And then there were twoPublished 5:34pm Monday, November 11, 2013
With one week down in postseason play, the local area’s contributions to the playoff field has thinned out a bit. After Reeltown’s 17-7 first-round loss to North Sand Mountain, only Benjamin Russell and Dadeville are alive in the playoffs, but the second-round opponents waiting on the Wildcats and Tigers could be a tougher challenge than the opening-round opponent.
That’s saying something for Dadeville, which barely avoided an upset at the hands of the better-than-advertised Thomasville Tigers. Thanks to stout defense and a bad night by Thomasville’s special teams, Dadeville advanced to the next round with a 7-6 win. Waiting for them will be the 9-2 Calera Eagles, who are fresh off a 21-10 first-round defeat of Tallasse, the only team to beat Dadeville this season.
As for the Wildcats, although the scoreboard indicates a dominant win, Benjamin Russell was slow out of the gate in a 48-7 win over Chilton County. Bryant Horn threw only his second interception of the season – which resulted in Chilton County’s only points of the game – and the Wildcats’ running game was rendered largely ineffective.
Horn was able to throw the ball all over the field in the second half, but yards and points could be tough to come by when the 9-2 St. Paul’s Saints head to the Sportplex.
The Saints should field the most imposing 5A defense that Benjamin Russell has seen to this point in the season.
Team: Benjamin Russell (5A)
Second-round opponent: St. Paul’s
Where: Charles E. Bailey Sportplex (Alexander City)
When: 7 p.m.
In St. Paul’s, the Benjamin Russell Wildcats have on their hands an unfamiliar opponent that has taken care of business in an all-too-familiar fashion.
Like the Wildcats, the Saints have been able to smother most of their adversaries with overwhelming defensive play. St. Paul’s has held six opponents to nine points or less this season. To the Wildcats’ credit, they’ve held eight of their opponents to seven points or less.
The stars will be out in what shapes up to be a defensive battle. St. Paul’s defense is led by Tre Williams and Zavier Carmichael. Both highly-touted defenders already have made their college decisions, with Williams committing to Auburn, and Carmichael set to head to Duke. The Saints’ defense was a difference maker in the team’s opening-round win over Demopolis. Jalen Thompson snagged two picks for St. Paul’s, one of which snuffed out Demopolis’ chances at a comeback win.
However, the Wildcats’ defensive backs are finding their hands on the ball a lot lately. Tyrik Norris, Eric Varner and Diorte Russell each had picks against Chilton County and over the last three games, BRHS has come up with eight interceptions and 13 total turnovers. With both defenses playing at a high level, it may come down to which defense bends but doesn’t break.
Team: Dadeville (4A)
Second-round opponent: Calera
Where: Tiger Stadium (Dadeville)
When: 7 p.m.
While the Tigers’ defense is playing as ferociously as ever, the Tigers’ customarily high-octane offense has been slowed to a plodding pace as of late. However, the team continues to find ways to win and may have to continue doing so when Calera comes to town.
With the Eagles coming to town, there’s great potential for offensive fireworks, as the Eagles have scored at least 52 points in a game five times this year. In three of those occassions, Calera cracked the 60-point plateau, once putting 83 points on the board.
The Eagles – who were ranked No. 1 in Class 4A at one point this season – will challenge the Tigers’ defense with one of the most dangerous playmakers in 4A in senior quarterback Ronnie Clark. The Alabama committ is able to slice up defenses with his legs, as well as keep opponents honest with his arm.
Dadeville counters with C.J. Tolbert, who can gash a defense with the best of them from a scrambling standpoint. However, the Tigers’ normally potent pass attack has struggled with producing big plays as of late.
For Dadeville to advance to the third round, it may come down to another defensive masterpiece from the Tigers. Tamarcus Russell, D.J. Morgan and Anfernee Jennings have hit just about everything that has moved this season, and a big night from these three could be the determining factor.