Coach’s son provides a boost for Fayette County win


Fayette County quarterback Marcellus Redmond scored the first touchdown last Friday on a 45-yard run in a 34-6 Class 3A playoff win over W.S. Neal. The Tigers scored with an offensive formation suggested by Walt Tucker, the 10-year-old son of head coach Lance Tucker. (Photo by Jason Harless)


Football is a family affair at Fayette County High School, where Lance Tucker is the head coach. Even Walt, Tucker’s 10-year-old son, gets in on the act.

Last Thursday, the younger Tucker had already said his prayers and was getting ready for bed when he presented an idea to his father. Walt drew up a play that featured an unbalanced-line formation to give Fayette County a blocking advantage. The Tigers used it their 34-6 Class 3A playoff win against W.S. Neal.

"He’s grown up in it just like the rest of the family, and he’s been able to catch on to some things," said Lance, who got his players together and installed the new formation around noon on Friday. "He said, ‘Dad, you’ve go to look at this. You’ve got to run it Friday.’ I got to looking at it, and I thought it would work. I called my dad and Luke. I thought if we came in this formation early, they might not recognize it and adjust to it."

Lance was a quarterback at Fayette County when his father, Waldon, was the head coach. Waldon, who developed some innovative offenses, retired after the 2010 season as the winningest coach in Alabama high school football history. Lance, who had helped his father out as an assistant coach, spent one season as Sipsey Valley’s first head coach before returning to Fayette County. Waldon is still on the staff as the offensive coordinator. Luke, Lance’s younger brother, also played quarterback for the Tigers. He coaches the defensive backs and wide receivers.

Lance said his team hadn’t used an unbalanced line all season. The first play resulted in a gain of about 15 yards by tailback Kyle Nalls. On the second play, quarterback Marcellus Redmond ran for a 45-yard touchdown.

"It gave us more blockers than they had defenders," Lance said. "We just put a hat on a hat, and Marcellus made a play.

"The kids got a big kick out of it. The players thought it was great. They were giving Walt high fives. When we scored, I think everybody gave Walt a big hug. It was fortunate for us that it worked. Any time you can get up 7-0 in a big playoff game, it gives the kids a little spark and a little energy. It definitely played a factor. It was just one of those things that ends up being great for everybody."

Fayette County (10-2) continues its playoff run Friday with a game at Leeds (11-1).

"I’m hoping and praying that (Walt) comes up with something this week," Lance said.

Lamar County loses assistant coach

The Lamar County football players, who travel to face Sweet Water Friday in the Class 2A playoffs, have experienced what head coach Ken Adams called an "emotional roller coaster."

Lamar County made a round trip of about 10 hours to Skipperville and beat G.W. Long 41-19 on Friday. On Saturday, assistant coach Don Thornton passed away. Adams said the 65-year-old Thornton, who coached the offensive and defensive linemen for five seasons, may have died of a heart attack.

"He was one of those guys that football was in his blood," Adams said. "He had retired, but he sacrificed a lot to come and work with these guys. He had a great influence’s on me for five years as well as the kids he’s coached.

"We found out Saturday, and then we had a team meeting at 2 p.m. Sunday. I told them the only thing we would do was show respect for the family and try to make a plan for the week."

Adams said the players went to a visitation Monday after practice and attended the funeral on Tuesday.

"Coach Thornton’s family is in their thoughts," Adams said. "I was very proud of them."

Adams said Sweet Water officials plan to have a ceremony before Friday’s game to honor Thornton and to present a football to his wife.

"That shows a lot of class and shows the brotherhood that coaches have," Adams said. "They know when somebody else is hurting, and they try to pick us up. I appreciate that very much."

Tuscaloosa Christian honors senior scorer

Tyler Foust, a senior point guard, was honored before Monday’s game as the Tuscaloosa Christian boys basketball team kicked off a new season.

Foust, who scored 21 points in a loss to Tuscaloosa Academy, received a souvenir basketball from head coach Danny Lancaster.

Lancaster said he wanted to honor Foust for scoring more than 1,000 points in his career. Foust scored 27 points in a playoff game last season to reach the milestone.

Lancaster, Tuscaloosa Christian’s all-time leading scorer with more than 2,000 points, said he used to teach Foust in a Sunday School class for 4- and 5-year-olds at Cottondale Baptist Church. When Lancaster played at Tennessee Temple University, Foust would go to Birmingham to watch him in games against Samford.

"He’s very humble, very unassuming," Lancaster said. "That kind of stuff probably makes him a little uncomfortable, but I think it had to be moving for him. He appreciates a slap on the back."

Foust joined the Tuscaloosa Christian varsity as a freshman.

"It meant a lot," he said. "I’d like to thank Coach Lancaster for what he did. It was cool to get that. The past four years I’ve been working really hard, trying to better myself. Coach has really helped me out. The team has helped me out too.

"I like to say I’m a pretty good scorer. My specialty is 3-point shooting."

Walton dedicates title to teammate

Jaevon Walton, a junior linebacker and running back, could barely contain his emotions Friday when Tuscaloosa Academy won its first AISA football championship. Walton rushed for 58 yards and scored on runs of 1 and 3 yards, and the Knights defeated Lee-Scott Academy 27-26 at Troy University.

Walton said he dedicated the championship to Torrence Brown, who was on the sideline but couldn’t play. Brown, who was slated for duty at running back, receiver, linebacker and defensive end, suffered a season-ending knee injury in September.

"It felt great," Walton said. "I had my former teammate, Torrence Brown, on my side. I told him I had to do it for him. As soon he got hurt, I said, ‘I’m going to lead us to the promised land. I promise you we’re going to win the state championship.’"

Walton led the Knights with 10 tackles. On the last play of the third quarter, he sacked the quarterback and forced a fumble that Terrell Bush returned 53 yards for a touchdown.

"That play was huge," Walton said. "That was a momentum change. That gave everybody life. That gave our fans life. That gave our players life to know we could win the state championship. We put in so much work, and it just feels great to reap the benefits we got."

Walton’s 3-yard touchdown run and Austin Menard’s extra-point kick gave Tuscaloosa Academy a 27-20 lead with 8:31 left. The touchdown came after Walton caught a 70-yard pass from Jonathan Plott on a second-and-nine play from the 25. Lee-Scott Academy scored a touchdown with 2:49 remaining, but Kyle Andrews blocked the extra-point attempt.

Walton is the son of John Copeland, Tuscaloosa Academy’s defensive coordinator. Copeland was a senior All-American defensive end at Alabama in 1992. The Crimson Tide won the first SEC Championship Game by beating Florida and went on to win the national championship with a victory over Miami in the Sugar Bowl.

"I won a national championship, but this feels just as good," Copeland said. "I love this."

Tony Whitehead cleared for basketball

Tony Whitehead, who was injured while playing wide receiver for the Paul W. Bryant football team, has been cleared to play basketball.

Coach Shon Peck-Love said Whitehead, a 6-foot-3 senior forward, has recovered from surgery on his left foot.

"He plays about like he’s 6-7 because of his tremendous leaping ability," Peck-Love said. "He plays above the rim."

Peck-Love said Whitehead has been inactive for about two months.

"We’ve got to get him back in shape," Peck-Love said.

 

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