Fayette County enjoying home-field advantage


Fayette County coach Lance Tucker and the Tigers take on W.S. Neal at home in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs (Photo by Jason Harless)


Coach Lance Tucker and his Fayette County Tigers are willing to be welcoming hosts up to a point.

For the second straight week, Fayette County has the home-field advantage for the AHSAA Class 3A playoffs. W.S. Neal, which defeated Slocomb 66-24 last week, has to haul all the way up from East Brewton.

"We are thankful to be playing at home," Tucker said. "The kids worked hard all year to have the home-field advantage. That’s a compliment to our kids.

"Any time you have to ride four hours it’s tough on people. Hopefully, it will be an advantage because they’re bringing a great football team up here."

W.S. Neal’s losses were to Straughn and Opp, but the Blue Eagles posted a 34-26 victory over their main rival, T.R. Miller of Brewton,

"They just lined up and physically whipped T.R. Miller," Tucker said. "They like to line up with two tight end and snap the ball to the quarterback in the shotgun. It’s sort of a wildcat formation with two or three guys who can carry the ball. They’re twice the size we are. They try to keep the ball between the tackles. It’s like they just line up and say, ‘Here we come.’"

Linebacker Darnell Williams leads the Tigers with 64 tackles. Daniel Dixon will play at end or linebacker. Davontae Sparks is a defensive tackle.

Fayette County’s offense is directed by quarterback Marcellus Redmond, who ran for three touchdowns and threw for another in last week’s 35-16 win over B.B. Comer. Kyle Nalls leads the Tigers with 536 yards rushing and eight touchdowns.

"I don’t know how good a team we are, but we are as deep a team as we’ve in Fayette in a while," Tucker said. "We’ve got several kids who are all about the same skill-wise."

Tevin Madison and Trae Madison could get some carries, or they could line up at wide receiver. Tevin Madison has 43 catches for 825 yards and 11 touchdown. Trae Madison has 19 catches for 244 yards, and tight end Chris Swanigan has 11 catches.

Class 6A

Tuscaloosa County, which started the Class 6A playoffs at home with a 38-28 victory over Gardendale, will travel to face Clay-Chalkville, which was ranked No. 2 in the preseason poll. The Cougars, who lost only to Huntsville (21-20) were No. 5 in the final poll. TCHS was ranked No. 8

"They’re loaded with talent like Hoover," said TCHS coach Lee Gibson. "They’re one of those teams that at any moment can take it 80 yards. If they get a turnover on defense, they’ve got the skill to return it for a touchdown. Across the board, they’re probably the most athletic team we’ve seen."

Clay-Chalkville beat Decatur 45-14 in the first round.

"They do a lot of different things," Gibson said. "They get it to as many people as possible. They’ve got some skill guys on the perimeter. Their quarterback (Hayden Moore) is probably as good a runner as anybody we’ve seen. They’re one of those teams that gives you nightmares to prepare for."

The TCHS defense is led by linebacker Ted Colburn, who has 100 tackles. Jimmie Maddox has accounted for 65 stops. Hunter Jenkins and JaMarion Sanders have 52 tackles each. Terance Leatherwood, who has 45 tackles, leads the Wildcats with eight sacks. Jenkins has six. Lucas Webb leads with four interceptions and has scored two touchdowns on returns. Webb is a safety, and Leon Tucker is a cornerback.

"You can just name kid after kid who’s stepped up and done something for us throughout the year," Gibson said.

Gardendale hit TCHS with a 94-yard kickoff return and a touchdown pass, but the Wildcats rallied behind quarterback Tyler Gates and led 28-14 at halftime. Gates finished with three touchdown passes.

Class 5A

The Demopolis Tigers romped to a 49-20 win over Sylacauga in the Class 5A playoffs, but traveling to face No. 4 Spanish Fort creates a different set of hazards.

Demopolis coach Tom Causey knows the Toros have wins over Daphne and Fairhope, two Class 6A teams that are still in the playoffs. Joel Poe is a veteran quarterback, and cornerback Jonathan Cook has committed to Nebraska.

"They’ve got a group of receivers who run great routes," Causey said. "It’s going to be a challenge for us. Our defense is pretty confident. We got our cage rattled a little bit a couple of weeks back by Jackson (a 34-7 winner). I don’t think it was missed assignments as much as bad angles. We’re still working hard and getting better. I like the way the defense is playing."

Tyrelle Barnett, an outside linebacker, scored on a fumble return and an interception return against Sylacauga. Causey said the scores were "a product of practice." On the fumble return, the quarterback’s first target was covered, giving Tyler Merriweather time to sack him and cause the turnover. Causey said Barnett recognized a formation intended for a screen pass and "jumped it" to make the interception.

"It comes back to preparation and guys being where they’re supposed to be and playing the game at full speed," Causey said. "We have to have that Friday night."

"Wesley is kind of like the quarterback for our defense," Causey said. "He gets everybody lined up."

 

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