Statement game

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

Rest assured the Meadowview football team has no qualms about playing Southern Academy in the state championship game Friday.

The Trojans made the walk from their field house to their stadium – on a driveway painted with the numbers of the players – like it was any other day at practice.

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Cracking jokes and throwing footballs at each others’ heads, to a man they insist this is no time to be uptight.

There’s not really a reason to be.

“They’re coached really well, we can tell that, and they execute pretty good,” lineman Ross Johnson said. “We’re not intimidated or nervous. I’d say we’re going to be anxious more than anything else.”

Meadowview (9-3) has its second shot at Southern Academy, which beat the Trojans 44-12 in the regular season.

The Cougars (11-0) are making their fourth consecutive trip the state title game. The Trojans last won a ring in 1987 while they were still in 3A.

Meadowview was the only 2A opponent Southern didn’t shut out during the regular season, so this team knows the giant has its weaknesses.

“We hadn’t been here in a long time,” running back Brett Collins said. “Me and (fullback) Davis Jones have been out here since May. I can tell you one thing – it’s going to be a close game up in Troy.”

Quiet storm

It’s easy to be fooled by Randal Hamilton.

His sentences are a lesson in efficiency, and he’s barely audible even when speaking one-on-one. He walks deliberately, sometimes with his head down, like he’s contemplating something only he can understand.

But those traits betray leadership ability that is fiery when necessary and an urgency that shows when a game is on the line.

“It works out pretty well,” coach Rick Jackson said of his soft-spoken quarterback. “He’s not a loud guy, but he speaks when he has to. Because of his ability, he has that respect from his teammates and they respond to him.”

Hamilton is a 1,000-yard passer and 500-yard rusher for a team that has exceeded even some of its own expectations.

He was handed the keys to a new offense this summer, and all he’s done is driven the Trojans to the state championship game.

“There’s been a lot of improvement from last year,” Hamilton said. “The team’s stepped up a lot. We knew we could get here, it was just going to take a lot of time.”

It apparently didn’t take as much time as expected. The Trojans bonded quickly and started the season 5-0.

Now they face a daunting task against a Southern team that is a heavy favorite to repeat.

“We’re thinking about it as another game,” Hamilton said. “We’ve got to play hard and try not to think of it as a state (title) game, but as just another game and do the best we can do.”

Never say never

Joshua “Butter” Barlow credits Meadowview’s semifinal win over Marengo Academy to tenacity.

He should know. He had 11 solo tackles, including the one that kept the Longhorns from crossing the goal line with a minute left in the game.

“After four years of playing football, I just put it all together and played well,” Barlow said.

Meadowview is nowhere close to conceding defeat to Southern, saying playing the team once before will help them out this time around.

There might even be a home-field advantage for the Trojans, who are playing in Troy University’s stadium.

“We actually haven’t talked about that at all,” Jackson said. “But they absolutely can be beaten.”