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Rebels prep for title shot

Some around the state may still be in shock that Lowndes Academy knocked off Monroe in a 27-21 overtime thriller last week to advance to the AISA Class AA state title on Friday.

However, the Rebels believe they have rightfully earned their shot to play for the title and relish the underdog role.

“They’ve been underdogs all year,” said Lowndes coach Art Sullivan. “These boys — it’s been about them. They’ve worked hard and overcome the odds.”

Now, the Rebels only have to beat one more undefeated opponent, Edgewood, to earn their first state title since 1997.

The good news is that Edgewood is a team Lowndes is familiar with, having played the Wildcats on Sept. 5. The bad news is, the Wildcats won 28-13.

But Edgewood coach Bobby Carr sees a different Lowndes team on film than the one Edgewood knocked off almost three months ago.

“I knew going in (to the Monroe game) Lowndes had a great chance to beat them because they are a physical team,” said Carr. “Lowndes has a got a lot of tradition down there. They’ve greatly improved since we played them week two.”

As they did against Monroe, the Rebels will rely on the power rushing of Tyler Bozeman and Brandon Pate.

The Wildcats counter with a balanced attack that uses the run to set up the pass. Tailback Cody Lee is the second 1,000-yard tailback in Carr’s 13-year coaching career. Senior quarterback Chris Tice — who began his high school football career this season —has also been a pleasant surprise with 2,000 passing yards and another 300 rushing yards.

“They’re quicker than we are,” said Sullivan. “Edgewood is more of a physical team than we are. They can play the old hard-nosed smash-mouth football.”

Odds have it that Lowndes will enter the championship game as an underdog again. But the Rebels seem to be peaking at just the right time.

“They’ve been on such a high level the last two weeks,” said Sullivan.

The Rebels and Wildcats kick off at 1 p.m. on Friday in Troy.