September 16, 2009 8:07:00 AM
Three weeks after kicking off the season against one rival, the Lamar County High School football team will play another Thursday night.
Lamar County beat South Lamar 61-20 in its season opener and is completing its game plan for its matchup at 7 p.m. Thursday against Sulligent.
"It kind of gets you started off right," Lamar County coach Ken Adams said of the rivalry games. "There''s always a respect factor with either team, but there''s probably more intensity when it comes to the Sulligent game. Nobody here wants to lose to South Lamar, but the community gets even more intense when it comes to the Sulligent game."
Lamar County (3-0) also was undefeated entering last season''s game, which it lost 40-19 in Vernon, Ala.
"I don''t care if we''re undefeated or haven''t won a game, we just want to play hard," Adams said. "You want to come in and win this game. The hardest thing about last week was making sure our players kept their minds on Cleveland and keeping them focused on doing their jobs and not looking forward to this week."
Sulligent High coach Dwight Bowling said it doesn''t matter what the teams'' records are when the rivals clash.
"Just beating them is a big plus to us," Bowling said. "We''ve been successful (against Lamar County) the last three years in a row. They''re good every year. You can throw out the record book when it comes to this one. It''s a big game to us in all respects."
Lamar County hasn''t beaten Sulligent since a 45-20 victory at Sulligent in 2005.
Prior to last year''s game, Sulligent won 42-28 in 2007 and 32-14 in 2006.
The game will be an Alabama High School Activities Association Class 2A, Region 7 showdown as both teams are 2-0 in the league. Lamar County has beaten Cold Springs 47-12 and Cleveland 48-30, while Sulligent has defeated Cleveland 35-12 and Cold Springs 39-0.
"This is the biggest game of the year for both teams," Bowling said. "Both teams are pretty good. I think this is going to go a long way in deciding positioning in the region at the end of the year. To be on the top you''ve got to win this game."
Adams and Bowling are looking forward to playing the game Thursday night instead of on Friday night.
"I told the kids this will be the biggest game they''ve played in their career," Adams said. "Having it on Thursday night, your crowd is going to be pumped up. Everybody gets to come and watch it. That part is good because it highlights or spotlights Vernon and Sulligent. As a coach or an administrator, you want your program put out there in the spotlight. That''s where you want to be. It kind of highlights what we''re trying to do here. We hope a bunch of people come out and watch it, and we hope it''s a good game."
Senior quarterback Michael Bradford, who had completed 8 of 13 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns through the first two games of the season, leads Lamar County''s offense.
Lamar County''s leading rushers through the first two games were Will Franks with 110 yards on seven carries, Lance Bobbitt with 104 yards on eight attempts, and Bradford with 59 yards on nine tries.
"They have a lot of speed, a lot of quickness, probably more then they have had in the past," Bowling said. "They''re real dangerous. They run the option really well. They can also power the ball at you with the big fullback (Bobbitt) that they have. Their passing attack has improved, also. Now you have to defend that, too."
Steven Stewart leads Sulligent''s offense. Stewart has rushed for 353 yards (117 yards per game) and eight touchdowns. The team has rushed 623 yards for an average of 207.7 yards per game.
Quarterback John Potmesil has completed 14 of 24 passes for 206 yards and one touchdown, and Parker Northington has completed 12 of 26 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns.
"We''ve got to contain them," Adams said. "We''ve got to stop some form of their game whether it''s (running or passing). We''ve got to be able to stop the run. If they''re able to run on us that will open up their passing game. We''ve got to concentrate on stopping the run.
"Steven is a real special athlete. I really respect how hard he runs. You enjoy it a lot more when you''re watching it on film and they''re playing somebody else. You really respect the fact he runs as hard as he runs. They''ve got other guys that run hard, also. Coach Bowling does a good job formation wise getting you out on an island and causing some matchup problems. We''ve just got to be able to match up and make the plays."
Adams said his team is healthy, while Sulligent will get Tony Johnson and Cody Smith back from ankle injuries. Both missed the past two games.
n Lynn at South Lamar: The Stallions play at home Friday after getting their first win of the season last week in a 39-14 victory against Brilliant.
The victory was South Lamar coach Josh Harper''s first as a head coach.
"I was very proud for the boys," Harper said. "It shows they can win. Learning to win takes time. I think they''ve found what it takes to win. It takes four quarters and you can''t drop your head. The kids did a great job of working together and they learned how to win together last week, and I think that''s going to be a boost."
South Lamar (1-2) won despite being riddled with injuries. The Stallions played without quarterback Trent Wilson and running back Malcolm Willingham, while running back Keen Mitchell carried the ball only two times
"They won''t be back full steam (against Lynn)," Harper said. "They have been cleared (to play), but they''re still not 100 percent. I''m not going to use them right from the get-go.
"Trent Wilson is out for another two weeks. Malcolm Willingham may get to play a little bit on defense. He is still nursing a high ankle sprain. Ken Mitchell is still nursing bruised ribs, but he''s a little bit better, and he''ll be used more than he was last week."
n Sumter County at Aliceville: The Yellow Jackets will attempt to remain undefeated against a team that hasn''t won a game when they play host to Sumter County on Friday.
Aliceville (3-0) is coming off a 36-22 victory against Sumiton Christian. The Yellow Jackets won despite playing without quarterback Mack Burden, who was burned in a grease fire at home this past Thursday.
Burden is hospitalized at the University of Alabama-Birmingham Medical Center and is expected to miss the season.
Aliceville responded with its highest-scoring game of the season against Sumiton Christian.
"The one thing I told the guys before we left (to play Sumiton Christian) was it''s unfortunate we don''t have him here, but we are in good shape," Aliceville coach Robin Tyra said. "We have depth. We have kids that can play behind him and do a good job. It good to get so many kids in. We played a lot of kids. We played a lot of kids trying to get a good fit for that position."
Tyra used Terry Mayhew, Javaris Dancy, Marquise Mayhew, and Edward Doughtry at quarterback in Burden''s absense.
n Hale County at Pickens County: A pair of undefeated teams will clash when the Tornadoes play host to Hale County on Friday.
Pickens County (3-0) remained unbeaten last Friday when it defeated Thorsby 33-14.
"We''re keeping it going," Pickens County coach Scott Marchant said. "We have a very tough opponent. It will give us a good idea where we are. They''ve looked real good. They defeated what were two real good teams last year in Isabel and Fultondale. They''ve been in some close ballgames already this year, and I think that gives them an edge in that departiment."
The only player who is questionable for Pickens County is starting right tackle Greg Jones, who injured his knee against Sumiton Christian.
n Pickens Academy at Escambia Academy: The Pirates will seek a repeat of last season when they play Escambia Academy on Friday.
Pickens Academy scored its most points in a game last season when it beat Escambia Academy 53-0. It was also the Pirates'' only shutout of the season.
Pickens Academy (2-1) seeks its second win in a row.