Beat Down in T-Town

Sweet Water Running Back Anthony Landrum

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- You just thought all that purple and gold invading Tuscaloosa Friday was from Louisiana. Much of it was, but some of it came from the tiny hamlet of Sweet Water, (Ala.) home of the No.1 Sweet Water Bulldogs in class 1A.

Many Sweet Water players wore t-shirts saying "Destroy their will," aimed at whomever the Bulldogs are facing that week. The Dogs visited No. 4 in 2A American Christian to renew a rivalry that continued even when the Patriots moved up to 2A.

"It's just been really what high school football's all about," said ACA coach Stephen Hooks, who is very good friends with Sweet Water coach Stacy Luker. "Two schools whose coaches and kids all love each other, and compete fiercely against each other," Hooks added, and it shows when the teams play.

The competition is hard and played until the whistle, but officials, coaches and fans alike know that an ACA/Sweet Water match up should be a clean one.

It wasn't as clean as expected, as one ACA player was ejected for an alleged punch, and it was won by Sweet Water by a final score of 40-7. It was, to coin a phrase, a beat-down.

"They're offensive line is a machine. They just execute really well," said Hooks. True that.

Sweet Water is now 10-0, and ACA fell to 8-2.

To the categories:

TOP PROSPECT: "Obviously, Anthony Landrum," said Hooks, and I agree. Luker said Landrum's senior stats, though impressive, could be better.

"He's got 122 carries for 975 yards (coming in). Out of eight games, he hasn't played in the second half in but three of them. (That would be due to the score.) He's our feature guy. He's had a good year. He's been what we expected him to be so far," Loker said.

Landrum hears from Southern Miss most, but also from Alabama on occasion. His dad, Michael, was the Tide's first African-American quarterback in 1979 before transferring to Southern Miss.

Landrum scored on runs of 35 and 5 yards to help his team to a 34-7 half-time lead. Despite the fast break nature of ACA's offense, the game was over for all practical purposes at that point.

SENIORS WHO SHINED: Hooks says Drew Luker should get a little more love than he does.

"You watch them on film, and there are a lot of big games where he is the ‘X-factor' that beats people because they're so focused on Anthony (Landrum). " Hooks said.

Hooks was right. Drew Luker had one of three first-half interceptions thrown by ACA senior Brad Smelley. Drew Luker scored on runs of 32, 3 and 1 yard.

"He's thrown the ball well when we‘ve needed it. He‘s run the ball well," said Luker of his oldest son. "He's our second-leading tackler on defense from his rover position. He really enjoys playing. He gets after it. He's our leader on the field."

Auburn, Southern Miss, Troy and Vanderbilt are a few who have been in contact with Drew.

Another Bulldog who is making his way back to health is safety/receiver Travis Young (6-4, 185). Young has battled a knee injury, but his 59-yard interception return in the first half made it seem like he's back. Young also plays basketball.

As to rumors that Alabama commitment Brad Smelley is reconsidering his pledge to the Tide and possibly joining brother Chris in Columbia, "He really doesn't discuss that much, or talk about it," Hooks said. "He's been incredibly focused on being just a phenomenal leader for our group this year."

Smelley entered the game with 20 TDs and just four interceptions (though that total nearly doubled in the first half). Like Landrum, he's rarely finished a game this season.

JUNIORS TO WATCH: Yet another Landrum is making waves in Sweet Water. "Antonio is our leading receiver and interceptor. He‘s a cornerback for us," Luker said.

Antonio Landrum is 5-9, 150. Damaraquis Williams (5-7, 165) is a gifted runner. Tate Luker, the coaches' middle son, starts on the o-line for the third straight year at 6-4, 185. He may get a look in the spring at tight end, per his dad/coach.

"He's definitely one of our better blockers," said Coach Luker.

SUPER SOPHS: Most know him as a 6-5, 200-pound power forward and basketball coach's son, but Brandon Gottfried is a fast-improving high school receiver. Mark's oldest son had 20 catches for 304 yards and nine touchdowns through nine games. His 16-yard grab help set up ACA's first touchdown.

Sweet Water's Johnny Lockett can hurt you at running back or kick returner. He's 5-8, 185. Sweet Water must have one heck of a track team.

UNDERCLASS ALERT: Sweet Water's Chris Landrum currently backs up Lockett, but is the heir apparent at fullback. Chris is a 6-1, 200 pound freshman.

"There's some good genes in that family," Luker noted.

Luker's "baby boy" is Linc, an eighth grader who is listed as a receiver and defensive back at 6-1, 160.

"He's going to be bigger and probably more athletic than the other two," said dad.

Freshman Daniel O'Quinn (5-10, 185) averages 7.7 yards per carry to lead the Pats' ground game.

NEXT WEEK: Round one of the 2007 AHSAA playoffs gets underway, and FNL will cover as always. Looks like we'll get our first look at the unbeaten Central Falcons, when Opp visits the Druid City.

Central features ace running back DeMario Pippen, nose guard James Brown, and a few other D-1 prospects. source for Alabama high school football.

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