FNL: 'Canes swamp Gators

IRVINGTON , Ala. – From all over South Alabama they came to see a future Crimson Tide player perform, but it took a former Tide star's game plan to slow him down and claim the first victory for a new administration.


Hundreds of crimson-clad fans showed up at Friday's Escambia County (Fla.) at Alma Bryant game for a peek at Alabama commitment Trent Richardson, a star running back for the visiting Gators. But the defense of Hurricane's coordinator Kevin Jackson – a former star safety at Alabama – was the difference in holding Richardson to 88 yards on 17 carries in a 27-14 upset win for the home team.

There was no 419 or 407-yard performance on the night in a stadium located near the docks of Alabama's shrimping industry.

"We played eight in the box a lot. Everybody ran to the ball, like I told them to all week," Jackson said. "(Richardson) puts on his pants one leg at a time. He impressed me because he's got vision. He runs through the hole, and when he breaks it, nobody can stop him."

"We played man-to-man. We were going to let the wide receivers and the quarterback beat us." They didn't.

"I've got to give kudos to Kevin Jackson. We did every thing we could to keep him from running over us," said Bryant coach Ronnie Cottrell, himself a former Alabama and Florida State assistant. "We kept (Richardson) on the sidelines a good bit."

Edgerrin James, Fred Taylor-type guy. Lordy mercy, he can play. That kid can go the distance. Alabama's obviously got a great player (committed)."

"We didn't deserve to win, and of course we didn't win," said Gators' coach Jimmy Nichols, who guided the program back in the 80s when one Emmitt Smith ran rampant.

"We didn't play very well. We had no intensity at all. What can I say. They played better than we did, and they won."

"We stopped Trent. Our guys just didn't block anybody. They were making all these excuses: ‘Why this. Why that.' (Alma Bryant) didn't do anything we hadn't worked on."

Nichols said he pulled Richardson with seven minutes left and the game out of hand at 27-7, to avoid the possibility of injury.

Said Richardson, who added a late 12-yard kickoff return to finish with 100 all-purpose yards: "They were stacking the box, but we should have just played better as a team. The offensive line was arguing all night. They kept our offense off the field."

After an off-week, the Gators will face district rival Niceville. Practices aren't likely to be fun between now and then.

"I think they'll be ready when I get through with them," Nichols said.

"This is a big win for us. It's our first win of the season," Cottrell added.

His team is now 1-4 in Cottrell's first year at the helm. Escambia County fell to 3-2.

To the categories:

SUPER SENIORS:
Bryant fullback Jessie Goodwin (5-9, 230) is a fireplug who is very hard to tackle, and the Gators found that out all night. Goodwin broke too many tackles to count en route to 91 yards on 18 carries. He picked up a fumble by fellow senior Limebric Windham and ran it 47 yards to the three late in the first half before scoring the second of two touchdowns.

Goodwin is the best fullback to come through Bryant since ex-Auburn star Brandon Johnson in the late 90s. He is hearing from several 1AA and Division Two programs.

Windham (6-2, 218) had few mistakes besides the fumble and showed to be a good receiver out of the backfield, as well. Marshall is among several schools interested in his commitment, a list that includes the new South Alabama program headed by coach Joey Jones.

On the Escambia side, quarterback Anthony Porterfield made a handful of nice throws, but overall was not able to loosen up the Canes' defense enough to provide lanes for Richardson.

JUNIORS TO WATCH:
Here is where the discussion gets interesting for the Gators. Especially impressive was wide receiver >, who looks like a D-1 prospect to the naked eye. The same can be said for a pair of Richardson's key blockers, fullback James McKee and lineman Zachery Thames. Both may have had off nights, but the previous games where Richardson eclipsed the 400-yard mark speak not only of him, but his blockers as well.

Gator defensive backs Jonivian Grimsley and Anthony Abrams may also bear watching.

For Bryant, the junior class is thin, but keep an eye on 6-2, 220-pound defensive end George Wilkinson, one of many who made Richardson's life miserable Friday night. Kudos are also due to quarterback Rick LaForce, who ran the offense impeccably.

SUPER SOPHS:
Bryant's future is bright due to its 10th-graders, and Cottrell knows it. He looks forward to the next two-and-a-half years coaching wide receiver Steven Boler (5-11, 170), linebacker Josh Flowers, and twins Dustin and Justin McGallagher.

Dustin (6-4, 220) is a defensive end/tight end, while Justin (6-2, 270) is an offensive lineman who may grow taller. The twins are nephews of Brandon Johnson.

NEXT:
After an off week for this one particular writer, Friday Night Lights returns to action when Pickens County star receiver Mardecas Hood and his teammates head to Tuscaloosa to square off against junior wide receiver prospect Brandon Gottfried and the ACA Patriots.

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