September 24, 2009 11:07:00 AM
Bragging rights always are at a premium when Pickens County and Aliceville high schools football teams meet.
The rivalry will feature an added dimension at 7 p.m. Friday in Reform, Ala., when Pickens County and Aliceville enter the game with 4-0 records.
"We''re going to have them lined up six or seven deep along the fences trying to get a glimpse of this football game," Pickens County coach Scott Marchant said. "Our people want to see us win this football game. They want to see us win every game, but they''re more vocal about this game."
It''s the first time both the rivals are undefeated entering their matchup since 2005. Aliceville rolled to a 33-0 victory and went undefeated until it lost to T.R. Miller in the second round of the Class 3A state playoffs.
"Everybody is excited," Marchant said. "The kids are excited. The fans are excited. We''re excited we get to be a part of something that''s got so much interest in it."
Pickens County is ranked No. 2 in the Alabama Sports Writers Association Class 2A poll, while Aliceville is receiving votes in Class 3A.
Aliceville coach Robin Tyra doesn''t want his players to get caught up in the excitement of playing a rival and trying to stay undefeated.
"We''ve got to stay on track and take care of our next opponent, which is Pickens County," Tyra said. "We can''t get head over heels thinking we''re going to go in there and run away from them because we haven''t done that (in any of the previous games). We''re 4-0, and I want them to stay hungry. If we don''t get in here and get prepared the way we need to, Pickens County is a very explosive team and very athletic team that could cause us some trouble."
Marchant and Tyra are in their first seasons as head coaches, but Marchant experienced the rivalry for six years as Pickens County''s defensive coordinator.
"Until you experience it, you really have a hard time understanding the rivalry between Pickens County, Aliceville, and Gordo," Marchant said. "It''s got such a great tradition, but until you''re in the fight, so to speak, you don''t really appreciate it for what it really is. You can''t really describe it very well. You can say it''s intense. You can say all the clichés. It''s a special thing we''ve got going on over here."
Pickens County is averaging 45.5 points and allowing 12.7 points per game. The Tornadoes have beaten Greensboro 48-24, Shades Mountain Christian 67-7, Thorsby 33-14, and Hale County 34-6.
"If there''s anything I could say it would be we have to bottle up No. 1 (quarterback Deion Curry) and take care of No. 5 (Dominique Jones)," Tyra said. "They have No. 25 (James Adams), too. Those are three kids we really have to get a handle on."
Aliceville is averaging 16 points and allowing 7.7 points per game. The Yellow Jackets have beaten American Christian 6-3, Greene County 8-6, Sumiton Christian 36-22, and Sumter County 14-0.
"They''re awfully good in all areas and phases," Marchant said. "We''re going to have to play really well to compete with them."
Aliceville lost quarterback Mack Burden for the season when he was injured against Greene County, but everyone else will play against Pickens County.
Everyone will play for Pickens County.
n Lamar County at R.C. Hatch: The Bulldogs will attempt to remain undefeated Friday.
Lamar County (4-0) is off to its best start since 1992 when it went 13-0 before losing to Elba in the Class 3A state championship game.
"You have to continue to get better," said Lamar County coach Ken Adams. "You have to continue to do things right. You''ve got to continue to be disciplined. That''s what we talk about when we talk about measuring ourselves."
Lamar County beat rival Sulligent 21-20 this past Thursday, and Adams didn''t waste any time bringing his players down from a high.
"I told them come Monday they had to come back to work," Adams said. "We flopped them around in the water and muck (Monday) because we were jumping offsides (against Sulligent), so I think we took care of that high."
Lamar County beat R.C. Hatch 54-14 last year, but Adams expects R.C. Hatch (2-2) to be improved.
"They''re athletic," Adams said. "That''s the thing that makes them dangerous. They''re fast and they''re athletic and they''re big."
n South Lamar at Parrish: The Stallions will travel Friday to Parrish without quarterback Trent Wilson, who quit the team.
Wilson was injured in the season opener against Lamar County and didn''t play the next two games before informing South Lamar coach Josh Harper last Friday he was quitting.
Wilson suffered an injury in the upper back and neck area.
Brad McCool has replaced Wilson as the starter. DeShawn Davis and eighth-grader Canaan Fleming will be the backups.
"I think the kids will rally together and step it up," Harper said. "It is a blow any time you lose a player under any circumstances.
"It was one of those things they couldn''t pinpoint. He just never could get over it."
South Lamar (1-3) is coming off a 36-2 loss to Lynn.
Running backs Malcolm Willingham (high ankle sprain) and Ken Mitchell (rib) will play against Parrish after being hobbled by injuries.
"We''ve got our good running backs back, but it still comes down to fundamentals," Harper said. "We''ve got to lower the shoulder pads and go. That''s what hurt us against Lynn. We didn''t do those things. Those are things we''re trying to fix."
Defensively, South Lamar will try to stop running back Richard Thomas.
"If you let him get outside he''ll burn you, he''ll beat you," Harper said. "That''s the focus of their game."
n Sulligent at Winfield: The Blue Devils could be without junior linebacker Tony Johnson, who re-injured his ankle in the loss to Lamar County.
"He played the whole game and had his ankle taped good, but he still tweaked it a little bit," Sulligent coach Dwight Bowling said. "We''ve got to get him well before the Winston County game next week. That''s our next big region game."
Bowling said his player will try bounce back after losing to Lamar County. The Blue Devils scored a touchdown on a hook and ladder play in the final minute to cut the score to 21-20. They converted the extra point but were penalized five yards. The second extra-point try went wide left.
"They''re very resilient and they''re going to come back," Bowling said. "They play hard. They realize the mistakes we made during the game that cost us. We made several. Everything we did is correctable."
Bowling said Sulligent (2-2) will be ready for tonight''s game.
"We''re just packed with rivals," Bowling said. "They''re 25 miles down the road, and it''s always a big rival game with a big crowd.
"They''re primarily a running team that will mix in the pass very little. They beat Vernon (Lamar County) in the jamboree by two touchdowns, so they have a pretty good football team."
n Monroe Academy at Pickens Academy: The Pirates will look to get off the roller coaster Friday after a 28-22 loss to Escambia Academy last week.
The Pirates (2-2) have lost their two games by nine points. They lost to Southern Academy 19-16.
Pickens Academy will attempt to avenge a 40-21 loss to Monroe Academy last season.
1. Central Academy softball looks for return to state tournament HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. Walters column: Noxubee County rarely backs away from challenge HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. MSU men's basketball releases non-conference schedule COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Bulldogs land commitment from McLaurin at Collins LOCAL SPORTS
5. Oak Hill Academy softball hopes to build on win column HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS