It was a frustrating night of football for Opp Bobcats coach Jack Whigham. The unbeaten Central Falcons presented enough of a challenge to Whigham’s team without the numerous dropped passes by Bobcat receivers, which helped contribute to Central’s runaway, 57-13 win in round one of the AHSAA 4A playoffs.
After the sixth drop of an accurate pass by Opp senior quarterback Cody Hall, I stopped counting.
"We kind of exploded in the second quarter,” said Central coach Melvin Pete. “We were able to capitalize on some things.”
Even if Hall’s receivers had concentrated more, Central would have still won, as the Falcons ran and passed the ball at will. Central advanced to face Elmore County on the road next Friday. Opp’s season ended with a 6-5 record.
TOP PROSPECT: Tailback DeMario Pippen’s teammates at Central have a nickname for him: “Super Mario.” He lives up to it. By halftime, Pippen had already run for 106 yards and two touchdowns, including a 42 yarder, to lead the Falcons to a commanding 44-13 lead at intermission.
Whigham couldn’t help but notice the power (Pippen) ran with, "He has power and explosion. He doesn’t seem to take any plays off. He runs the ball equally well in traffic as he does in space. He has some moves, but he probably runs about as good in traffic as anybody I’ve ever seen.”
Pippen checks in at 5-9, 195. He finished with 177 yards on 13 carries.
Central’s Pete knows the gem he has in “Super Mario.” Pete pointed out that Pippen “has been super (that word again). “He can tote the mail.”
SENIORS WHO SHINED: Opp’s Hall (6-2, 205) deserved a much better fate before having to leave the game late in the first half with an injury. All but a pair of his passes were accurate, catchable spirals. For whatever reason, his receivers struggled.
Receiver Albert Wilson (5-10, 160) is quick and can play in the secondary, too. He did struggle with hanging on to the ball on this night. It was contagious. To his credit, Wilson has five defensive TDs this year.
Central receiver Marcellos Wilder (6-3, 197) proved to be a thorn in the Bobcats’ side. He had a 39-yard touchdown grab and a few others to set up scores.
“He doesn’t run sloppy routes. He runs good crisp routes,” Whigham said. Wilder’s older brother, Diontay, is a 6-foot-9 boxer with a great shot at the U.S. Olympic team.
“Marcellos is a big game player,” said Pete. “When the lights come on, he’s ready to play. He’s a go-getter.”
Central’s now 11-0 for many reasons, and one of them is defensive and offensive lineman James “Bear” Brown, who is every bit of 6-3, 285. He will play inside in college, but is athletic enough to come off the edge for the Falcons.
Pippen is not the only running back in the Falcons’ arsenal. Derrick Cade ran for one TD and FOUR 2-point conversions in the first half. All on the same play. Opp had no answer for Cade or Pippen.
JUNIORS TO WATCH: Opp’s Chris Carlton (5-10, 195) can play at the 1AA or D-2 level per his coach. Bobcats athlete Deontay Green can play a number of positions for Whigham. He’s 6-0, 185, with a 4.5 in the 40.
Falcons receiver Corey Waldon (5-10, 170) can take over a game catching the ball or returning kicks. Wilder and Waldon improve their skills in practice because they go against one of the top junior cover corners in the state, Jonathan Edwards.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Edwards picked off his seventh, eighth and ninth passes of the season Friday. He’s a name to watch very closely next year.
SUPER SOPH: Opp fullback Josh Scarbrough (5-10, 195) has a nose for the goal line and showed it on a one-yard TD run. He’s already a 4.5 guy.
HOW 'BOUT THEM BURGERS: I used to think Mugshots downtown had T-town’s best burger. That was before I recently had the culinary privilege of checking out a new place on the meat-and-bun scene: Rachel’z Burger Shak, located on Highway 43 in Northport next to Dollar General. These burgers are hand-patted, cooked-to-order ground chuck, and they come with hand-cut fries. The lettuce, tomatoes and onions are farmer’s market fresh. The sweet tea is consistently good. And if you order a mushroom burger, the ‘shrooms are sautéed just right. Anthony and Regina Foster know what a good burger is, and the owners of Rachel’z are now showing the rest of us.
NEXT WEEK: FNL travels to Bessemer for a second look at the St. Paul's Saints, who visit Jess Lanier at Snitz-Snyder Stadium. The Saints feature such prospects as Mark Barron, Ivan Matchett, Destin Hood and AJ McCarrron.
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