Head Coach Robert Higginbotham
The No.11 Hueytown Golden Gophers (6-0; 4-0) will host the No.3 ranked Tuscaloosa County Wildcats (6-0; 4-0) and barring an unforeseen breakdown in the next two weeks should give us the No.1 seed out of this region to face the fourth seed out of region 7 for the playoffs.
Coach Robert Higginbotham's Wildcats struggled in their first loss against Minor (0-6).
"I think that was the worst against the worst," Higginbotham said. "We had a monsoon hit us about the second quarter and from that point on it was awful on both sides."
Take the normal penalties and turnovers in a game double that, then throw in horrific conditions and long weather delays and you will have what adds up to a 16-12 win over a team that has gone the opposite direction this season.
There have been no such games since. The closest an opponent has gotten at the end of the game is within 24 points. They have shut out Jackson-Olin (1-5) 42-0 and Thompson (2-4) 34-0.
Junior running back Jerome Brown, 2006 leading rusher, was among the Stars of Alabama for his performance against the Warriors. He rushed for 177 yards and scored four touchdowns with 139 of the total gained prior to the half.
Brown is again leading the Wildcats in rushing with just under 600 yards. He also has receptions totaling just under 200 yards.
Coach Higginbotham talked to ScoutSouth.com about who has stood out this season for the Wildcats.
"Of course, John Michael Boswell (Alabama commitment) is having a great year for us," he replied. Our quarterback Brett Booth (5-10, 180) is a good bit over 1,000 (1,342) yards passing already. He's doing real well."
Booth is a junior. He started his sophomore year and passed for over 1,900 yards in an 11 game season. Tuscaloosa County suffered an overtime loss to Sparkman in the first round of the play-offs in 2006.
"Most of our better players are juniors," Higginbotham said.
"Jerrod Sewell (6-1, 215) is having a good year at linebacker. He is a junior. Thomas Brown (6-0, 190) is a senior and is our best defensive player. He is a defensive end, and he is leading the team in sacks. He just has one big play after another it seems."
We asked Coach Higginbotham if he is surprised with the success of this young football team.
"Not really," he answered. "We kind of took our lumps last year (6-5) with a bunch of sophomores and really they got the experience to perform well this year. We were expecting them to perform well, especially after a years experience."
Coach Higginbotham talked about this week's practice.
"I think it's been good," he said."We were out of school Monday and Tuesday. We practiced in the morning so it kind of got us out of our normal routine. We'll get back on track today (Wednesday). I think we have had a good week of practice, and we're going to need it."
"They (Hueytown) are undefeated, and I know they have been looking forward to this game for a couple of weeks."
To prove this point, Hueytown eeked out a 17-14 victory over Northridge (2-4) last week. The Golden Gophers had averaged 47.8 points per game prior to that game.
"We are going to have to play some defense," Higginbotham added. "They are moving the ball against everyone and scoring a lot of points. We've got to play better defense than we've played. Then we've just got to go out there and execute on offense. When we do that we usually are able to move the ball, and that's what we've been doing the last few weeks."
Knowing that Hueytown can really rack up the points we queried Coach Higginbotham about his special teams performance, specifically the field position aspect.
"We started off pretty slow as far as covering kicks, especially kickoffs. But we've worked extremely hard at that. One of the things that have hurt as far as covering kick-offs is not getting it down there quiet far enough. We have an accurate field goal kicker."
"Thomas Brown is a good punter for us. Stacy Terry has been real good at kicking extra points and field goals. We are fortunate to have two good kickers. The other parts of it, we work extremely hard to try to at least be sound in those areas."
With the team sky-high off their undefeated and since the first game, unchallenged journey thus far, we asked Coach Higginbotham if it was difficult to keep their feet on the ground.
"That's a chore," he answered with a laugh. "It's just a continual process. But you know, I think our kids for the most part are a mature group this year. They remember last year. They want to keep their feet on the ground and do well every week."
Hueytown players to watch: Junior running back Calvin Young is averaging almost 11 yards a carry, senior Marquise Moore and junior Leonard Stephens are not far behind. Senior quarterback Jake Lindsey targets seniors Ronnie Cockrell and Andrew Spradlin at receiver. Lindsey is also the Gophers' punter.
Defensively, Aecerio Hargrove, Deon Lacey and Reggie Webster all have over 50 tackles a piece. Lacey is a threat to block a kick with three times this season.
Bits and Pieces:
Hueytown also faced Thompson in the second game of the season and won in overtime 34-31 versus Tuscaloosa County's domination of the Warriors 34-0.
Yratings.com ranks Tuscaloosa County with a power rating of 137.5 while Hueytown garners a 127.1 standing. They rate Tuscaloosa County a 10 point favorite in the game.
Coach Higginbotham is a 1965 graduate of Hueytown High School where he played for his father, Morris Higginbotham. He was a three-year letterman in football, baseball, and basketball.
This is Coach Higginbotham's 34th year as a head coach. Both father and son are in the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame. Another 30-year coach and his father are in the Hall of Fame as well--Coach Buddy Anderson of Vestavia and his father Dovey Anderson.
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