Prospects hit the field at McAdory
Coach Jim Vakakes, with his gravely voice, his preference to play conservatively and win with defense all herald back to a time before spread offenses. All that can be at odds with the offensive coordinator better known as his son, Coach Tim Vakakes.
"We've done some good things this year," the elder Vakakes said. "Vestavia beat us at our jamboree. They are always tough, and one of the better coached teams around with Coach Buddy Anderson and his staff. We knew it would be tough, but we knew it was going to help prepare us for the season ahead. That's why we do that stuff, spring games and fall jamborees."
Next up for Fairfield was Jess Lanier who, lost their first game to Minor on Thursday night to take their record to 7-1 in 6A.
"Jess Lanier is a team that is loaded with talent," Vakakes says. "Probably the most talent I have seen in Bessemer in a long, long time. They should go deep into the play-offs.
"They beat us 33-27. They got on us pretty good. We fought back and cut it to six and tried the onside kick, and they got it."
This might tell us just how good this 5A Fairfield squad is. They peeled off six straight wins outscoring opponents 211-31 with two shut-outs.
"We're going in to McAdory Friday night," Vakakes reminds. "They lost to Walker, so they are 6-0 in the region. It's going to be a battle. We beat them last year, so I know they are going to be foaming at the mouth to get us over there.
"We are going to do all we can and try to play well. We've got a good plan on both sides of the ball, and I think we are going to give a good account of ourselves. If not we'll deal with that."
No more rain on Friday says weather man Vakakes, "Pretty and cool."
Vakakes is not happy about going on the road the next three weeks, but he sure is glad to give his soggy field a rest until the play-offs begin.
"McAdory's field is in real good shape. It is just real mushy," Vakakes said. "They haven't played on it much in the rain, so it should be in good shape. It will be a slow track. That will hurt them just like it will hurt us. We're both playing on the same field."
"We have been in the gym again this week practicing."
Coach Vakakes talked about the improved defense which allows just over five points a game in region contests.
"We hired a defensive coordinator this year, Jason Bates, and we've gone to a 4-3 defense," he explains. "Coach Bates has done a real good job with it. It has taken the kids a while to get it. I think it's the first time we have had enough linebackers.
"We ran a 5-2, and we barely had two linebackers, but we've got 3,4,5 linebackers this year, so he's done a good job with it. He shows me the game plan on Monday, and I look at it. What I don't like I tell him. He adjusts. That's just like I do with Tim on the offensive stuff.
"I'm blessed to have two coordinators and staff members that work well. It's been a blessing this year it really has been."
Vakakes talked about his players as well.
"Frank Rivers (Sr. 6-4, 195) is our quarterback. He has done a tremendous job, not just playing, and leadership skills. Just the type person he is. He is one of the classiest kids I've been around in 38 years. He's got his grades, and I look for him to sign somewhere. If you call practice at 2:00 he's there at a quarter till 2."
"He's a senior and followed Antonio Hagler that went to Miles. He knew his time was coming, and it's here. I think right now in stats he's right behind the Hoover kid (Ryan Carter) as far as yardage.
"Our line has come on and done a pretty good job protecting Frank. We've got some seniors up there. Terrence Swift (Sr. 6-5, 305) at offense tackle. He's got offers from Louisville and Southern Miss. Our other tackle is Jordan Kidd (Soph. 6-4, 315), then there is C.J. Warren (Fresh. 6-1, 250).
"Our guards are Lloyd Smith (Sr. 5-8, 230) and Willie Hughes (Sr. 5-10, 230). Willie Young (Jr. 6-0, 210) is the tailback along with Jermaine Jordan (Sr. 5-11, 200).
"Our wideouts are A.J. Stevenson (Jr. 6-3, 180), Migail Jackson (Sr. 5-11, 175), Brian Hudson (Sr. 5-8, 165) and Theo Edmonds (Jr. 5-7, 160). Theo is a speedster, and he's kind of taken Firecracker's place from last year. He's very quick and cuts on a dime. He has been a pleasant surprise for us. I knew he had the talent.
"Defensively, up front Josh Gentry (Jr. 6-0, 300) transferred from Homewood last year. He's a tackle. Ryan Jordan is a sophomore. Our ends are Samuel Pugh (6-0, 205) and Terence Bradford (Sr. 6-2, 215) that just came out this year. You find these diamonds in the rough sometimes. He came out for his senior year. We've been trying to get him out, and he finally came out this year. He's done real well.
"Our linebackers are Bradley Harper (Sr. 6-2, 205), Justin Henderson (Fresh. 5-9, 180), Derrick Taylor (Soph 5-9, 175) and Marcus Saltmarch (Jr. 5-11, 190). He also punts and kicks for us and has done a good job for us.
"Secondary, Roderious Rodi Massey (Sr. 6-0, 170), Tervez Posey (Sr. 5-9, 175), Donzell Little (Sr. 6-2, 175) and Mantaz Owens (Soph. 5-9, 170). They have been starters for us for three years. They have been our strength this year.
"Sam Pugh, this is his fourth year. He has really come on, but he's an intelligent kid, quick off the ball. He loves to rush the passer. I told him back in the summer that he needed to get better against the run which he has."
Pugh looks to take a few steps back at the next level and play outside linebacker.
"We will lose 6-7 on offense and defense this year," Vakakes says thinking ahead. "I think we will be okay next year too."
What about McAdory?
"They run a very fast offense," he said. "Speed sweep, fullback trap, slot reverse. If you're not on top of your game or out of position they will run by you like you are standing still. We've got some speed at Fairfield, but McAdory spells fast with a capital F and S.
"They had to slow the film down it was blurring my vision. Coach David Powell, a good friend of mine. They do a great job and as testimony to that they have won five of the last six region championships. Last year we couldn't kick extra points. We lost to Central Tuscaloosa 20-19."
"These guys know what it means to be in the big dance. We haven't won our region since 2005.
"They'll be juiced for us. They are just laying in wait. It's going to be a challenge, but I like our chances unless we turn it over it will get ugly. It will be over in the first half."
Vakakes also talked about finishing on the road the last three games.
"Good for the field and good for my back," he answered.
Note: Coach Tim Vakakes tells us that Terrence Swift is close to committing, and also has interest from Arkansas State, Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Quarterback Rivers has interest from Murray State, Arkansas State and Samford. Also, Bradley Harper is hearing from Ivy League schools about his next career in football.
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