Eagles go for third straight against winless Hillcrest

Published 3:37 pm Wednesday, October 11, 2006

By BY BRUCE HIXON – sports editor
Those who determine the outcome of games based on paper probably do not expect the W.S. Neal Blue Eagles to have much trouble when they host the Hillcrest-Evergreen Jaguars Friday for a 7 p.m. Class 4A Region 1 contest.
After all, Hillcrest is 0-6 overall for the season. The Jaguars have been outscored 234-66 in those losses, which comes out to an average margin of defeat of 39-11.
Guess what. Games are not decided on paper.
Hathcock is also aware of who Hillcrest's losses have come against.
The Blue Eagles (4-2 overall and 2-2 in region play) are coming off their first back-to-back wins of the season last Friday when they downed Monroe County 40-7.
While the Blue Eagles scored 40 points for the third time this season Friday, Hathcock said his team's best play came on defense.
Hillcrest is coming off its best opportunity for a win so far last week when it dropped a 28-20 decision to Southside-Selma. That game was tied at 20-20 late in the game when Southside-Selma intercepted a pass and ran it back 51 yards for the game-winning score.
The Jaguars went the first five weeks with eighth grader Justin Nared at quarterback. Last week Hillcrest moved running Derrick Paige (6-0, 172 lb. sr.), who was last year's starting quarterback, back to his original position.
One of Hillcrest's strengths is its size up front. While the Jaguars are young, their offensive line averages 265 pounds a man led by tackles Dexter Chatman (6-1, 293 lb. soph.) and Shannon Salter (6-1, 284 lb. soph.) and guard Freddie Jackson (5-11, 260 lb. jr.). Hillcrest also has some size on its defensive front led by tackle Roderick Rudolph (6-4, 287 lb. sr.). Rudolph is Hillcrest's only senior defensive lineman.
Hathcock says his team needs to continue to approach each game like it is a playoff game.
W.S. Neal's postseason hopes got a bit of a boost last week when Jackson lost to Escambia County. The Blue Eagles moved into a tie for fourth place with Jackson for the final region playoff spot with their win over Monroe County. W.S. Neal travels to Jackson next week.
If Jackson had beaten Escambia County, the Blue Eagles would be one game behind Jackson and tied with Escambia County. Escambia County owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Blue Eagles.