Southern Prep

Cliff Williams / The Outlook

Southern Prep’s Tristen Ellis (19) and Nyqerious Dowdell (4) combine to stop a runner.

Southern Prep is going into a true David versus Goliath situation.

But football coach Roland Bell is feeling confident in his players and feels if they continue to play like they did in the 49-0 win over Trinity Christian, they have a chance to pull off the upset next week against Ezekiel Academy.

“No matter how good anyone is, there are cracks in the armor,” Bell said. “When we look at the film, we see the cracks; now we have to make sure our players understand what they are seeing. We aren’t going to be perfect but we think there’s enough there we can make something happen.”

Southern Prep (3-2, 1-1) had a tough time scheduling games with the football program being eight-man, so the Fighting Rangers have had a mixture of eight-man and regular 11-man football throughout the season. This week the team is on another bye week as it prepares for the toughest test of the season so far, facing the No. 1 ranked Ezekiel Academy (7-0, 2-0). According to the National High School Tournament Eight-Man Football rankings, Ezekiel is the best eight-man football team in the country after beating Evangel Christian out of Alabaster which was previously No. 1.

“They (Ezekiel) play solid football over there,” Bell said. “Their quarterback is their workhorse. He reads the defense and runs based off of what he sees. They tend to run it 60% to 70% with him. They have a big running back as well who is fast.”

The Fighting Rangers are coming off of their most lop sided win of the season with a 49-0 win over Trinity Christian. 

Owen Wolfe got it done through the air, completing seven out of 12 pass attempts for 171 yards and three touchdowns. 

“We are doing better and playing better as a team,” Bell said. “The defense has been flying around and making plays. The offensive and defensive line have been more aggressive coming off the ball; the trenches are looking much better overall.”

According to Bell, there were four more touchdowns called back due to penalties from Southern Prep and he believes the score should have been much higher. Bell said taking a week on and week off contributes to the inconsistencies on the field.

“As soon as we get back in the groove we take another week off,” Bell said. “With the time off, we were able to clean some things up, but others not so much.”

Wolfe’s ability to pass the ball against Meadowview Christian and Trinity Christian backed off the safeties and cornerbacks, allowing Nyqerious Dowdell to have a field day for the Fighting Rangers on the ground with six carries for 220 yards and eight carries for 73 yards with five touchdowns in those two games.

Bell also believes for the upset to come full circle the offensive line will need to continue to play the way it has and keep giving Wolfe the time he needs and the holes the running backs need.

“The offensive line is giving quarterback more time to make reads,” Bell said. “They have been coming off the ball harder and just keep getting better.”

Ryne Gallacher is a sports writer for The Outlook.