Friday Night Lights Good For Vestavia

VESTAVIA HILLS – The Decatur Red Raiders have a long and proud football tradition, full of playoff wins and great players like ex-Alabama and Oakland star Rolando McClain. This season ended badly for veteran coach Jere Adcock's squad, as the Vestavia Hills Rebels of venerable coach Buddy Anderson pounded the visitors, 38-14, in a first round AHSAA 6A playoff matchup. To the categories:

TOP PROSPECT: Last season, Anderson, not one to hand out tons of accolades, compared his tailback Jordan Johnson (5-9, 178) to former Walker County and Alabama star runner Linnie Patrick, who went on to play in the USFL. Johnson, now a senior, ripped through the Decatur defense for 167 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries, and those stats don't include a 14-yard touchdown called back for holding. He added 49 yards on two kickoff returns.

"Jordan's done a real good job for us this year," Anderson said. "He's a good kid who works hard. His teammates have done a real good job of blocking for him, both the offensive line and the wide receivers."

Said Adcock, "That guy (Johnson) can stick it up inside the tackles or bounce it outside. He's just an outstanding player, and he runs real well. He runs smart. On all the film we watched, I never saw him turn the ball over."

South Alabama and Jacksonville State are two of the schools showing the most interest in Johnson, who also stars on the Rebels track team.

SENIORS WHO SHINED: Decatur quarterback Jackson Fite (6-3, 200) probably wishes he could have a couple of his passes back (like a pick six and intentional grounding), but did lead a late drive that culminated in his two-yard TD run.

The Rebels have their own version of Vinnie Sunseri. He's Brooks Sexton (5-11, 170), and he came up with the aforementioned pick six and added a second interception for good measure.

JUNIORS TO WATCH: Not a ton of big time 11th graders on the Vestavia side, but Patrick Haywood is a very fast wide receiver. Meanwhile, Decatur has a pair of twin brothers Adcock says bear watching, and both showed flashes.

Tay Hayes (5-10, 175) plays cornerback quite well, as demonstrated by solid defense on deep and short throws. He contributes on offense at both tailback and wide receiver. Trey Hayes (6-0, 225) excels at linebacker and showed good lateral movement there while also laying some good blocks on offense from the H-back position.

Terry Green (5-10, 170) had two breakups at the other corner.

SUPER SOPHS: Nolan Turner (6-0, 155) is a solid safety, receiver and punt returner for Anderson, who doesn't play many sophomores.

TELL KIRK I SAID, "HEY!": This week's installment features former Tide linebacker Conley Duncan, who is the sideline reporter on Decatur's radio broadcast. Duncan played for Hartselle before heading to Tuscaloosa, much like ‘BAMA Magazine's Mitch Dobbs.

HOW ‘BOUT THEM ‘DOGS: While Briarwood can lay claim to Birmingham's best burgers, the hot dog champs are the Vestavia Hills Band Boosters. They have the "Rebel Dog," which features their own homemade sauce that reminds one of the classic stadium dogs at Bryant-Denny. This group also arguably serves the best hot chocolate around, which was a good thing on a chilly night.

NEXT UP: It's become an annual tradition for a highly-ranked Auburn commitment to flip to Alabama, and this year that young man is center Josh Casher. He and his Saint Paul's Saints will travel to Alexander City to face Benjamin Russell in next week's edition of Friday Night Nights.

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