Mobile, Ala. – McGill-Toolen came close last season to a memorable season. The Yellow Jackets were 9-0 late in the year after knocking off Daphne to win the area and the No. 1. seed in the area. However, they lost the regular season finale and the wheels fell off in the state quarterfinals against Central-Phenix City leaving the Yellow Jackets hungry to make another run at the state championship this season.
"We are very hungry," said senior cornerback Jalen Square after the preseason 27-0 win over Northridge. "We strive to win every game, nothing less."
"We have a bad taste in our mouth about the loss at Central-Phenix City," Lee said. "41-0…"
The effort to get back into the playoffs was evident last Thursday against Northridge, playing against one of the top running backs in the Southeast in Bo Scarborough. The big running back gained some yards, but his Northridge team was held off the scoreboard by McGill-Toolen.
"I heard his name a lot (coming in)," Square said, "but I didn't take much to the situation. I just worried about my team. I didn't worry about anyone else. We played to come out and win and play to our highest expectations. We came to win, and we put the shutout on the board."
Square had a few tackles on Scarborough, including a nice one-on-one tackle in space against a runner who usually doesn't go down on first contact. He also had a devastating hit and forced fumble on a kickoff.
"It was a play-action," Lee said of the post. "The defense bit on the play-action and I was able to get past the cornerback and make a play on the ball.
On touchdown Lee said, "The play was a stop-and-go. The cornerback bit on the fake, and our quarterback made a great throw on the fake. It was a piece of cake."
Smith is highly complimentary of his big target at wideout.
"He's great," Smith explained. "I can make bad throws and he'll make me look good by catching. It's amazing to have a guy like that who you can just throw the ball up to.
"The post came out of my handle like I had punted the ball to him," Smith added. "He was amazing. We practice a lot together so we've got real good chemistry together."
First-year ASU head coach Gus Malzahn was offensive coordinator at Auburn the past three seasons, about three and a half hours from Mobile. Square committed to the Red Wolves on June 30.
"I love it," Square said of his commitment. "I love everything about Arkansas State. I love my commitment with them. They're very Christian-like. I love that about them, and they're always talking about God first.
"I was looking for someone that loved me and that would take me in," he continued. "They were recruiting me the hardest of any school, but there were a lot of other schools heading my way. Arkansas State was the most dedicated, so I decided to go there."
"He (Square) was in my ear the whole time, of course," Lee said. "It feels good to be able to play with him some more. It was a couple of weeks or a month before I committed. He was in my ear the whole time. But Arkansas State was the team that came after me the hardest, and they were the team that I liked the most. I like them a lot.
"I like Arkansas State," Lee added. "I feel like they are a program on the rise, and they have a lot of great offensive minds on the offensive side of the ball. I think I can come in and play pretty well.
"It feels good to have my decision out of my way so now I can stay focused on the season and the task at hand this year," Lee continued. "I don't have to worry about that."
McGill-Toolen starts its regular season at UMS-Wright on Friday.