Fairfield Roars into Week Six

The 2008 Tigers of Fairfield have some similarities to the 2005 region champion team that went into the playoffs with a 7-0 region record. Both teams lost their first game to a 6A team. The first to Oak Mountain by 11 and to Jess Lanier by 14 in 2008.

The Tigers are 4-0 in region play and 4-1 overall. Matching that perfect region record of three years ago will require a run through Woodlawn 2-3 (2-3), Central Tuscaloosa 4-0 (3-0) and McAdory 3-1 (3-0).

Coach Jim Vakakes, in his eighth year at Fairfield, refuses to look past his opponent this week.

"Woodlawn has (running back) Chris Davis and tailback (Adarius) Bloxom, good God they can run," Coach Vakakes said worriedly. "Chris Davis played at Hayes last year, and when they closed Hayes he moved to Woodlawn."

Vakakes exercised the kind of patience he is tying to teach his team, "We're going one week at a time. I worked a couple of camps at Auburn this summer and talked to Coach (Tommy) Tuberville.

"The biggest thing about Auburn, and I'm sure Alabama too, they just take it a week at a time. They try not to look ahead. It's hard for our kids not to look ahead to this one or that one. I tell the guys it doesn't matter if we don't take care of this one next week it is not going to matter."

"Woodlawn is much improved over last year. (Ryan) Poe and his staff have done an outstanding job. Coach Jim Currier is on the staff, and he used to be head coach at Pinson Valley back in the late 70s early 80s. They've got some good coaches on that staff, and they've got them organized."

If you know Jim Vakakes you know he's a worrier. He doesn't get much sleep during a football season and has been known to obsessively mow the grass.

It was no surprise the easily likeable and sometimes anxiety-ridden head coach recounted these events from last week.

"It was 19-0 in the first quarter, and bam they scored, and it was 19-6," Vakakes said. "I'm thinking we can't blow this."

"We settled down and scored again, and that was it. You worry about stuff like that. I do, because I'm a worry wart. I'm awful. Tim says ‘Pop relax' and I said ‘well I can't."

Fairfield played a Thursday night game last week which allowed the father and son coaching team of Jim and Tim to scout Woodlawn.

"We went to the game, and we were thoroughly impressed with them. They were organized, and they look like they have a plan. Coach Poe and his staff have seriously done a tremendous job."

"Birmingham city schools are a tough place to coach. They gave McAdory all they wanted. It was 20-12 in the fourth quarter."

Coach Vakakes is certainly a proud father to his offensive coordinator, but he pulls no punches in telling you who the offensive success belongs to, and that's Coach Tim.

"The rest of our coaches have done a tremendous job, but Tim (Vakakes) has done an absolutely magnificent job with the offense I can't say enough about him," he said.

With Fairfield producing 181 points this season you have to agree with him. That is a lot of points for the elder Vakakes' teams.

The team and coaches are always known to poke a little fun between the two, and last Thursday was no exception. Senior quarterback Antonio Hagler (5-11, 190 pounds) showed Vakakes some speed, and the coach recounted the exchange on the sideline afterwards.

"He found a jet stream the other night from about 20 yards out and scored," Vakakes said. "I said ‘who was that?' and he said, "that's me coach." I said ‘well, that didn't look like you," and everybody laughed.

Hagler is not known for his speed as he is a catcher for the Tigers' baseball team. He replaced last year's Jarius McFarland who signed with Jacksonville State last spring.

"Calling a game is nothing new for him. He's got a good arm too," Vakakes said.

"He was the backup last year. He played sparingly, but Coach Tim tutored him. He's done a great job with him, and Antonio has taken on a leadership role."

"We only have 11 seniors on the team. Four of them have never played much. Next year, with the experience factor, we ought to be OK."

Frank Rivers (6-2 170 pounds) is the backup quarterback and a junior this season.

The offensive line consists of Jared Giles at center, the guards are Willie Hughes, and Lloyd Smith. The two tackles are Jordan Kidd a freshman at 6-5 310 and Terence Swift a junior at 6-5 315.

"They have really really come on," Vakakes said. "I'm most proud of them because aside from Giles, who is the only senior, the rest of them have played (sparingly) and the freshman has never played on the varsity level. That to me is the most gratifying part of the offense."

Their starting tailback is senior Qualin Young (5-10 170 pounds).

"He has been a pleasant surprise at tailback," Vakakes said. "He didn't play until this year. He's been out for three years, and he's been begging to come back. He got his grades up, and he just grew up and matured."

"Our other back is sophomore Theo Edmonds and Larrius Houston who also plays strong safety for us. When he starts on defense we try to limit his offensive plays because we need him on defense."

Fairfield has Mike Robinson (6-1 180 pounds), Anthony Stevenson and Miguel Jackson at wide receiver and Ladarius "Firecracker" Thompson (5-7 155 pounds) and Brian Hudson as slot receivers.

The defense is made up of Isaiah Whitaker, Josh Gentry, Bradley Harper and LaQuan Mitchell, Sam Pugh, Tim Brown, Larius Houston, Donzell Little, Roderious Massey, Tervez Posey, and the freshman linebacker Bryant Snead.

By the numbers:
Antonio Hagler had 15 carries last week against Wenonah for 100 yards and three touchdowns. He completed seven of 16 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown. Hagler's total passing yardage is 465 for the year.

Qualin Young led the Tigers last week with 13 carries for 123 yards while Mike Robinson is the leading receiver on the year with 14 catches for 183 yards.

8/29 6A Jess Lanier L 28-14
9/5 Parker (region) W 27-20
9/12 Carver Birmingham (region) W 55-19
9/19 Brookwood (region) W 54-12
9/25 Wenonah (region) W 31-6
10/3 Woodlawn (region)
10/10 Central Tuscaloosa (region)
10/17 McAdory (region)
10/24 Dora
10/31 Midfield

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