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Fayette County, Straughn playing for a trip to state title game


Fayette County head coach Lance Tucker celebrates with Andrew Stanford. (Photo by File photo)


The last time Fayette County played in an AHSAA football final was in 2000 when the Tigers were the Class 4A runner-up to T.R. Miller. Straughn, which is riding its best playoff run in school history, is seeking its first appearance in a state championship game.

Fayette County coach Lance Tucker and his players have to drive about five hours today to reach Covington County, but it’ll be worth it if they can advance to Auburn University to play in next week’s title game against the Lauderdale County-Madison Academy winner.

"Any time you’re in the playoffs, the most important game is the one you’re playing because there is no tomorrow," Tucker said. "I don’t think our guys are looking forward. We’ve got a couple of seniors who are really good leaders. These guys have been in the playoffs for several years now. They understand if you get beat you’re done."

One of the senior leaders, outside linebacker Darnell Williams, is leading Fayette County in tackles (90) for the third straight season. Another leader is defensive back Dondre Young.

"They know what’s at stake," Tucker said. "We don’t know what’s going to happen Friday night, but whatever happens it won’t be because we’re looking forward."

Tucker is in his second season as head coach at Fayette County, his alma mater. Trent Taylor took over the Straughn program in 1990.

"They’re probably one of the best-coached teams we’ve played all year," Tucker said. "What really stuck out to me was how hard their kids played. We got to watching them, rather than our job and breaking down the film. We had to re-focus there for a little bit.

"They run the ball really well, and their defense is as tough as we’ve seen as far as being gritty and having 11 people running to the football. Their quarterback (Chase Short) is a tough, gritty kid. He finds a way to get the job done."

Short ran for a touchdown and kicked a field goal in last week’s win over Midfield.

"Defensively, I think they have a championship-caliber team," Tucker said. "You can tell their coach is their leader, and it trickles down to the team. They play hard, and they’re well-coached on that side of the ball. It’s definitely going to be a challenge."

Fayette County, led by quarterback Marcellus Redmond and receiver JaTevin Madison, is averaging 33.3 points per game. Redmond has rushed for 473 yards and nine touchdowns and has thrown for 1,345 yards and 17 touchdowns. Madison has 45 catches for 881 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has a rushing touchdown and has scored twice on kickoff returns and twice on punt returns.

"I told our skill guys that they’ve won a lot of games for us," Tucker said. "Friday night, it’s going to come down to who has the best front on offense and the best front on defense. For us to have a chance our offensive line has to show up."

Fayette County’s starters on the offensive line are center Brock Burkhalter, guards Andrew Stanford and Dee Nalls, tackles Brent Rickman and Brandon Daniel and tight end Steven Enis.

 

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