FNL: Gophers, Winston race to victory

HUEYTOWN, Ala.-Two of the top junior prospects in the state of Alabama, and, for that matter, the southeast United States, squared off in this tiny hamlet known more historically for producing NASCAR drivers than star quarterbacks. The NASCAR title was called the Winston Cup. Now, the race is for the talents of one Jameis Winston, whose Golden Gophers upset McAdory, 36-21 for a huge region win.

To the categories:

TOP PROSPECTS: This game, as noted above, featured two. Both are members of the class of 2012. Hueytown's Jameis Winston, listed at 6-4, 190, has added good weight, strength, and speed since FNL last visited Hueytown a year ago.

"He‘s done a great job, as you would expect," said Hueytown coach Matt Scott. Thought we‘d be a pass-first, run second team this year, but so far, it hasn‘t really worked out that way. If you need a drop-back passer, he can be that, but if you need him to run the ball, he can do that, too. He's just having a really great season for us."

Said McAdory coach David Powell, "He's amazing. Amazing. He can do it all. He can run it, and he can throw it. He's a very accurate passer, a very explosive runner, and a very physical runner."

Winston finished, unofficially, 9-11 passing for 139. He rushed for another 106 yards, and clinched the win on his sixth and final run of the night, a designed quarterback keeper for 58 yards, pay dirt, and the first and only two-score lead

Another thing Winston excels at is carrying out fakes. Homer Smith would call some of his plays "Burgorfian," as Smith always felt ball fakes were the high point of Brian Burgdorf's game. (THERE's a blast from the Bama past.)

Then there's rising star Marcus Turner, a 5-10, 160-pounder who plays a huge role in Powell's defense.

"Marcus has been starting for us since his freshman year. Now that he's a junior, we count on him to control half the field. Last week, he had a 100-yard interception return against John Carroll that really broke the game open. He has another ‘pick six‘ this year, too. On kick returns, he's very explosive if he gets it in his hands. He‘s just an outstanding player."

Scott knows Turner's side of the field won't usually be the first read.

"Just phenomenal speed," he said. "And good size to go with it. He's a force to be dealt with. A phenomenal athlete, with great closing speed, who hits like a linebacker."

The few times Hueytown threw, it was either away from or underneath turner. He was not used on kick returns, and the Gophers never punted, so its not known if he'd have been back on those.


Running back Ronald Stewart (5-8, 160) runs pretty hard for his size, and has decent speed He gets things done in Hueytown's running game. Stewart punished the Jackets all night on a night when Scott chose to keep the ball on the ground. His 21-yard dash to open the scoring was a thing of beauty.

McAdory quarterback/safety Brandon Bender (5-10, 170) is one of the flashiest, and most under-rated players, in metro Birmingham. He has Palmeresque moments. One such moment occurred when he went back to pass in the first period, couldn't find a receiver, and scrambled for a 49-yard score. He does it all.


This week this category should read "Other Juniors to Watch," as the best two are the headliners. But, Hueytown defensive back Joshua Jordan (5-9, 160) and receiver Hunter Scott (5-10, 170) are solid players.


It was good to see Hueytown alum and former Tide baseball star Jeremy Brown in the stands with his family, supporting the old alma mater now that his pro baseball career is over. Brown looks like he could still put on the catcher's gear.


Also on hand at Gilmore-Jones Stadium, Morris Higginbotham Field was Scout.com's Andrew Bone, who will post video highlights of Winston you don't want to miss.


For some time, it's been hard to find a Jefferson County restaurant with good catfish on the bone, of the fried variety. Thankfully, Ezell's Fish Camp is now open near Visionland in Bessemer. Thanks to pal JTBAMA and waitress Allison, I was able to breeze in and out in record time, but still enjoy the fish, excellent baked potato, and piping hot hush puppies. There's also a Trussville location. Put it on your list if you like catfish. You won't be disappointed.


Daryl Collins, a wide receiver committed to Alabama, brings his Gadsden City Titans to Hoover against a Bucs team that, frankly, looks unbeatable. Speaking of Hoover, no less than four ex-Buccaneers who played for then-coach Rush Propst will be on the field in Durham on Saturday. That list includes Tiders Kerry Murphy, Josh Chapman, and Will Lowery, along with Duke's starting center, Bryan Morgan. All are FNL alums, though Lowery did not get as much ink here as the others. Propst, to his credit, did make sure I knew about Lowery, though. If the Tide comes out in it's dime package, Lowery would likely make his first start.

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