Homewood Dominates the State

While several members of the University of Alabama coaching staff were in Jacksonville, Fla. watching five-star quarterback Tim Tebow lead Nease High in his team's semifinal playoff game, Homewood offensive lineman David Ross capped a workmanlike season helping the Patriots to an undefeated state championship season.

Alabama wide receivers coach Charlie Harbison was in attendance at Legion Field, watching Ross play four different spots - left tackle, left guard, right guard and long snapper - in the championship performance.

On third and short of the first series, Homewood moved Ross to left guard instead of left tackle. On the next play he was at right guard. "We did that some against Benjamin Russell because they had some tackles that were really good," Homewood Coach Bob Newton said. "We were playing with a seven-man rotation on the offensive line, and we wanted to keep David in and get out other tackles in there."

Ross got better as the first half wore on, running defenders off the line of scrimmage and blocking downfield until the echo of the whistle. He thought he would have the fourth quarter off as Homewood cruised to a 45-13 victory, but his night wasn't quite over.

"Our long snapper got hurt and I had to go in and long snap two times," David Ross said. "I think I was decent. I was a little jittery because I hadn't done it all season."

Ross' performance would have brought smiles to the faces of Alabama followers who were still in wonderment about the 11 sacks Bama gave up against Auburn. He rarely gave an inch on pass protection in any of Homewood's 16 pass attempts, and challenged once by one of Buckhorn's best defenders, senior Marty Gentle, Ross worked him up the field and eventually to the ground.

Homewood Coach Bob Newton, who coached former Alabama guard and current Carolina Panther lineman Evan Mathis, said Ross is in that elite group.

"We've had some very good offensive linemen at Homewood and David's right up there with those guys. He works hard, he's big and pretty strong. He's got a good heart and he enjoys playing the game. I think they've got a good one."

Homewood had 305 yards in total offense at the half, finishing with 379 for the game.

"The holes were humungous," Patriot quarterback Austin Hubbard said. "I could have ran through them if I had pulled the ball a few more times."

Much to the delight of Alabama fans, Ross short-circuited the recruiting process, committing to Alabama in early October to focus on the rest of his season. The 6-3, 285-pound four-star lineman isn't being fretted over by college coaches, but he figures at the very least to have a chance to impact Alabama's line immediately.

"The process is fun, but after (Alabama) won the Florida game I didn't have any doubts in my mind that's where I wanted to go to school," Ross said. "I felt like if I knew where I wanted to go I promised myself to commit. I don't think there's any reasons to play games with process. It's a delicate process but I feel like if you know where you want to go you should go ahead and commit."

Playing at both tackle and guard Friday night, Ross said he didn't have a preference on his position is college. "Anywhere on the line, I'll play because I just want to get on the field. Wearing that jersey is a lot of history."

Plays of the Night: 1. Buckhorn needed something good to happen and came up with one of the best plays of the night when down 14-0 with 12 minutes to play in the second quarter, 6-4, 209-pound junior linebacker/receiver Lydarius Friend came back on an under thrown pass and snatched it away from two Homewood defenders near the 15-yard line and would-be pass interceptors.

2. Homewood tailback Steve Freeman's first touchdown run of 47 yards came through one of the many gaping holes the offensive line opened up, and gave Homewood a 14-0 lead that would only grow. The first half performance caused some in the Legion Field press box tried to call Homewood the best team in the state, high praise considering the long-term ruling of 6A by Hoover, but not out of the question.

Homewood moves to 6A next season, in the same region as Hoover, where the debate can take on new light. Unfortunately, Homewood has 32 players listed as seniors on the Super Six roster it will lose.

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