Linebacker Keaton Anderson
Taking on Irondale (Ala.) Shades Valley High, led by three-star Mississippi commitment Keith Mixon as a dynamic WR/RB threat, Anderson proved to be one of the top talents on the field and arguably Florence (Ala.) High’s best player. He not only clearly led the Falcons in tackles, but he was able to stop Mixon in the open field, something only few can do. He ran well, attacked in all the right angles and seemingly didn’t blow any noticeable assignments.
Anderson was not only good in open space, but he was aggressive within it as if there was support behind him. It enabled the senior to play downhill at the line of scrimmage, even helping limit Mixon to 19 yards of rushing offense.
But perhaps the most impressive thing we saw Anderson do, was lead. Florence was on the verge of being blown out in the second quarter, but he was one of the rallying points of the team, and single-handedly ended a drive with a tackle for loss, setting a stern edge on the next play and pressuring the quarterback into an incompletion on third down. It helped the Falcons grab momentum and close the half well.
Defensive End Christian Bell
Facing one of the top teams in America, Miami (Fla.) Central, Bell was one of Hoover (Ala.) High’s top standouts. Like Anderson, he helped will the Bucs back after a two-score deficit, but his “switch” came on in the fourth quarter with the team’s back against the wall. Bell had multiple sacks and tackles behind the line of scrimmage in this one.
A bit bulked up since the spring, Bell looked like he got off of blocks with more ease on Saturday but he also didn’t seem to lose any burst. His length also enabled him to play a major role against the run, something we’ve looked to see him improve with. He has, and looked like a relentless machine for most of the afternoon.
Even with all of the big plays he made, a small one stood out. Bell had been running around everywhere on this day, lining up at middle linebacker, corner, tackle and end, but he still found the strength to chase down a 200-pound back about 50 yards downfield. The play was away from Bell’s side, but he immediately took his angle, in 100-degree heat in the fourth quarter, and ended up saving a touchdown and allowing his defense to regroup during its comeback.
It will be interesting to see if Bell can keep this up while continuing to add healthy weight, which is the plan.
Defensive End Anfernee Jennings
Still gaining good weight, it will be interesting to see where Jennings lines up at the next level. At around 260 pounds, he is a major force on the inside or outside for Dadeville (Ala.). Playing against Piedmont (Ala.) High, he was able to make four stops, and each was behind the line of scrimmage. Jennings notched two sacks and two traditional tackles for loss on the running back, including one third-down play in which he nearly body-slammed the runner.
As an offensive player, Jennings split-out as a wide receiver and also lined up as an in-line tight end, blocking well and getting open when the ball was to be thrown. He’s already proved more than capable as a pass-catcher and as a runner after the catch at his added size.
Jennings’ most impressive trait is his athleticism despite the added weight. If he could add counter moves to his power-rush and club technique, he could become even more dangerous whether coming off of the edge of battling inside.
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