“The loud fans, the green grassy field, the smell of the concession stand. Everything comes to a natural balance here. It’s where my crazy dad’s Eagles have gone 17-3 in three years. It’s where good meets bad. Calera is a powerhouse. Nobody thinks they are going to come in here and get an easy win. That’s like eating gravy with turnip greens, you just don’t do it. But of course the best thing about the game is just being out there. The lights shining brightly down on you, the fans screaming and yelling for the team. That is why this is such a great place.”
Kolby lost his dad to a massive heart attack in February, 2010, just a year after Coach Thompson left Calera to coach Cook County High in Adel, Ga. Kolby has graduated but two of Coach Thompson’s sons still play for the Eagles, and on this night they hosted a first round AHSAA 5A playoff game against the Vigor Wolves, who journeyed by bus up I-65 north from Prichard. The Wolves brought with them an Alabama running back commitment. They took home a loss. Final score, in mid ‘40’s temperatures, was Calera 28, Vigor 26.
To the categories:
TOP PROSPECT: That would be the afore-mentioned Bama pledge, senior halfback DeSherrius Flowers (6-1, 205). Flowers can play several positions, notably halfback, fullback, or H-Back at the SEC level, but he said Nick Saban is telling him he’ll be a running back when spring practice opens for the January enrollee. Flowers ran for 70 yards on 16 carries Friday, a number that would have been much higher had he not been playing hurt and not had a 51-yard run called back on a penalty.
“It’s been real yeoman’s work he’s done, because (Flowers) has played on a hurt ankle all season,” said Vigor Coach Ashley Johnson. “The first game of the season versus 7A McGill-Toolen, he scored a touchdown on the first drive, 20 yards, and going in the end zone, he got tackled and twisted his ankle. He’s just never been himself. He’s been able to work through it, and continue to play off and on, but hasn’t ever been 100 per cent. He’s such a tough kid, he loves the team, and wants to do whatever he can for them.”
Added Calera Coach Wiley McKellar, who coached Alabama freshman Ronnie Clark: “(Flowers) is big and fast, and just a real physical kid. You have to bring everything you’ve got to bring him down.” (McKellar added that he hears from Clark “every day,” and Clark expects to be back at safety this spring after a short stint at running back. He said Clark is enjoying Tuscaloosa.
Flowers, who gives very few interviews, said he visited Tuscaloosa three weeks ago for the Texas A&M game and will return for the Western Carolina contest. Regarding playing through the ankle injury, he said, “It’s been tough for me. I’ve been able to overcome it for some games, and I’ve played through it.” He appeared to slightly reinjure the tender ankle on the long run to the 2 that was called back, but he played the majority of the team’s offensive snaps like a trooper. Interestingly, he also threw a 51-yard touchdown pass on a trick play.
In addition to Saban, Flowers said he hears most from Tide coaches Lance Thompson, who recruits Mobile, and Burton Burns, his future positon coach.
SENIORS WHO SHINED: Coach Thompson’s middle son is 6-1, 295-pound Ethan, and he could well get a chance to play at the 1AA or D-2 level at guard or nose tackle. He is a solid high school lineman. One of the men Ethan blocks for is talented running back Shakeith Tyes (5-10, 190), who FNL wrote about last year when we did the Clark scout. Tyes scored four times and ran for over 200 yards Friday. He has over 2,000 yards and 35 touchdowns for the season. Another man who opens holes for Tyes is tackle Adam Meadows (6-3, 315), and he, too, has a chance to continue his career at the next level.
For Vigor, linemen Josh Williams on offense and defender Montrez Lang are prospects, while the Wolves secondary is led by D.J. Williams (5-7, 160), who makes up for lack of height with lots of heart. He is also a dangerous kick returner.
JUNIORS TO WATCH: Trey Jones is a solid, 6-0, 170-pound defensive back for Calera. His secondary mate, Josh Harrell, is fast and brings the lumber at 6-0, 185.
SUPER SOPHS: Thompson’s youngest son, tackle Mackenan, who is already 6-4, 265, is one to watch. He plays right tackle now, but may well swing over to the left side when Meadows graduates.
Mackenan Thompson will be heard from in the coming years in recruiting circles. Said McKellar: “He’s a taller kid, but he’s physical just like (brother) Ethan is. He has stepped in and done a fantastic job for us at right tackle, and we’re expecting big things from him in the future.” The younger Thompson replaced junior Tyler Pritchett, who transferred to Auburn High.
For Vigor, Charles Crawford is a 5-8, 160-pound safety who Johnson feels has SEC potential. Elusive quarterback Cameron Williams is slightly built at 5-8, 150, but he’s no fun to chase and his arm is not bad. Accuracy is an area for improvement.
HOW ‘BOUT THEM BURGERS: It had been a few years since FNL journeyed to Calera (our scout of Clark last year was a road game in Columbiana), so it was time to test the burgers at Ricky M. Cairns Memorial Stadium again. The results? Good. The meat was cooked just below well done, not too crispy, and the fries were hot and crispy. For the third straight week, hot chocolate was both needed and tasty.
UP NEXT: FNL takes a second round playoff bye, as opening night of Alabama’s basketball season in Tuscaloosa takes place against Towson. Prior to that, I’ll take in the Nick at Noon luncheon as Saban previews the Mississippi State game. Playoff coverage resumes in two weeks.