For two seasons now, Benjamin Russell’s football team has struggled to find its footing with its run game. The Wildcats have tried different formations, different running backs and different quarterbacks, but nothing has quite worked.
But simplification may be the answer.
Benjamin Russell ran just six offensive plays and four different runs Friday night, and it fed the ball to Hezekiah Hunter over and over again. And the senior delivered. He finished with more than 100 yards and four touchdowns, leading Benjamin Russell to an easy victory over Chilton County, 55-7.
“I think he’s getting more and more comfortable,” BRHS coach Kevin Smith said. “He’s learning how the holes are going to open up, and he’s seeing it a lot faster and getting into the defense and into the secondary. He’s always run hard, but he’s getting patience now.”
Hunter seems to be one of those running backs who does better the more carries he gets and with Benjamin Russell struggling in its passing attack it seems clear Hunter is the best option to keep feeding.
“A lot of good backs are like that,” Smith said. “I’m not comparing him to Bo Jackson or Herschel Walker, but you look at those classic running backs and I just feel like really good backs get better with more action. My nickname for Hezekiah is Old Man River; he just keeps on rolling.”
Changing things up
With Gavin Brazzell out at running back, Horseshoe Bend needed a spark early after a dismal start against Loachapoka. That spark came in the form of Holt Tidwell.
Cole Johnson has played several snaps over the last two years at quarterback, so he was moved under center and Tidwell was put in the running back position after the first quarter.
“We started out with (Tidwell) at quarterback and started ninth-grader Luke Jones (at running back),” HBS coach Jeremy Phillips said. “I just thought we needed somebody that had a little more body to him to run against their big games. Holt ran behind the pads and whenever it was his turn to block, he blocked well.”
With Johnson in at QB and Tidwell running the ball, that also frees up Chandler McMath and Brazzell to move out to receiver. Phillips said the Generals could see that set more often as Tidwell finished with more than 100 rushing yards last week.
With such a youthful squad, Dadeville knew it was going to have to rely on some of its youngsters to get the job done. Although the Tigers are struggling to find wins, there has been one standout in particular and that’s freshman Avontae Wilson.
At linebacker, Wilson was the defensive star for the Tigers last week against Elmore County.
“He stuck his head up in there and made a bunch of tackles,” Dadeville coach Richard White said. “He was out of position on some things but that goes back to him just needing more reps and more playing time. As he matures as a football player, he’s going to figure it out and understand what we’re teaching.”
White recently said Wilson could be the next Division I prospect for the Tigers if he continues to keep at it and improve.
No trouble with the backup
Logan Hunt is used to being a starting quarterback. So it’s no surprise when the Reeltown Rebels had to call on him last week after Iverson Hooks went down with a concussion late in the first half against Maplesville, Hunt didn’t miss a beat.
“He came in and just showed off every bit of strength that he has,” Rebel coach Matt Johnson said. “He’s got composure, demand of the huddle, leadership and the fact that if everybody is covered, he can just throw it to Eric (Shaw) or throw it away.”
Hunt didn’t have to do too much through the air, but he had several key rushes. Most importantly, though, he managed the game well.
“He didn’t try to do too much,” Johnson said. “He threw one ball away, and that’s huge. People see that as just as incompletion, but that stands out as he’s good under pressure. He’s composed. He’s directing; he’s a general; and he’s been there.”
Hooks will be a game-time decision for this week’s game at Thorsby.