Something old, something new in AISA playoffs

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 12, 2004

The AISA football playoffs begin tonight with a mixture of new teams, new coaches and veteran players and coaches who have been here before.

The new teams include Meadowview Christian School. The Trojans clinched their first playoff spot since 1996 and did so in their first season since coming down to Class 2A.

Meanwhile, first-year head coach Dayton Dawkins will lead his Central Christian Academy Warriors into the Class A postseason.

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The defending Class 3A champion Morgan Academy Senators, led by coach Robert Gartman, will be the lone area team hosting their first-round playoff game tonight

Below is a roundup of their games and what each coach expects tonight.

Meadowview Christian

The Trojans (5-5) will have their hands full when they take on top-seeded Clarke Prep (9-0).

MCS also could very well be without starting quarterback Chris Sewell, who is battling a case of food poisoning.

In fact, according to coach Rick Jackson, 18 of 24 players have missed at least one day of school and practice this week due to some sort of illness.

“We’re not able to go through our regular preparations and stay sharp,” Jackson said. “We’re getting two or three sick every day. I really don’t know how we’re going to do Friday night.”

Sewell attended practice both Wednesday and Thursday for about 30 minutes, Jackson said, but went home when he began to feel weak. Jackson said Sewell’s availability tonight would likely be a game-time decision.

Along with Sewell, center Ryan Stephens has suffered from bronchitis this week. Offensive tackle/linebacker Ryan Blackmon, backup center Ross Johnson, wide receiver/cornerback Park Chappelle, fullback/placekicker Tyler Wendell and tight end/linebacker Landon Mehan are all suffering from a stomach virus that has plagued the team this week.

With Sewell a question mark, Jackson said there would likely be a change to the team’s offensive play. Jackson said the ball would likely be directly snapped to running back Dustin Lee, the Trojans’ leading rusher this season.

Central Christian Academy

The Warriors (7-3) have counted on speedy running back Eric Curtis and fullback Simuel Walker to propel their offense this season. Such will be the case tonight when Central Christian travels to Autauga Academy (8-2).

“I would prefer speed over power in the playoffs,” Warriors’ first-year head coach Dayton Dawkins said. “Speed can’t be taught. That’s a God-given talent. With power, have to tell your players, ‘You get this one and you get this one.'”

A power team is what the Warriors will face in Autauga Academy, which features a smash-mouth style offense.

“They just line up, come right at you and hit you in the mouth,” Dawkins said. “Then they tell you, ‘We’ll be right back. Don’t go anywhere.'”

Dawkins said Autauga would likely operate its offense from a two-tight end or power-I formation – something the Warriors have seen little of this season.

“I hope we can get them with our quickness,” Dawkins said. “We need to out-quick them.

“It’ll be up to us if we win Friday night,” Dawkins added. “We need to stop them from running the football, period. If we let them get their big running backs started, it’ll be like a Volkswagen stopping a freight train.”

Morgan Academy

The Senators (8-2) begin a difficult road to defending their Class 3A state title tonight when they host Pike Academy (8-2).

Morgan Academy coach Robert Gartman said his team underwent a tougher than usual series of practices this week following their 15-0 loss to Faith Academy last Friday night.

“The kids learned this week that losing is not acceptable at Morgan Academy,” Gartman said. “We went back to practicing football this week. We went back to the basics of learning how to block and tackle.”

Both will be a must this week against Pike Academy. The visitors will run a spread offense featuring several different formations and wide-outs.

“They’re a lot like Edgewood Academy,” Gartman said. “They play extremely hard. They go all-out on every play.”

Gartman added that this would likely be a competitive game, nothing unusual to the AISA playoffs.

Despite his team being shut out last weekend, Gartman was confident that loss is behind the Senators.

“Kids have short memories,” he said. “On Friday night at 7:30, there won’t be a thought crossing their minds about last week.”