Big Game - Big Recruits

Davidson's Jimmie Ward

Prattville (10-2) is the reigning 6A champion and until someone knocks them off they are the King of the Jungle, Top Predator, Fat Cat and all that goes along with their championship spot.

The Davidson Warriors (10-2) host the Lions which might make for a very interesting night at Lipscomb Field.

Davidson Coach Fred Riley is very respectful when he speaks of Prattville and their record.

"Prattville is 77-2 in-state in the last 79 games," he said. "They have won 64 of the last 65 in-state games. They have won 53 in-a-row in-state games. There has never been anybody like this team in the history of Alabama high school football."

On the other hand, Coach Riley is proud of his own team and deservedly so.

"The last eight years is the best stretch in Davidson football history with a 78-22 record," Riley added.

They are a rarity on the field as well because they run an old-school option offense which defenses rarely see. They also have another irregularity which might not sound so attractive.

"We are unique, unlike other schools, in our diversity," Riley said. "We don't have a feeder system. We get kids from 14 middle schools. We have to transition them into being Davidson Warriors."

Davidson is also an International Baccalaureate school and pride themselves on their ever-growing Engineering Academy.

Coach Riley summed it up.

"We want to play football like Alabama and give our kids educations like Vanderbilt," he said. "We have guys with appointments to the Air Force and Naval Academies, at Samford, a team captain at Tulane."

"We have tremendous support here, and we are very, very proud of our coaches, players and the administration."

The Players

"Jarrell Smith (Sr. 5-11, 175) has played great, but stats-wise it doesn't tell the story. He played with a bad shoulder for six weeks, but he was 100-percent before the Murphy game. He accounts for 80-percent of our offense."

Senior running back Darian Craig (5-10, 190) has more than 1,000 yards on the season and rushed for 165 last week in the 42-7 win over Blount.

While Davidson has a potent offense, scoring more than 27 points per game, their defense has always been a strong suit. They are allowing just less 14 points per game.

Chris Hughes (6-0, 210) was set for a breakout season, but that ended before it began when he went down with a non-contact injury before the season. The senior was out until week six.

"He is just now getting back to full-strength," Riley said. "Chris is playing outside linebacker now. We want our best 11 on the field. Jaquishi Tartt (Sr. 6-2, 190) came from the basketball team and filled in for Chris. He has done such a good job that he's been offered by Samford."

"Pat McNeil (Sr. 6-2, 270) is playing very well up front."

"Jimmie Ward (5-9, 190) is probably the best football player on this team. He leads us in tackles. He has been offered by Jacksonville State and Nicholls State."

How Davidson got here.

We would be remiss if we didn't talk about how Davidson made their way to the quarterfinals and a decision that seemed to ignite this team. Coach Riley's squad survived a first-round scare against Foley 28-27 in double overtime.

The best thing about high school football is to see a coach have the confidence in his team to make decisions like Coach Riley did against Foley.

The Warriors had their back against the wall with fourth and nine when Jarrell Smith hit Rashad Cunningham (Jr. 6-4, 200) for a touchdown. Riley never hesitated with his next decision. They were down 27-26 when the coach called for the two-point conversion, life or death for their football season.

"It tells your team that you trust them. I will always go for two if I have the second possession in overtime," Riley said.

And true to his word, Smith hit Jabrian Niles (Jr. 6-2, 242) for the winning two-points, 28-27.

"It was a defining moment for our football team," Riley said of the win.

The Warriors came out and annihilated Blount last week. Now they face a staggering challenge against Prattville. The Warriors are 0-3 against the Lions. Are they due a victory?

Prattville Players to watch:
Corey Shelton running back committed to Memphis
Sam Gibson quarterback committed to LSU
Quashaun Lee linebacker committed to Arkansas State
Nick Perry safety committed to Alabama

Davidson Players to watch:
Jarrell Smith, proficient quarterback with a lot of responsibility in this offense
Pat McNeil defensive linemen, division 1 offers
Chris Hughes linebacker/defensive back, division 1 offers
Jabrian Niles defensive end, junior with division 1 offers Recommended Stories

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