FNL: Lions Jumped By Jags In Playoffs

BIRMINGHAM – It was a jungle out there, this second round AHSAA 6A tackle football playoff game at Spain Park, home of the Jaguars. From the deep woods of Baldwin County came the Foley Lions, who seemingly were up to the task for this cat fight. When all was said and done, Spain Park advanced to round three with a 30-21 win. To the categories:

TOP PROSPECT: I've worn no. 21 nearly my whole "athletic" career, but even when I was up to 6-4, 299 I was never as imposing as Foley's no. 21. Meet Darius Paige, because multiple SEC quarterbacks and running backs will in the coming years. He's listed at 6-3, 275, but it's distributed quite differently than my current 6-4, 260 is. (This is a good thing for Paige, trust me).

"Darius has done a good job of gelling with our kids," said Foley coach Todd Watson, a former Hoover offensive coordinator from the Rush Propst era, of his Pensacola transfer. "He's a good young man, with a great personality."

Added Spain Park coach Chip Lindsey, "He's a physical specimen who moves well and has a good motor. He's the best defensive lineman we've played against."

Paige is firmly committed to Alabama, and is expected to qualify. On some plays he is a beast, and on others, not so much. Every-down consistency will come, but it may have to wait until Tuscaloosa.

SENIORS WHO SHINED: It's hard to shine brighter than Nick Mullens has the past four years for Spain Park. He entered the game Friday with 8,081 career passing yards, nd was just 90 yards shy of seventh all-time in AHSAA passing yardage. He went 18/22 passing for 238 yards and six scores against the Lions. (Thanks to Jeff Sentell of Al.com for the records info.) Mullens passed a guy named John Parker Wilson for seventh place.

According to his mom, Suzanne Mullens, Nick has firm offers from Jacksonville State and Georgia State and is being evaluated closely by Western Kentucky, Middle Tennessee and Furman. Lindsey said this two weeks ago on FNL, and I'll say it once more: Someone is going to get a good one. .

Another Jag who has had a nice senior year is punter John Pizzitola, who gets height and length on his kicks. If his name sounds familiar to long-time Tide fans, it's because his uncle, Alan Pizzitola, was the first in a long line of successful No. 4's when he played defensive back for Paul Bryant in the 1970's.

For the Lions, offensive lineman R.J. Hulse (6-7, 324) is the first guy you want getting off the bus at road games. Even before Paige. Much like Mullens, Hulse is underrated and under-recruited.

JUNIORS TO WATCH: It's kind of eerie, really, and yes, I know Halloween was 16 days ago. Thing is, when you look at No. 8 for Foley, who is a 6-4, 211 pound wide receiver, you kind of see – dare I say it – a former Foley wide-out named Julio Jones (who actually wore No. 82 at Foley, but his wearing 8 in Tuscaloosa certainly played a role in this guy wearing it). This guy? Demarcus Bingham, who caught six balls for 85 yards against the Jags Friday.

"DeMarcus has done a good job this year making big plays within our offensive system," said Watson.

Lindsey added, "He's long and lean, and he's a threat down the field every time they snap it."

Bingham and Bama have a mutual interest in each other at this juncture. Other schools in the race for the rangy receiver include Auburn, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Tennessee, Texas Tech, UAB, and Vanderbilt, according to his Scout.com profile.

SUPER SOPHS: Foley has quite the sophomore class according to Gulf Coast observers. Some names to remember are cornerback Deforrest Perdue (5-11, 145), running back Isahiah Lewis (5-8, 229), and linebacker/end Caleb Bankston (6-0, 215).

HOW BOUT THAT ‘SKHETTI: There is good news for fans of the now-defunct Leonardo's Italian Restaurant, formerly in the Vestavia Hills area. The menu has been resurrected and the ownership is the same at a new location: Tony's Spaghetti House, in the Brook Highland Shopping Plaza off US 280 in North Shelby County. Owner Tony is still serving up piping hot plates of spaghetti, lasagna, and pretty much any other Italian dish you can think of. Those garlic rolls? They're back, too. The service staff is a work in progress in month one, but progress is being made in that area. The kitchen folks are as good as ever.

NEXT UP: After being pre-empted by Alabama basketball next week, FNL will return for a final installment on Nov. 30 with a key semifinal matchup to be determined. One thing that game will determine is a trip to Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium, site of the this year's AHSAA Super Six.

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