Clarke County (12-0) vs. Calera (11-1)

Calera has been playing good football in the last few years, but this is the most success they have had in a while. They enter the third round of the playoffs off a 13-0 win over Gordo. The match up appeared as a contest of talented offenses, but Coach Mac Thompson knew it would be a defensive battle. He may see another one Friday night.



The Eagles shut out the Green Wave last week and only allowed 132 yards of offense, but the real news is the return of Calera's running back Dominique Wilson.

Wilson rushed for 95 yards on 12 carries with a touchdown last week. The touchdown was a 30 yard second half run. Wilson was injured at the end of September in a game against 5A Shelby County.

Clarke County won 19-16 in overtime over Gordo rival Winfield in a game that saw running back and linebacker Kenneth Kimbrough on the sidelines.

The Bulldogs cut it close scoring with only two minutes left in a turnover riddled game.

Quarterback Tyler Walker added a two-point conversion that tied the game 16-16. Clarke County then survived Winfield's end of game 25-yard field goal attempt as it fell short.

Winfield turned the ball over via interception in their first attempt to score in overtime while Clarke County sent Mark Lambert in for a 20-yard successful field goal attempt on fourth down to win the game and make a date for the Bulldogs at Ricky Cairns Stadium.

ScoutSouth.com talked with Calera coach Mac Thompson this week about the Gordo game and about this week's match up that will boost one team to the semi-finals of 3A championship play.

Rebecca Johnston: What did you get out of the Gordo game?

Coach Mac Thompson: "I think just playing the best defensive team we've played all year. Up front they were real good. There are a lot of similarities between them and Clarke County. We got a good test last week of what we will get this week. They have a lot of big physical kids that can run to the football."

"We're hoping that we understand that as you advance further that everybody you play is going to be good. They are going to have good D-Lineman, skilled guys. They are going to do things that make them winners. We're hoping that game last week prepared us for this week, the size and just the speed of the game.

RJ: Clarke County met a tough opponent last week in Winfield and managed to find a way to win in overtime. What did you see in that game?

MT: "Winfield is just a traditional power. They are very solid against the run. They played extremely hard and if Winfield doesn't have six turnovers it might be a different outcome. But six turnovers had to do with Clarke County pressuring them and putting them in a spot forcing a lot of stuff."

"Gordo is probably the best defense we've played so far, probably until this Friday night. They are extremely athletic, very fast, very big. We know it's going to be a battle."

RJ: You have the home field advantage. How big is that?

MT: "That's good for us. With it being Thanksgiving and people being out and having to travel it's a lot easier being at home instead of having to work around everything. It has it's advantages, being at home and getting our people here. I don't think we've been to the third round since 78-79. So it's big for us around here."

RJ: I would imagine with a holiday weekend and a third round playoff game you will see a big crowd?

MT: "Yes ma'am. I hope so anyway."

RJ: You certainly have threats with Winterbottom and Lacey, but how important is it for your team to get running back Dominique Wilson back in the lineup?

MT: "He's missed the last six (games). Against Shelby County he went out. He had a pin put in his foot. He's worked extremely hard. The time he was off he's been out running and rehabbing, trying to get back."

"With us winning the first round and giving him an opportunity to play in the second round. He was the spark we needed. He came in fresh. He's still probably 90-95-percent, but he gave us a spark off the bench and got a touchdown. That kind of sealed the deal for us."

"We're real excited to have him back, and nobody deserves it more than he does. He's worked his tail off to get back and be a part of the team."

RJ: You did something interesting at the midway point of the fourth quarter. You scored a touchdown earlier and then you scored again at this point, yet you didn't go for the two-point conversion to make it 14-0. Do you think if that conversion fails it is a momentum spoiler sometimes?

MT: "Gordo was going to have to have two scores to win anyway. We thought about going for two, but momentum-wise, we're up and we want to keep everything positive there at the end, kind of like you hit on. You don't want to throw an interception or fumble and them scoop it. Mentally you still want to look sharp there. I feel like we have to."

Calera's quarterback Paul Winterbottom completed 11-of-21 passes for 116 yards and scored a rushing touchdowns.

Clarke County's Tyler Walker completed 5-of-10 passes for 78 yards. Seven of those passing yards went to Tim Barnett who also rushed for 79 yards on 11 carries with two touchdowns.

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