Falcons try to outrun the Tigers

November 10, 2006 Central Tuscaloosa (7-3) faced Thomasville (9-1) in a first round 4A playoff game. Thomasville was easily the favorite, but the Falcons served notice with a 33-32 overtime loss that Coach Melvin Pete had not only turned around a 1-9 program, but left the impression this team would make some noise.

Thomasville further flattered them by making it to the final game and missing a state championship by one point to Guntersville 28-27.

Coach Pete's 2007 squad ran the table with a 15-0 championship season. No team seriously challenged the Falcons during the regular season, but it was once again, Thomasville, who would push them. The Tigers were 11-2, and this was a state championship semi-final game. The deficit was the same, but the decision was reversed providing Central Tuscaloosa with the one point victory, 28-27.

The 2008 season has ushered in a return to 5A competition, a classification the Falcons belonged in 2004-2005 with a 2-18 record. This is a different team and a different era.

The Falcons are the second-ranked team and riding a 20-game win streak. They caused a little concern last week when they struggled for three quarters before turning it on in the fourth. They put away McAdory 18-10 with a defensive stand inside their own 10-yard line late in the game.

They face 11th-ranked Fairfield Friday night who has a five game string of victories of their own after suffering an opening weekend loss to 6A Jess Lanier.

We talked with Falcons' Coach Melvin Pete this week about his team, his program and this week's game.

Rebecca Johnston: You had a bit of a slow start last week against McAdory.

Coach Melvin Pete: Yes we did. Goodness, I've never seen us play so sloppy. We fumbled the ball four times in the red zone.

RJ: How have they bounced back in practice this week?

CMP: A little bit better. I think our guys have started realizing we need to start putting these things together.

RJ: Corey Waldon intercepted a fourth-down pass in the end zone late in the fourth quarter to preserve the victory. Talk about his contribution to this team.

CMP: He is a leader for us. He is just a playmaker. We try to get him the ball a lot of different ways. We kind of got spoiled last year with our experienced quarterback. This year we are struggling with our young quarterback who is a sophomore. He (Broderick Hall) has actually been showing some signs that he is growing up. Things are getting a little bit better. He is learning the offense, and he is learning everything that we need to do. He is getting better.

RJ: Has your success with the move to 5A surprised you?

CMP: We won't ever say that we are not really surprised, because we respect everyone. We try to prepare. I don't care if it's a 1A school or a 6A school. We are still going to try to do some things that we think we can take advantage against whatever team we play. Hopefully it will be our night. A lot of times lately, it's been our night.

RJ: You had some big leads last year with limited plays from your starters and seniors. Has that been a great help this year?

CMP: Tremendous help. They put us in leads. A lot of coaches said you didn't really run the score up on us, we just didn't stop you. It also gave us a lot of opportunities to play some young kids and play some different positions. We have an experienced offensive line now, and that is what is kind of carrying us right now.

RJ: You've often said you are not trying to build just one season, you are trying to build a program. Are you there yet?

CMP: No, we are not out of the woods yet. I won't say that. I don't think that will come into affect until next year. We have to improve ourselves because we will play a whole lot of new players next year, first-time starters.

CMP: This year we've got some more guys with playing experience, but we have a very large senior class this year. They were playing on special teams and doing other things for us last year. I think next year will be the year. If it takes off after next year, I think everyone needs to look out because we'll probably have this thing in the saddle for another 10 years.

RJ: You face Fairfield this week in an important region matchup. What will you have to do to win the game?

CMP: The thing about Fairfield is that they have a whole lot of speed. They can match everything we do. As a matter of fact, they might be a little bit bigger. We've just got to match their intensity because they have been scoring a whole lot of points lately. What we basically have to stop is a very good running game. If we can force them to pass, which they do have a favorite receiver, and try to stop him, we'll do well. A lot of times, what is taking place here is that we're able to take people away from what they do well.

No. 11 Fairfield 5-1 (5-0) vs. No. 2 Central Tuscaloosa 5-0 (3-0) (Region 5).

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