The game pitted two of the state's top juniors, both of whom are already high on recruiter's lists, as evidenced by the presence of at least two division one coaches at the contest. To the categories:
TOP PROSPECTS: As mentioned, two of the state's top juniors met in this contest. Most folks know about Briarwood's Tim Castille, and he certainly didn't disappoint. Tim (5-11, 210) had nine receptions for 132 and rushed 10 times for 58 more. He's also a nifty kick returner. Due to a growth spurt, he will likely be a tailback in college.
"Tim has played a lot of great football for us over the years," said Yancy of his prize player who has started on the varsity since eighth grade. "We probably take him for granted, but at the same time he loves to play football. He's surrounded by some good players, and we like getting him the football. He does a great job for us. We're tickled to have him."
On the visitors side was Matt Caddell, a WR/FS/KR who came into the contest averaging over 30 yards per punt return and ranked among metro Birmingham's top pass receivers. On this night, the Lions hemmed Matt in, keying on him after he burned them repeatedly on receptions, reverses and kick returns (despite losing a tight game) last year in McCalla.
"He's just a quality person and a great player," said McAdory Head Coach David Powell of his star. "Positive in all situations. I can't say enough good things about him. They definitely contained him a little bit. Briarwood's a great defense, and that's just the way it went tonight."
Caddell did have a great catch for 25 yards on a third and long play, where he went up between a pari of Lion defenders and held on to the ball despite a vicious hit. He was held to 47 total yards this year, after rolling up well over 100 last year. Caddell will be high on recruiters' lists next year and, like Castille, grades should not be a problem. Everyone knows about Tim's dad, former Tide star DB Jeremiah, who teaches and coaches at BHCS. Matt's father is a longtime shop teacher at McAdory.
OTHER JUNIORS OF NOTE: For Briarwood, defensive lineman Brad Acton (6-4, 230) is beginning to hear from colleges. Westby Anderson and David Eady (both in the 5-9, 160 range) both showed skills. For McAdory, Louis Tolbet is a fine defensive back who also placekicks.
SENIORS WHO SHINED: We normally begin with the 12th-graders in FNL stories, but made exception this week due to the Castille/Caddell matchup. Briarwood OLB Steve Tennin (6-2, 200) has visited Tide games unofficially this year already. He put vicious hits on MHS ballcarriers on more than one occasion. Tennin's teammates LB Mark Miller (5-11, 205) and WR Justin Worthington (5-8, 150) also played well and could get looks.
Yellow Jacket WR Rufus Sheppard is among metro Birmingham's top pass-catchers and caught at least one recruiting guru's eye. Bradley Hyche has been a fine tailback for McAdory throughout his career, and linebackers Navarre Jones and Johnny Baldwin are hitters.
SUPER SOPHS: As mentinoned last week, its not often a tenth grader can start on the offensive line at this level, but McAdory's Jacob Lewis is doing it. On the d-line, Andre Moultry is first team for the Jackets. (Heights/weights were unavailable for MHS players.)
Briarwood has a pair of sophs that caught FNL's eyes last year as freshmen. Both has gotten bigger and better this year. QB Joe Craddock (5-10, 155) must be a very similar player to what Tyler Watts was his tenth-grade year at Pelham. Joe calmly hit 10 of 18 for 177 yards against the stingy MHS defense,and showed scrambling skills, too.
The most improved Lion FNL noticed? CB Simeon Castille (6-0, 160). Tim's father/position coach Jeremiah agrees. "He's grown physically, weight and height, and he's just matured," said Jeremiah. "He's playing at the level that we expect him to play and I think he's gonna get even better."
BEST TRIBUTE: All across America, in the states that chose to go on with their high school games, the victims, families and heroes of the tragedy that befell our country on Tuesday were remembered. At Briarwood, the home and visiting cheerleaders, dance teams, flag corps and marching band members formed a large circle on the field, with each student holding a lit candle. The moving tribute included scripture reading, prayer and the singing of patriotic songs. At least one crusty reporter teared up while singing "America the Beautiful" and "God Bless America."
BEST PERSPECTIVE: Veteran Head Coach Fred Yancy of Briarwood said it best following the contest: "I've been coaching 32 years, and this is one of the toughest weeks I've ever had as a coach. I didn't ask the kids to get fired up. I knew better than to ask them for any emotion. All I asked was for them to like playing football enough to do a nice job, to give me a solid effort. I knew their emotion had been spent. You could lose yourself in the game, for a little while. But even on the sideline, you'd find yourself thinking about people digging folks out of the rubble, and we're down here enjoying a football game."
HOW 'BOUT THEM BURGERS: This should probably have been listed among the certainties above, as the burgers at McAdory last year and Briarwood this year were among the finest FNL has encountered. The Briarwood Stadium concession crew is to be commended for a warm, char-broiled piece of meat, and the condiment table was well-stocked. Bonus points for the picnic tables promoting family-style eating.
BEST FILM STUDY: On one play, Jeremiah yelled to his son before the snap, "Here it is Simeon! In the flat!" Indeed, the MHS play went that way and Simeon made the stop.
FACE TIME: FNL has long believed that a good way to know if a good Friday night game was chosen to cover is by the number of college coaches on hand to see the prospects. Right now, we're in a time where coaches can't talk to players but can attend their games and be "seen" by the prospects. On hand at Briarwood were UA assistant Stan Eggen (who had seen the first half of Mountain Brook's Grant Brigham's game before heading to North Shelby County) and UAB's John Neal.
BEST BANNER: It hung beneath the Briarwood pressbox, was red, white and blue and read simply, "God Bless America."
NEXT WEEK: Selma's Saints and their star WR, Ben Obomanu, head to Cramton Bowl in Montgomery to face the Lee Generals.