Football previews: Keith travels to No. 1 Maplesville

Published 12:10 pm Thursday, September 10, 2015

Keith looks to turn its winless season around by pulling off an upset that will have heads turning.  The Bears travel to Maplesville Friday to take on the defending state champions and No. 1 Class 1A team. — Blake Deshazo

Keith looks to turn its winless season around by pulling off an upset that will have heads turning. The Bears travel to Maplesville Friday to take on the defending state champions and No. 1 Class 1A team. — Blake Deshazo

By Justin Fedich | Selma Times Journal


A week after hosting the No. 3 team in the state of Alabama in Class 1A, the Keith Bears have a much more difficult task. On Friday, they travel to Maplesville to take on No. 1.

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Keith (0-2, 0-1) has lost two hard-fought contests to open the season and now must face the unanimous No. 1 Maplesville Red Devils (2-0, 0-0) on the road in a Class 1A, Region 4 matchup. Bears’ head coach Harry Crum is excited for the challenge.

“Just the moment itself, just to be in the limelight, just the opportunity to play against the No. 1 team in the state of Alabama, you just don’t get those opportunities very often,” Crum said.

Keith’s chances of pulling off the upset starts with running back Domonique Jones. The junior had 270 yards rushing and two touchdowns against No. 3 Linden last Friday and has rushed for 356 yards in just two games.

Crum said Jones, who is averaging over 26 carries a game, is one of the best running backs he’s ever coached because of his talent and his attitude towards football.

“He doesn’t mind if you’re running the sweep or you’re running the gut or you’re running the counter or you’re running off tackle, it doesn’t matter to him,” Crum said. “He just wants to run the football.”

Crum said getting off to a strong start against Maplesville is imperative, but finishing strong is something Keith has been so close to doing in its first two games of the season.

Against Southside in Keith’s season opener, the Bears overcame a late deficit to force overtime. Ultimately, Keith couldn’t stop the Panthers in overtime.

Against Linden, Keith came out of the second half locker room ready to erase a 36-12 deficit. The Bears fought back to narrow the lead to 36-24, coming within two scores of tying up the game against the No. 3 team in the state in Class 1A.

Ulimately, the Patriots ran away with the game in the fourth quarter.

While the Bears ran out of gas last week against Linden, the Red Devils are well rested coming off a bye week. Maplesville defeated Billingsley 41-27 the week prior and rolled by Ragland in Week 1 54-7.

The last time Maplesville lost a game was Dec. 5, 2013 in the state championship to Pickens County.

One of the biggest reasons Keith hasn’t won this season is turnovers. Crum knows that if Keith is going to make the game close, the Bears have to limit turnovers.

“We want to minimize that because teams like Maplesville, they’re going to capitalize on your mistakes and they’re going to try to do their best to magnify those mistakes,” Crum said.

Keith has failed to capitalize on its opportunities in its first two games. But if the Bears can pull off a win at Maplesville, it will more than make up for any of the missed opportunities in the past.

“We’re going to go up there and we’re going to play the best game that we know how,” Crum said. “We’re going to make a game of it.”


Selma (2-1, 0-1) vs. Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa (1-2, 0-0)

Selma travels to Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa in its second game of Class 6A, Region 4 play. The Saints lost a heartbreaker last week against Paul Bryant to fall to 0-1 in the region.

The Patriots are the only team in the region who have not yet played a region game, but just three games into the season, Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa has already been tested.

Like Selma, Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa is coming off a close loss against an undefeated team. The Patriots fell 41-40 to No. 1 Clay-Chalkville last week, proving that they are able to contend with the top team in Class 6A.

This game will be a matchup of the Patriots’ strong running game against Selma’s talented defensive front. If the Saints’ offense can put some points on the board, both teams could be in store for another close game.


Dallas County (1-1, 1-0) at Helena (2-0, 1-0)

Dallas County is coming off a 34-6 win against Jemison at home, but this Class 5A, Region 4 game should prove to be a tougher challenge for the Hornets. The Helena Huskies are fresh off a 55-0 victory over Wilcox Central.

Dallas County will be searching for its first road win as it travels an hour to Helena to try to hand the Huskies their first loss of the season.

The Hornets’ defense has been stellar through two games, letting up only one touchdown in each game. The running game for Dallas County has also been strong.

After breaking long runs for touchdowns last Friday, Dallas County’s Calvin Starks and Darrell Moorer are two players to keep an eye on at Helena.


Southside (1-2, 0-1) at Monroe County (0-2, 0-1)

Both Southside and Monroe County are coming off big losses. The Panthers lost 46-8 to Satsuma last week and the Tigers lost 43-8 to Thomasville. Monroe County will be searching for its first win while Southside will look to even its record in this Class 4A, Region 1 clash.

This will be Southside’s third road game in four games. Last week against Satsuma, the Panthers were set back by penalties, which allowed their opponent to run away with the game in the second half.

If the Panthers can keep the penalties to a minimum and get De’Quan Johnson to make the plays he made against Keith two weeks ago, they have a chance to get their first road win and even their region record at 1-1.


Ellwood Christian (2-0) at Lynn (0-2)

The Ellwood Christian Eagles are the only team in Dallas County still undefeated, and it looks like they could remain undefeated after this week. The Lynn Bears have lost their first two games by a combined score of 83-0.

The Eagles are coming off a 32-24 victory at Winterboro where they needed a late touchdown to escape with a win. They also won their first game of the season by just six points.

This game doesn’t figure to be as close as the previous two. If running back Rayford Mitchell can continue to lead the way on offense and Jeremy Perkins can make the big plays on defense, Ellwood Christian will still be undefeated when it faces Keith the following week.


Morgan Academy (0-2, 0-1) at Pike Liberal Arts (1-1, 1-1)

Morgan Academy has dropped its first two games of the season at home and now travels to Troy to face the Pike Liberal Arts Patriots in an AISA Class 3A, Region 1 game.

The two teams are coming off opposite results. The Senators were defeated 44-14 last Friday to Lee-Scott , while the Patriots defeated Monroe Academy 56-7 last week.

For the Senators earn their first win of the season, it’s important to get on the board early. The Senators had to play catch-up against Lee-Scott after falling into a 14-0 hole and it cost them.

Senior quarterback Harrison Adams and senior wide receiver Jackson Henderson are two players to watch for Morgan, as they hooked up twice for the Senators’ only two scores last week.