‘Let it all hang out’

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Lowndes meets favored Southern in title game

By George L. Jones

The Selma Times-Journal

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This is what Lowndes Academy wanted even before most people started thinking about the start of football season.

Their year comes down to a single game, and it’s the one game every other team in the state wishes it were playing.

When the Rebels (11-1) face Southern Academy in the AISA Class AA state championship Friday, a goal will be realized.

Well, part of a goal. They still have to win the game, and that’ll be the toughest order Lowndes will serve up this season.

“I can’t see any weaknesses,” Rebels coach Art Sullivan said when talking about Southern. “We may have a tad bit more speed team-wise, but they’re still big and they execute. We’ve just got to play hard and hope the ball bounces our way a little bit. They don’t do anything fancy.

“They just try to run over you.”

Sullivan sees both the offensive and defensive lines of Southern (11-1) as the keys to their success.

The size and activity of both units have allowed them to overpower opponents all year long.

There is some history behind this matchup. Southern, which has been the team to beat in AA the past three years, ousted Lowndes in the semifinals last season.

Just staying close would be an accomplishment for some teams. Southern allowed just three total points the first seven weeks of the regular season.

The biggest – and possibly only -advantage for Lowndes is the role of underdog.

Pretty much everyone outside Lowndesboro is saying this is Southern’s championship to lose.

Fortunately for the Rebels, that’s not their burden to carry.

“We talked about that this week,” Sullivan said. “We really don’t have any pressure on us. We’re going to go out and play hard and take some gambles and let it all hang out.

I think (our players) are ready. They think they can win. We’ve done all we can do to get ready.”

One of the most impressive things about Lowndes’ run to the championship is the team has done it without the leadership of Bradley Adams.

Adams suffered a season-ending knee injury in the sixth week, but the Rebels hardly missed a beat after that.

“When Brad got hurt, we probably lost our best football player,” Sullivan said. “He was a receiver, and he was the one we went to when we needed a first down or some crucial yardage. He was also a good outside linebacker.

“It might have brought us a little closer together. We had a couple of guys step up and take his place.”

The recent rash of bad weather has forced Lowndes to take practice inside. The Rebels had a walkthrough in their gym Wednesday. They will practice for about an hour in Troy University’s Memorial Stadium this afternoon.

“The weather probably hurt them, too. I don’t think it’ll be any factor,” Sullivan said.