FNL--Not Much of a Cat Fight

NORTHPORT, Ala. – The Tuscaloosa County Wildcats are No.7 with a bullet in this week's AHSAA 6A rankings and ranked No.6 in the Coaches Poll. That's bullet, as in "faster than a speeding bullet." Team speed abounds in the Wildcat's den, and it was on full display at the new Wildcat Stadium when the host team coasted to a 31-7 win over Clay-Chalkville (2-3).

The visiting Cougars were without their best player, senior quarterback Jesse Carroll, and just couldn't sustain anything on offense as T.C.H.S. jumped out to a 28-0 lead behind a trio of Brett Booth touchdown passes to various speedsters.

County High is now 5-0, and frankly, there are not six better 6A teams in this state than this one. Look for Robert Higginbotham's team to continue its climb up the rankings. To the categories:

TOP PROSPECT: Like last week when FNL did TC vs Hillcrest, it's the man-mountain known as John Michael Boswell. ‘Coach Hig' is accustomed to John Michael, a three-year starter, dominating the opposition. It's when you speak about big No.76 to opposing coaches that their eyes get big and their mouths a little more wide open.

Case in point: Clay-Chalkville coach Brent Smith, "Just his overall size and speed. I don't know if I've seen a big (6-6, 300) guy move like that. He moves around real well. He's a devastating blocker and does a good job. We've (always) got our hands full with him."

SUPER SENIORS: It was disappointing, but understandable, when Smith announced the decision not to play gun-slinging quarterback Jesse Carroll (6-0, 190) against the Cats. Carroll is coming off a separated shoulder and, while he could have played, the coach thought it better to save his senior leader for region play.

"He's our leader on offensee," said Smith.. "You're talking about a guy who threw for 3,200 yards last year. Just a great overall player. We've missed him. We hope to be able to get him back next week."

Count Higginbotham as one not sorry to see Carroll sidelined on this nearly-full-moon-lit night.

"He's an outstanding quarterback," he said. "He was probably the best we faced last year. He's always one you've got be conscious of."

Memphis and UAB are the two schools Carroll hears from most, but Lewis thinks his senior can do better.

"A lot of people have backed off, because they think he wants to play baseball. Realistically, he wants to play (college) football," Lewis said.

Wilcats' safety Hunter Gregory seems to always come up with a big interception when his team needs it most. Friday night was no exception, as Gregory snuffed out a rare C.C.H.S. scoring drive early in the second half and set up one for his team with a clutch pick.

JUNIORS TO WATCH: Wildcats' wideout Caleb Lewis has a knack for getting open and picking up the big score or first down for his quarterback, Booth.

"Caleb was our leading receiver last year, as a sophomore," noted ‘Coach Hig.' "He has a knack of finding that open area. Most of the time, he does a good job of catching the ball in traffic. He's the type of guy you look for at wide receiver."

Speedster Jerome Brown continues to get it done in the Cats' running attack. He's not big, but he can fly. These Cats could field quite a relay team come track season.

Cougars' defensive back Robert Crawford had a key interception early when the game was still in doubt to snuff a Wildcats' drive.

SUPER SOPHS: Remember the following three names as very elusive, quite quick running backs: D.J. Vinson and Kevin Bennett of Clay-Chalkville, and Damian Minor of Tuscaloosa County . None are huge guys, yet, but all have one thing in common: S-P-E-E-D. Lots of it. Quick as hiccups, too. All three of ‘em.

HOW BOUT THAT CATFISH: If you like your fried catfish on the bone, as I do, you're choices these days in the Tuscaloosa area are very limited. The good news: the whole catfish served at Northport's newest eatery, The Front Porch, is downright tasty. Served with a smile, hushpuppies, and your choice of potato, these cats are as good as the ones down U.S. 43 at County High.

NEXT WEEK: The Tornadoes of Pickens County, led by senior star Michael Williams and heralded junior Mardrecas Hood, head up U.S. 82 to visit the unbeaten Patriots of American Christian Academy in Tuscaloosa.

A.C.A. is led by senior quarterback Brad Smelley, and one of is favorite targets is junior receiver Brandon Gottfried. You may have heard of Brandon's dad, Mark. Should be a good contest to cover. source for Alabama high school football.

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