Fairhope, Ala.—When the Fairhope Pirates (8-3) take on the Blount Leopards (10-1) in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs this Friday night it will be hard to top what Coach David Faulkner's team did in round one. Trailing 42-35 to Auburn with less than a minute remaining, Fairhope needed someone to step up and make a play late in the game and that player was junior receiver Nate Andrews.
Lining up in the backfield he slipped out into the flat where quarterback Chase Domino hit him for the touchdown. Domino completed the unlikely win by throwing a two-point conversion to Tanner Martin for the 43-42 win. Domino said for him going to Andrews in the clutch just made sense.
"We had the play called," Domino said. "Nate is our (go-to) receiver. We love having him as our receiver. We like putting him in different spots. We put him in the backfield on that play. My reads are to look at that outside linebacker, see if he's blitzing or playing on him. He was blitzing so I gave it to him right away. So he just walked in. It worked out perfect for us."
A 6-0, 195-pounder, Andrews is a physical receiver who can stretch the field, but also has the power to run through tackles. Starting since his freshman season for the Pirates, the receiver uses his 4.5 speed to make plays all over the field and Faulkner said that is by design.
"Nate is a special player," Faulkner said. "He finds a way to make plays when we need him the most. That's a very great quality to have as a football player. Whenever we need a play, we usually look Nate's way. He continues to deliver for us."
Part of an offense that has put up 30 or more points 10 times in 11 games this season Andrews said that with the veterans they have and a dynamic quarterback that they feel like the offense can carry the load if needed on Friday nights.
"I think the offense is our strength," Andrews said. "We've got a very good offensive line and our quarterback is really good. The coaches just make the right calls too."
One of those calls is finding Andrews no matter where he lines up. With good hands his future is likely at wide receiver, but whether that's as an inside slot receiver or outside remains to be seen. Andrews said to him it doesn't matter where he plays as long as he's on the field.
"Wherever coach wants me to play I'll play," he said. "I just want to help the team out. I have had a good year. I don't know how many catches I have, but I have a lot of yards."
His play has caught the attention of schools from around the South this year as Alabama, LSU, Georgia Tech, and Nebraska are just some of the names he's hearing from at the moment. Still waiting on his first offer he said at the moment he's still looking at everyone and doesn't have any favorites.