Preview: Hueytown vs. Jess Lanier
Backed by a solid running game last season, the Golden Gophers compiled 227 yards in the first half alone, and managed to overtake a Jess Lanier lead before the half that they would ultimately hold until the end of the game.
This year Hueytown comes into Friday's night game looking at the same scenario and facing a very talented Jess Lanier Purple Tiger team with a giant chip on its shoulder.
This season marks the last season Jess Lanier High School will be in existence before it turns into the new Bessemer City High and the Purple Tigers culminated a 7-3 showing that missed the playoffs last season.
Led by linebacker LaDarius Owens, a 6-foot-3, 230 lb. senior linebacker, defensive end and running back who is garnering attention from just about every major college program in the southeast, the Jess Lanier Purple Tigers come into this matchup confident after a 33-27 victory over Fairfield last week.
The Golden Gophers are responsible for knowing where Owens is on the field at all times. Owens has the speed and ability to play anywhere on the field, and has the game changing ability to make plays for the Jess Lanier Purple Tigers.
Owens' schools of major interest include Mississippi State, Florida State, Alabama, the Tennessee Volunteers, the Auburn Tigers, and the Arkansas Razorbacks.
"It's not every week you play a kid like Owens," said Hueytown head coach Matt Scott. "We just want to limit his impact, but we haven't made any changes to our game plan."
Though the Purple Tigers resemble a collegiate defense with Emmanuel Omere, a 6-4, 230 lb. defensive end coming off the edge, Owens heading the linebacker corps, and 5-11, 230 lb. linebacker Jeremy Robertson manning the strong side linebacker position, the real concern for the Purple Tigers is depth.
Hueytown sophomore quarterback Jameis Winston is continually becoming one of the most highly-touted quarterbacks in the state entering his second year behind center for the Golden Gophers. The 6-foot-4, 180 lb. quarterback is a dual threat behind center, giving the Golden Gophers a versatile leader in the pocket.
"Winston has adapted well to the new offense," said head coach Matt Scott. "He is physically talented being both a gifted runner and passer and has a mind for the game."
Last year Winston was responsible for two scores in the contest, throwing a four-yard TD pass, and running in another from 19 yards out.
This projects as a battle Friday night of two stout defenses looking to establish a reputation in the division.
For the Hueytown Golden Gophers, the offense looks to Winston as its leader, and relies on a steady running game to control the game and keep the opposing team's defense off the field.
Jess Lanier Purple Tigers want to control the clock with a steady running game, take care of the football and look for its defense and special teams to make plays that result in points for the Purple Tigers.