Game of the Week: No. 9 Morgan hosts Glenwood

Published 1:13 am Thursday, September 13, 2018

The No. 9 Morgan Academy Senators (3-1) carry a three-game win streak into a home matchup against The Glenwood School Gators (1-3) on Friday, Sept. 14.

The Senators and the Gators have a history of playing close, hard-fought games that have playoff implications down the road.

In 2017, the Senators lost by 10 to the Gators mid-way during the regular season. But the teams met again in the first round of the AISA playoffs, and Morgan Academy upset the Gators with a 21-14 win to advance to the second round.

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This season, the Senators and the Gators are in the same region and this week five game carries even more weight than it did in 2017.

The Senators defense has led the way for the team this season. Through four games, Morgan Academy has yet to allow a passing touchdown and only given up four rushing touchdowns. No. 6 Pike Liberal is responsible for three of those four touchdowns alone.

Pike Liberal and No. 10 Patrician Academy are the only two teams to exceed 100 rushing yards against the Senators (187 and 119 respectively), and the only two teams to reach the end zone.

The defensive unit already has five interceptions and four forced fumbles.

“The defense is what gives our team an opportunity to win every Friday night,” Morgan Academy head coach Josh Thacker said. “Anytime you face a coach Shaun Bonds coached defense, you’re going to face a nightmare. We’re hoping that’s what shows up on Friday.”

Morgan Academy’s defense has allowed the offense plenty of opportunities to operate. The Senators are averaging 136.25 rushing yards per game and 202.5 passing yards per game. They have also reached the end zone 17 times already (12 rushing and 5 passing).

Even though the Gators have a losing record to start the year, this isn’t a game the Senators should overlook.

“I think people really have the wrong opinion when the look at Glenwood and see that they’re 1-3,” Thacker said. “They’ve played four of the toughest opponents in the AISA … All of those games have been very competitive games. Their record is nowhere near reflective of what kind of football program they are.”

The Gators are an athletic team with an active defense. The team switches up its coverages and alignments, which presents its own challenge for the Senators.

“Defensively, they present some trouble for us,” Thacker said. “I think we do match up with them well athletically. It’s going to be exciting on Friday night.”

Last year, the regular season game didn’t have an impact on the Senators playoff chances. However, now that the two teams co-exist in the same region, the Glenwood game will have an impact in the standings.

“This game, with a win on Friday can put us back in the playoffs,” Thacker said. “Just getting the confidence to be able to attack a team like Glenwood and get some success over that team would be huge for us.”

Selma High

The Selma High Saints (0-2) will hit the road again this week to face region opponent Benjamin Russell (2-1) on Friday night.

The Saints lost big last week to Opelika, and need to rebound quickly to avoid falling behind in the Class 6A Region 3 standings.

“Last week was an eye-opener for us,” Selma High assistant coach De’Andre Wilson said. “We got work to do. This lost let us know that we have to get back to the basics and pay closer attention to detail.”

Selma High and Benjamin Russell haven’t faced each other since 1997, when the Saints lost 34-7.

Preparing for the Wildcats means preparing for a running attack. Selma High assistant coach De’Andre Wilson focused on returning the basics and getting the team ready to face the Wildcats offense, which is averaging 21 points per game.

“From what we’ve seen, it looks like they want to come out and run the ball. Our mentality on defense has been to come out and stop the run.”

The second region game of the year begins to separate the teams in the standings, and the Saints understand how important this game can be for its future.

Ellwood Christian vs. Keith

The Ellwood Christian Eagles (0-2) host the Keith High Bears (1-1) this Friday at Memorial Stadium.

Both teams are coming off big losses, but will square-up for an early region game.

Last week, the Eagles were forced to switch up their game plan and operate out of the spread while trying to play catch-up to Holy Spirit.

This week at practice, Ellwood head coach Migeual Catlin took a more hands-on approach to get his team back to the fundamentals.

The Eagles know they have to prepare for the Bears running game.

“That’s going to be it for us,” Catlin said. “Trying to tackle their backs Levi Thomas, Ledell Jackson and Kendarius Perry. We’re going to have to tackle those guys well and get all 11 hats on the ball.”

The running game is Keith’s bread-and-butter, but they were stonewalled by Linden this past Friday.

Keith head football coach Anthony Lumpkin spent the week at practice focusing on correcting errors and mental mistakes that cost the team in penalties and negative plays against Linden.

Returning to the ground game will present a problem for Ellwood, that is if the Bears don’t shoot themselves in the foot with penalties.

“We’re not taking them for granted,” Lumpkin said. “They are a smaller team, but we can’t take them for granted. We gotta go out and take care of business. Play physical football and do the things that we do best, which is try to be a balanced team running and passing the ball.”

Not only is this a matchup of local schools, but Ellwood and Keith are in the same region this season. Both teams will enter 0-1 in the region, and the winner will get a step ahead in the standings.

Dallas County

Dallas County (0-2) goes on the road to face Sumter Central (0-3) on Friday night.

Both teams are looking for their first win of the season, but Dallas County is looking for its first points of the season.

Sumter Central has gotten on the board, but have been blown out in their past two games.

The winner of this game escapes the bottom of the Class 4A Region 3 standings.


The Southside Panthers (0-3) are still looking for its first win of the season, and face a new region opponent in Pike Road (3-0) this Friday.

The two teams have never played before, mainly because this is Pike Road’s first year fielding a varsity football team. The first-year program doesn’t have its own field, so the game will be played at Alabama State’s Hornet Stadium.

The Panthers are looking to get back to the basics after facing three difficult opponents to open the season. In each of the first three games, the Panthers have given up more than 30 points to opponents.

In Southside head coach Daniel Flowers seven seasons coaching the Panthers, the team has never started a season 0-3. This is the school’s worst start since 2012, the year before Flowers took over the program.

“We can only really go up,” he said. “I knew our first four games would be a tough stretch to start the year off, but I just want to make sure we were getting better each week. I feel like this week we finally started getting a little better. We didn’t have any injuries besides the guys that were hurt already, and the guys’ energy level has been up. They don’t feel like an 0-3 team. They feel like it’s only a matter of time until we get that first win.”

Despite the early losses, Flowers remains encouraged that his team is getting better.

Facing a new program brings more questions than answers when it comes to preparation. But Flowers knows that Pike Road has an explosive running back and a good passing quarterback.

The Pike game is the second region game of the season, and each region games becomes more important as the season advances.

“It’s not how you start, but how you finish,” Flowers said. “All games are important, but the reason this one is important is because it’s the next game.”

Meadowview Christian

Meadowview Christian School (0-3) had a quick turnaround after last week’s loss, and will face Marengo Academy (0-4) for its first road game on Thursday night.

Meadowview head football coach Bob Taylor normalized this week’s practice as much as he could to make sure his players still had enough time to prepare for the game.

Both Marengo and Meadowview have had their issues on offense this season. Meadowview has scored in each of its first three games, but only once per game.

Marengo, on the other hand, has been shutout twice and have only scored 15 points in four games.

“Marengo has a very good running game and the quarterback is very efficient,” Taylor said. “They give a lot of different looks that you have to prepare for.”

The game is an opportunity for either team to pick up a region win. It’s still early in the season and the outcome will begin to shape the Region 1 standings.