Piedmont vs. Fultondale

The Fultondale Wildcats will come screeching into Piedmont tonight for a matchup with Coach Steve Smith's talented Bulldogs. Coach Smith took some time this week with to discuss their season and this opening round game.

Rebecca Johnston: You've had a very successful season this year and actually gave the highly regarded Fyffe a better game than most (48-20).

Coach Steve Smith: The score was probably a little closer than the game. Actually, they were way up on us at the end. They scored a couple of late touchdowns. I wouldn't say that we played them very tough, but the biggest thing is that our kids are starting to believe a little bit, and that's always a good thing."

"If they can buy into what you are trying to teach them, and we have actually played a lot better the last four weeks. Hopefully we are peaking at the right time."

RJ: Fultondale started the season like a giant killer, but the last three weeks have not been kind to them.

SS: They played 7-0 and were ranked No.6 in the state at one point in time. They lost a three point game and a one point game, and each of those games determined their region. Those were both games that they had chances to win, and they just fell a little bit short."

"We're looking at an opponent here that could just as easily be 10-0 with a couple of breaks. We fully understand what's in front of us. It's going to be a tremendous challenge this week because we feel like they are a quality team."

RJ: Do you think their youth may play into your hands?

SS: We're young too, so it's kind of a young versus young, but I think both teams do have a good mix of older kids sprinkled in. We have eight seniors on the roster, and five of them start."

"They have 10-11 seniors, and they've got enough seniors mixed in there. They've got some really good skilled guys that are 10th graders, but then they've got a senior quarterback that is an experienced guy that makes a lot of plays for them."

"I view our experience, or lack thereof, as a wash because we are both in the same boat. I think we start sophomores and 10 juniors, and they start about six sophomores also."

RJ: Talk about your quarterback Chase Childers.

SS: Chase has done a good job for us. He's still making some mistakes on the field. He had a couple of interceptions on the field last week against Ranburne that came at inopportune times. For the most part he's done a good job of managing the games and not turning the ball over."

"I think even with those two that gave him six interceptions on the year, and we throw it a little bit more than average. We probably throw the ball 15-16 times a game. So six interceptions over 150-160 attempts is pretty good."

"I've expected a lot out of him. He knows there's a lot of expectations placed on the quarterback in the system we run, and for the most part he's done a good job. He's progressed nicely as the season has gone along."

RJ: What about D'Eric Jackson?

SS: He's done a great job. He's a kid that moved here from Lineville this year. He went to school at Piedmont through ninth grade, and then he transferred to Lineville for his 10th and 11th grade years."

"He played down there on the Lineville teams that went to the semi-finals each year, and he was a significant contributor on those teams. He's added another dimension to our team as far as being able to be a guy that's versatile and can play numerous positions."

"He's equally as dangerous running the ball as he is catching the football. He's given us some big plays in the return game too. He's fit in really well with what we are trying to do."

RJ: What will you need to win this game?

SS: We've got to do a good job defensively. I think the game is going to come down whichever team plays better defense. I think both teams have an assortment of guys on the offensive side of the ball that can make plays, but when you get to the playoffs it strictly comes down to who can play good defense."

"That's cliche' and that's old coach talk I know, but that's what it's going to boil down to is making good plays."

RJ: Talk about your leading tacklers on defense.

SS: Daniel Hammett is a junior linebacker for us. Actually, our top two tacklers are our inside linebackers. They are both juniors, Daniel Hammett and Winston Minton.

"In our scheme of things we play a 3-4 defense, and we are designed to keep guys off our linebackers for them to make plays. Those guys have done a really great job of making a lot of plays for us."

"Our defense has been an area that we sought out to improve on from day one of the offseason. I feel better about our overall quickness on defense and our ability to get to the ball. I think that's been a key factor to our success this season."

RJ: Who will you need to stop from Fultondale?

SS: "Well, Fultondale does a really good job. They spread the ball around. They run a Wing-T on offense, and their fullback and both of their halfbacks are big time threats with the ball in their hands."

"Their quarterback makes a lot of plays scrambling. He throws the ball pretty well, and like I say he does a great job when he breaks containment of making plays with his feet. I don't really have any one person in particular. We've just got to do a good job of stopping them on the offensive side period."

RJ: You come in with a win and Fultondale comes into the playoffs with a loss. Any advantage there?

SS: "Not really. You've heard old coaches say it before, but when you get to the playoffs everybody has the same record. For various reason I've found that a lot of people take different approaches to those game "tens" (last game of season, out-of-region) with people that might be a little bit banged up and a little bit injured. Resting a starter here or there that may not be at 100-percent."

"We kind of subscribe to the other theory. Here at Piedmont we want to win every game that we play. We didn't play last week any different than we would any other time. We played to win game 10."

"I'm not one of those people that can play a game thinking about the next week, but I know a lot of coaches that do. I don't read a whole lot into their game 10 with West Blocton because they had a couple of guys that were banged up that didn't play a lot. I know we will see them this week in the playoff game."

RJ: What do you see from your region for the playoffs?

SS: We're in Region 7, and I know about those teams and all of my non-region games were against teams from Region 6. We played Woodland, Ranburne and Ohatchee. I have a pretty good feel for that region."

"I don't know a whole lot about Region 5, which is the region that Fultondale is coming from. I know nothing about Region 8 which is the on the other side of the state with Red Bay and Addison. But with all that being said my pick to represent North Alabama in Birmingham is going to be Fyffe. Until somebody proves otherwise. I have not seen another team this year that I felt could play with Fyffe."

RJ: Do you think the loss of their senior running back Michael Wooden (broken and dislocated ankle) will hurt them?

SS: "That would hurt a lot of teams. He is a great player, and don't get me wrong, but they've got about six running backs they play every game. He's darn good. I'm not saying that he's not a loss, but if anybody can absorb a loss at a position like that and put someone that is equally capable in there of doing the job it would be Fyffe." source for Alabama high school football.

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