UMS-Wright vs. Williamson

The 1986 Gadsden Tigers actually set a precedent for this year's UMS-Wright Bulldogs. The '86 squad came into the 5A playoffs with a 4-5 record. UMS-Wright entered the 2007 championships with a 4-6 record.

Coach Vince DiLorenzo's Tigers defeated Guntersville 18-14 in the first round. Coach Terry Curtis Bulldogs stunned McAdory 23-20.

Gadsden defeated Athens 10-9 in the second round of the playoffs. UMS-Wright did them two points better with a 3-0 victory over Eufaula.

The third round of the playoffs the GHS Tigers faced Cullman and came away with victory. In fact, Gadsden never stopped winning until they took down the championship.

That is what UMS-Wright hopes to do in 2007. This week's speed bump is a tough Williamson Lions group who have beaten their first two opponents in the playoffs 72-7.

UMS-Wright met Williamson in the sixth week of the season that resulted in a 60-41 loss. Those 41 points were the second biggest total scored all year by the Bulldogs and would have won their other three region games.

In fact, if you look deeper into the Bulldogs' six losses you will see they played three 6A squads, two of which are in the final eight teams in that class and both are undefeated. The third team also made the playoffs, Fairhope.

St. Paul's and Williamson were two of the remaining three losses and are also still alive late in the playoffs. Vigor was the sixth opponent, and they were knocked out in the second round.

With this in mind, we spoke with longtime coach Terry Curtis. Curtis celebrated his 100th win at UMS-Wright earlier this year. Although Coach Curtis had many other wins prior to his arrival at the preparatory school.

Rebecca Johnston: Did you ever foresee, in the middle of the season (1-5), that you would be in this position?

Coach Terry Curtis: (laugh) Well, you always hope so, but I don't know if I could foresee that. I just knew we were playing some very good teams, and that if we could right the ship we could be decent. The guys improved and we finally got the players in the right spots. It just kind of started going our way a little bit.

RJ: You've had a lot of success in your career. Where does a year like this, having this kind of success post-season measure up in your memories of seasons past?

TC: Well, it will be one of the top, just from where we've come from. Not a lot was expected. I'm not sure that didn't hurt us early in the year. The kids have been told that this was going to be a down year, a rebuilding year."

"Our second year in 5A, and I'm not sure some of them didn't believe some of that stuff. It was kind of hard to start to get those thoughts out of their heads and to get them to start concentrating on what they could handle and what they did have something to do with."

"I think now they are believing, and winning breeds confidence, and right now we have a good bit of confidence."

RJ: You beat a good team in Eufaula last week that had to add to your confidence. You didn't allow them in the red zone one time.

TC: "Well, it did. We had gone to McAdory, which was No.2 in the state the first game, and to do what we did there in a close game and to come right back and that was kind of our theme."

"It's easy to go and upset one team, but then everything kind of falls into place and for them to come back and do it again the next week.

"You know it's not all bad sometimes being the hunter instead of always being the hunted. So we've kind of relished that role a little bit. It's been a long time since that's been the way it is and I'm just glad the kids, through a long season, finally had something positive to happen."

"So no matter what happens from here on out they are going to have some fond memories of these last two games."

RJ: You are going to face a Williamson team with some big playoff wins. They seem to have peaked at just the right time. What will you work on from last week's game to this week?

TC: "Well, Williamson brings a lot of different things to the table. I've said it before to the media and everyone else this week. I think their quarterback (Brandon Smith) means more to them than any other quarterback in Mobile and Baldwin County. He's just that great of a player. He can run the ball, and he can throw the ball. They spread you out."

"So now you get these match ups out in space, one-on-one athletes. We're going to have to use our technique and the things that we've learned to try and slow it down a little bit to give us a chance."

"But playing the people we've played with a lot of speed all year so that can only help us. We've got to be good tacklers this week."

RJ: Your schedule for Thursday and Friday?

TC: "We'll practice at 11 this morning (Wednesday) till about 12:30, and then I'll give them a long time off this afternoon and tomorrow for Thanksgiving. We'll come back tomorrow afternoon at 3:05.

RJ: It's nice, although you aren't the home team, you aren't very far from home.

TC: "Well, that's one good thing."

RJ: Will you expect a lot of fans Friday for this game?

TC: "Oh yeah, being right here in Mobile and our people are excited. There will be a lot of people there at Ladd Stadium Friday night."

"It's always good to be playing at Thanksgiving and to practice on Thanksgiving Day and to be thankful for all the things you have and to still be able to be playing football is unbelievable."

"These guys have accomplished a lot already. Just to get to the final eight is quite an accomplishment when you are the smallest team in 5A."

"Last year we were a final four team, and this year a final eight team so they have showed they know how to compete. I'm sure we will do the same (compete) this week."

RJ: The AHSAA realignment came out this week, and UMS-Wright has been moved back to 4A. What are your thoughts?

TC: "I think that's where we belong. We were the smallest 5A this year. We have about 290 kids in the top three grades. That's where we need to be playing. It gives our kids a chance to compete with people that have the same size as we do."

UMS-Wright quarterback William Harvey completed 12-of-19 passes for 96 yards. The defense shut out Eufaula and allowed only 157 yards, but defended their end of the field mightily.

Williamson has talented Brandon Smith at quarterback and Ellis McGaskin at running back. They also shut out their last opponent, Valley. source for Alabama high school football.

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