Bobcats and Rams renew rivalry on Friday

Published 11:17 pm Wednesday, September 10, 2008

If a 2-1 start and win over archrival Francis Marion is not enough incentive for Bobcat football players on Friday, coach Jammie Abraham has raised the bar.

“The boys know that if we start the year off 2-1, I’m getting a Mohawk,” Abraham said.

A win would mark the Bobcats’ best start in decades, and give credence to the school’s ongoing effort to remove its “basketball school” perception. It would also give the Bobcats their third win against the Rams in the last four years.

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Francis Marion coach Javaris Jackson will try to make sure his team prevents such a claim en route to its first win of the season. The Rams fell to 0-2 with a 49-0 loss at Reeltown last week.

“We have to eliminate turnovers and penalties,” Jackson said. “Eliminate those two, and we can come away with the victory.”

The 25-year-old first-year head coach is also disappointed with the lack of intensity Ram fans are showing toward the rivalry.

“We don’t have the enthusiasm and drive we had in the past,” he said. “This school has lost pride in the game.”

Abraham’s team experienced a different kind of pressure prior to its 55-14 loss to St. Jude last week. The contest saw the Bobcats give up four blocked punts — all of which turned into points for St. Jude. The loss came one week after the Bobcats opened their season with a win for the first time in several years.

“It was the first time that we really had the entire community behind us,” Abraham said. “I think a lot of the guys cracked last week.”

For the first time in the rivalry’s history, both teams are in the same region. The winner will be one win closer to playoff contention.

The Perry County Bowl kicks off at 7 p.m. on Friday at Rams Stadium in Marion.

Dallas County (0-2) vs. Greensboro (2-0)

Dallas County remains in search of its elusive first win.

It won’t come easy this Friday as the Hornets travel to undefeated Greensboro on Friday.

The Raiders went 0-10 last season, but have begun 2008 with wins over Pickens County and Livingston.

“This is a very big game for us,” coach John Higgins said. “We need to go in expecting to win, and hopefully we’ll come away with a win.”

The Hornets fell to Bibb County 34-12 last week. Higgins attributed the loss to a lack of consistency throughout the game.

“We played well, but we stopped ourselves with dropped passes and penalties,” said Higgins. “We’re not a good enough team yet to overcome those mistakes and win.”

The return of quarterback Drew Blackmon may give the Hornets a little more offensive ammunition. Blackmon — who missed the second half of last season due to injury — went down in the Hornets’ opener against West Blocton with a head contusion. He was held out of action for nearly 10 days, but has been cleared to play again.

“Drew is back practicing with us,” said Higgins. “How much he plays will be determined by how much of the new stuff he picks up.”

The Hornets and Raiders kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday at Robert Lucky Stadium in Greensboro.

Morgan (1-1) vs. Marengo Academy (1-2)

No. 7 Morgan got its good juju back in a 41-7 win over Kingwood last week.

The Senators’ struggle to get on track continues at Marengo Academy on Friday.

“Playing at Marengo’s always tough,” Morgan coach Robert Gartman said. “If we play as well as we’re capable of playing, we’ve got a good chance.”

Marengo has advanced to the AISA playoffs the last two years, but has gotten off to a sluggish 1-2 start this season.

The Longhorns will likely rely on a grab bag of surprises on offense. In their three games, they have used at least four different offensive formations — Pro I, split backs, wing-T and double wing.

The Longhorns switched to the double wing in their 21-12 win over Macon-East last week.

The Senators and Longhorns kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday at Linden Field in Linden.

Keith High (2-0) vs. Goshen (0-2)

At 2-0, Keith is off to its best start since the Bears last made the playoffs in 1997.

They outscored Central-Hayneville and Highland Home by a combined 68-7, but may face a tougher challenge against Goshen on Friday.

“They’ll be coming in here expecting to beat us,” coach Harry Crum said. “They’re a traditional football power. But we’re not just a basketball school anymore.”

Don’t let the Eagles’ 0-2 record fool you. They lost both games by the same score — 28-26 — to Abbeville and Zion Chapel.

A win would propel the Bears to 3-0 and their best start in decades.

“(A win) would be monumental. It would put us in a place we haven’t been before,” Crum said. “A win over Goshen would put us in position for a playoff spot.”

The Bears and Raiders kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday at J.V. Caldwell Stadium in Orrville.

Maplesville (1-0) vs. John Essex (0-2)

After a week off, No. 8 Maplesville returns to action against the John Essex Hornets.

For most coaches, a week off is seen as an opportunity to rest and recuperate from the grueling day-to-day football operations. But Maplesville coach Brent Hubbert doesn’t view the break from that same perspective.

“I don’t know if it’s a benefit. It’s like playing the first game all over,” Hubbert said. “With such a young team, we wanted to get in a groove.”

The Hornets may be the perfect opponents to ease back onto the playing field against. In their losses to A.L. Johnson and Holy Spirit, they were shut out by a combined score of 85-0.

But that does not mean that Hubbert won’t make sure his team is prepared.

“We’re such a young team that everyone we play is a test,” he said. “(John Essex) is very athletic and fast. They are all over the place on defense.”

The Bears and Raiders kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday at Sunshine Field in Sunshine.

Wilcox Academy (1-2) vs. Clarke Prep (0-2)

After a disappointing home loss to Meadowview last week, Wilcox returns to the road to take on a struggling Clarke Prep team on Friday.

The Gators’ winless record is surprising as they have been an annual fixture in the AISA playoffs since winning back-to-back AISA Class AA state titles in 2004 and 2005.

Their performances have been even more surprising. They fell to Monroe 41-0 last week.

If the Wildcats are to remain alive in the playoff hunt, Friday’s division game is a must-win for them.

The Wildcats and Gators kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday at Grove Hill.

Southside (0-2) vs. Holt (0-2)

To say Southside and Holt have each gotten off to an ideal start would be inaccurate. Both are in search of their first wins of the season.

Holt enters the game fresh off a 49-21 loss to Calera. The Panthers fell to Jemison 54-20.

The Ironmen have not experienced a winning season since 1998. The Panthers have been on a downward slope since a 6-5 finish in 2005.

When Friday’s game concludes, one of the two teams will have a win, and a legitimate shot at salvaging the season. The other will face a season spiraling out of control.

The Panthers and Ironmen kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday at Woody Clements Field in Holt.

Lowndes Academy (2-1) vs. Shelby Academy (2-0)

The Rebels must shake last week’s painful 28-13 loss to Edgewood when they travel to Shelby Academy on Friday.

The loss was the Rebels’ first of the season and knocked them behind the 8-ball in the AISA Class AA Region 2 race. They’ll have to bounce back quickly against another region foe in Shelby.

This is the Raiders’ first year in Class AA, and they are two years removed from a Class A state title. They are locked in a three-way tie for first place with Edgewood and Springwood. A loss would put the Rebels two games behind Shelby.

The Rebels and Raiders kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday at James Acre Stadium in Montevallo.