Ben Neill is known for his can-do attitude. One of those players who just gets better when you tell him what he cannot do. He is famously known for telling a reporter after being snubbed in the rankings last year, "Don't rank us. We like that".
Coach Jere Adcock says he knew what he was getting when he saw him as a seventh grader, "He would look at you and burn a hole though you. He's just intense."
The FCA president has the goods to back up the look. He is 18-4 as a starter. He has thrown for over 3,000 yards while completing 60-percent of his passes. He has thrown only 12 interceptions in those two years, and two of those were Hail Mary passes picked in a jump-off.
Gadsden City is on deck for Decatur tonight and Coach Adcock knows what that means.
"It's going to be a real challenge," he said. "The level of player they've got is very impressive, offensively and defensively. I'm looking at situations where we can stop some of them."
"We've got to jump on them. We can't behind from 14 points."
Consistency is the key.
Decatur's consistency left them for a couple of games earlier this year when they dropped two of three early in the season. The Red Raiders then rattled off six in a row, finally falling to a defensive powerhouse and one of the top teams the state, undefeated 5A Hartselle 19-16 last week.
Decatur had a 14-0 halftime lead and let the win slip away in the second half. Coach Adcock talks about preventing that kind of letdown.
"That starts in practice," he said. "You have to do everything to get their attention even if that's standing on your head. They have to be willing to listen and accept what you are telling them."
"Once they are switched on they have to stay on."
Coach Adcock reached a milestone this year in his 13th at Decatur High School winning his 100th game as a Red Raider.
"It was a very humbling moment," Adcock said. "When you are coaching you look at landmarks, and you just want to get it done and get past it."
"We have had two (assistant) coaches here the entire 13 years, and two more that have been here for 12."
Decatur has bounced around in the 5A-6A classification, landing in 6A this year, but they always find a way to win, no matter the level.
Players to watch: Ben Neill, look for the top-ranked cornerback in the state, Gadsden City's Dre Kirkpatrick (6-2, 180), to shadow top senior receiver, Cory Dodson (5-10, 150).
Look for Red Raider senior Dewan Troupe (6-0, 240) and his defensive line to put a ton of pressure on Gadsden City's quarterback, an area that has been problematic this year for the Titans.
The visitors will try to get their other Scout.com five-star prospect, Kendall Kelly (6-3, 220), involved in the game from his receiver position and on special teams.
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