Eagles remember last year for rematch against Trinity
Published 7:47 pm Wednesday, November 15, 2006
By BY BRUCE HIXON – SPORTS EDITOR
Games from the previous season usually have little impact a year and a half later, but both the Trinity Presbyterian Wildcats and W.S. Neal Blue Eagles need no reminder about their last encounter.
That came in week five of last year when the Blue Eagles stunned Trinity 7-6 in Montgomery and snapped the Wildcats 45-game regular season winning streak. Even more will be at stake when the teams hook up again Friday, this time at East Brewton, in the second round of the Class 4A state playoffs.
While both teams enter the 7 p.m. contest with identical 9-2 overall records, they advanced out of the first round in vastly different ways. W.S. Neal had to come from behind and hold off Jemison 35-21, while Trinity completely shut down Dadeville 18-0.
Last season's win over Trinity was Blue Eagles coach Blaine Hathcock's first real big victory at the school. Hathcock said his team can take something from that game.
W.S. Neal's offense, which had a string of six straight 40-point point output games snapped at Jemison, will face the toughest defensive unit during its current seven-game winning streak. The Wildcats have one of the better defensive units in the 4A playoff field, as they have limited opponents to an average of 12.7 points a game. Trinity has held five opponents to a touchdown or less.
Trinity also fields arguably the best all-purpose offensive player the Blue Eagles have seen all season with Zack Shaw (6-3, 195 lb. jr.). While Shaw is listed as a wide receiver and has hauled in 58 catches for 640 yards and six touchdowns, he is also Trinity's second-leading rusher with 431 yards and an 8.6 yards per attempt average.
The Wildcats' two-quarterback rotation of Whit Mitchell (6-1, 165 lb. jr.) and Austin Morris (6-5, 190 lb. jr.) is also high on Hathcock's concerns. Mitchell has completed 87 of 140 pass attempts for 792 yards and six touchdowns. Mitchell is also Trinity's leading rusher with 435 yards. Morris has similar numbers, as he has completed 66 of 128 passes for 769 yards and seven touchdowns. Morris is the third-leading rusher with 281 yards.
The W.S. Neal coach said one item the Wildcats have that the Blue Eagles do not is a long-range field goal kicker. Trinity kicker Drew Stokely (5-9, 150 lb. sr.) has hit five field goals.
Senior running back Nykeem Barton's 170 yards rushing against Jemison gave him 1,000 yards for the season. That gives the Blue Eagles a 1,000 yards rusher and a quarterback, Marquis Barksdale, with 1,000 passing yards. Barksdale topped 1,000 yards during the regular season.
The winner of the W.S. Neal-Trinity game will face the Cleburne County (8-2), Thomasville (10-1) winner next week in the quarterfinals. If W.S. Neal wins, the Blue Eagles will host Cleburne County and travel to Thomasville.