Vigor 10 straight

PRICHARD, Ala. – It was an interesting ploy, if that is indeed what it was, but it sure didn't work. With less than 10 minutes to go before kick-off at the annual Blount-Vigor rivalry game, the Blount Leopards of first-year coach Kelvin Sigler, had not arrived at historic Prichard City Stadium.

Blount officials had been on cell phones for over 30 minutes checking on the whereabouts of the bus, since the school is only about 10 minutes away. Each time they called, the response was, "We're at the exit," or "We're caught in traffic." It was quite puzzling, and nothing FNL had ever encountered.

Well, with about eight minutes to go on the pre-game clock, in stroll the Leopard team, whooping and hollering. A traffic problem, or a mind game? "It's all right. We're here," Sigler said, with an impish grin on his face.

Again, it didn't work, as unbeaten, third-ranked 5A Vigor scored on the first play from scrimmage on a 66-yard TD catch by a promising sophomore and later ground out a 95-yard, six minute drive to ice their 10th straight win over Blount.

All this game was missing on Halloween night was Tyler Perry in his "Madea" outfit, but Vigor and coach Kerry Stevenson certainly took Madea's well-known advice: "Go to the closet, reach in your bag of belts, and TEAR THAT (behind) UP."

That's what the Wolves did, 29-6, to finish with an undefeated regular season mark.

"I know one thing--they sure worked their tails off to get it," Stevenson said.

Vigor (10-0) will host Eufala to open the 5A playoffs. Blount dropped to 5-5, and will travel across town to visit McGill-Toolen to open 6A post-season play.

To the categories:

TOP PROSPECTS: Based on their bodies of work and skills displayed Friday, We'll call this one a tie between junior all-everything safety Jarrick Williams (6-2, 200) of Blount, and his teammate, senior linebacker Jonathan Evans, a 6-1, 215 linebacker committed to Auburn.

Evans made around a dozen tackles, and had a cameo appearance in the offensive backfield long enough to gain 19 yards on three carries. He'll be defense on the Plains, as is his older brother, Tigers linebacker Chris Evans.

Williams was the guy FNL was most curious to see, as he projects as one of the state's top players in the 2010 class. He only had a handful of tackles, but showed shutdown coverage skills when called on to man up on the opponent's top receiver.

Sigler, who played safety at Alabama in the 90s, knows about the position and knows Williams has what it takes to play at the SEC level.

"He's come out and had a great season for us. He plays DB, he punts, and he also kicks field goals. He's one of the biggest leaders on our defense. He also plays some offense, and I'm just happy to have him," Sigler said.

Williams played sparing at receiver, but his big play on offense came with the game on the line in last week's 21-20 comeback win over Williamson. Down 20-19, Sigler sent Williams in to take a shotgun snap, and the junior ran in the two-point conversion to cap the win.

Williams is a national recruit at safety. He's got size, speed, strength and skills. The only "S" he's missing is one on his chest, and it's possibly on the t-shirt under his pads. He's good.

"He's a tall, athletic kid who packs a big punch when he comes down to hit you," said Stevenson.

SOLID SENIORS: Kendall Houston has been touted since his sophomore season, and Vigor's 5-10, 205-pound running back did not disappoint. He ran for 100 yards on 22 carries, and got the bulk of it on the afore-mentioned fourth quarter, 95-yard march that he capped with a plunge from the 1.

Wolfpack linebacker Ken Holifield spells his last name differently than ex-heavyweight champ Evander, but he sure does pack a similar wallop. Defensive end Keenan Coggins spent most of the night in the Blount backfield.

Blount guard Clint Marsh (6-3, 360) and LB/RB Enrique Williams (6-1, 215) showed they'll play somewhere next year.

JUNIORS TO WATCH: Blount quarterback Calvin Davidson is generously listed at 5-10, 160. He's quick and speedy, but was victimized Stephen Garcia-style by an official who got in the way when he tried to run in a two-point conversion late in the third quarter. Oh well, the ref is part of the field, I guess.

Vigor features big offensive tackle Quinterrious Eatmon, who is listed at 6-5, 305. He's possibly bigger now.

"He's growing every week," said Stevenson. "Eatmon's having a heck of a season. He's taking on a leadership role, and taking charge in the locker room. On his blocking, starting out the season, he was grading like 68-per cent first game. Last couple of games, he's been in the upper 80s and low 90s. He's coming big." In several ways.

"He's a big kid with a big body. If you stand in his way, he'll drive you back," said Sigler. "If you get movement, I'm not sure how good he is as far as his pass-blocking."

Stevenson also knows he can count on 6-3, 240-pound defensive end Josh Lawson to heat up the QB. Lawson got to Davidson twice, sacking him both times and causing a fumble on one of those.

SUPER SOPHS: It's unfair to call any kid "the next Julio." That was tried by some analysts on Gadsden's Kendall Kelly, who has not had the best of a senior year (due to injury). Nevertheless, let me at least be the first to tell you to keep your eyes on young Vigor receiver Marvin Shinn.

This 6-2.5 , 185-pound 10th-grader caught four passes on the night. Three were for touchdowns. He beat the Leopards deep on the first play of the game for a 66-yard catch-and-run from Keith Ray. Ray later found Shinn for scores of 14 and 12 yards. For the night, he caught four balls for 100 yards.

Yes, he came up a bit lame and had to play through it, and yes, when the put Williams on him mano-a-mano, he had trouble breaking press coverage at the line, but… watch him.

This kid is going to be special. Maybe not Julio-special (few are), but at least as good as a guy he facially and physically resembles, Julio's running mate, Mike McCoy.

Stevenson said Shinn now has 15 TDs in 10 games. That's big-time.

"He just needs to get stronger, and he can do it," Stevenson said. "He's only going to get better. The only reason he doesn't' have more than 15 (scores) is we don't have enough sense to throw the ball to him more."

Keep in mind, Stevenson coached B.J. Scott, and knows talent. He knows strategy, too. Shinn's TDs forced Sigler to put Williams on him wide, taking Williams out of the "box." This allowed Houston and the running game to open up the proverbial can.

Blount defensive end Antonio Marsh (6-3, 220) is also one to watch.

HOW BOUT THEM BURGERS: And them dogs. Prichard City Stadium featured not only decent burgers, but also a rare treat these days: chilidogs, and they were tasty, despite the 20-plus minute wait in line.

IT MIGHT BE HALLOWEEN WHEN: You ride through downtown Eutaw, Ala. at 1A.M. and see a bunch of flashing lights. Fearing an accident, you slow down, pull up to waiting officer, and find out it's an early morning license/insurance checkpoint. Fortunately, like a good neighbor, insurance card was there, in the console. Sheesh.

NEXT: Some are calling it the best team in Tuscaloosa County Wildcat football history, and FNL will find out when safety Alvin Hines and the Pelham Panthers visit Northport and quarterback Brett Booth for a first round 6A playoff game next week. Coach Hig will likely have his No. 2 Cats ready, and FNL will bring you all the action.

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