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Sulligent will be at home for playoff opener

 

By Buster Wolfe bwolfe@cdispatch.com

 

SULLIGENT, Ala. -- With the distractions and obstacles Sulligent High School has had to overcome this season, Blue Devils interim football coach Ronnie Hubbert has talked a lot about last year to get his squad fired up for Friday night''s playoff game. 

 

West End (4-6) of Walnut Grove, Ala., will travel to Sulligent (8-2) for the first-round game in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 2A playoffs. Last year, the Blue Devils advanced to the playoffs but lost 17-6 to Tanner in the first round. 

 

"We don''t want to do that again," Hubbert said. "I''ve talked to the players this week about going ''one and done,'' and that''s not what we''re going to do. We''re in the playoffs. We earned it and we deserve it." 

 

Hubbert believes Sulligent stacks up well against the Patriots. 

 

"Their offense looks like the offenses we have been seeing this year," Hubbert said. "They have a quarterback, Caleb Mayo, who is big and quick." 

 

Mayo, a sophomore, is 5-foot-10 and 145 points. 

 

Hubbert said the Patriots defense is "not as big as most." 

 

Off the field, Sulligent has had to deal with the effects of Sept. 17, when head coach Dwight Bowling was arrested and later booked on federal charges of child molestation and trying to get the victim to lie to investigators. He is scheduled to stand trial Jan. 3 in Greenville. 

 

n Pickens Academy (6-4) at Clarke Prep (9-1): Coach John Gartman knows his Pirates will have a big challenge Friday in the Alabama Independent Schools Association Class 2A playoff game against Clarke Prep of Grove Hill. 

 

"They are the best team I have seen on film this year," Gartman said. "They are a very physical team." 

 

Clarke Prep is No. 1 and Pickens Academy is No. 6 in MaxPreps.com''s rankings of AISA Class 2A. 

 

Gartman said Clarke Prep prefers the run over the pass because of the size of its offensive linemen. 

 

"They also take big chances sometimes and hurt you on a big play," Gartman said. "If I were coaching a great team, I might just keep running the ball right into the defense. It''s kinda hard to mess that up." 

 

Gartman hopes his offense will be his team''s best defense. 

 

"We need to put together drives, get first downs, and keep their offense off the field," he said. "That''s the best defense, to keep their offense off the field." 

 

n Aliceville (6-3) at Handley of Roanoke (8-1): The Yellow Jackets have had an extra week to prepare for their first-round AHSAA Class 3A playoff game. Aliceville coach Eddie Hill gave his kids a break. 

 

"We practiced a couple of days, then we let our kids take a few days off," Hill said. "We wanted them to rest their bumps and bruises and get their legs back. We''ve had some sore ankles and shoulders we wanted to rest. We went back to full practice Monday." 

 

MaxPreps.com rates Handley as the state''s No. 2 Class 3A team. Aliceville is 27th. 

 

Hill said predictions and polls aren''t important in the playoffs. 

 

"I''ve seen some strange things happen during a football game," he said. "We just need to do what we do and do it good. I think we will be all right." 

 

Hill said Handley runs a power football formation and can pass off the option. He also said his Yellow Jackets will be ready for the challenge. 

 

"These kids have played hard all year," he said. "I have been real pleased with the progress." 

 

n Pickens County (6-4) at Loachapoka (6-4): Coach Scott Marchant will find out how Region 4 stacks up against Region 3 when his Tornadoes take on the Indians in the AHSAA Class 1A playoffs. 

 

Pickens County, which will make a four-hour trip to Loachapoka on Friday, was No. 3 in Region 4, while the home team was No. 2 in Region 3. 

 

"I would hope the level of competition in our district would be greater, but you can''t say that," he said. "They are a good football team with good athletes, and they have a good mix of players. I know they had an outstanding season last year, so they have good coaches with a tradition of good football teams." 

 

Marchant said rain Tuesday forced his team to practice inside, which could affect its preparation. 

 

"We got outside Monday, then we had to go to the gym," Marchant said. "We''ve been working on technique and doing what we can, but there''s only so much you can get done inside."

 

 

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