are taking their explosive show on the road to face Cedar Bluff in the second round of the Class 1A playoffs. The Tornadoes have scored 49 points or more in two of their last three games and have scored less than 25 points only once this season.

The emphasis this week, however, will be defensively, as Pickens County coach Patrick Plott has his eyes on the unit that allows just 13.81 points per game, and 6.5 points in the last two games.

"They have a good mixture of run and pass in the spread," Plott said.

"We have to be able to match up with their wide receivers."

Plott is leaning on Devonte Simon to anchor the defense against the prolific Cedar Bluff offense, which has scored less than 40 points only once this season and scored 54 points in the opening round win over Phillips.

"He’s been playing great defense for us all season," Plott said.

Plott noted Simon has been a force for the Tornadoes on the practice field, as well, ensuring his teammates are prepared for the Tigers.

"All week this week, he’s been more outspoken, getting on to guys and making sure they’re in the right place," Plott said. "He’s vocal, but not as vocal."

Plott also hopes to see Terrien Steele, William Stewart, Jamarcus Smith and Malek Steele on the defensive line focus on stopping Cedar Bluff’s run game.

"We need the front to play well," Plott said.