HISTORIC PROPORTIONS: ‘Cats chase record fourth-straight AISA titlePublished 10:04am Wednesday, November 20, 2013
As the 2013 football season panned out, the championship forecast for the Edgewood Wildcats (13-0) and the Clarke Prepatory Gators (8-4) thickened with fog.
Injuries to key players and mainstay starters had Bobby Carr and Billy Hamilton checking the radar for stabilization and reliability. Both teams weathered the storm.
And now, the forecast reads an Alabama Independent School Association Class AA championship rematch between the two at Troy University Friday at 3:30 p.m.
“For us, the biggest thing is when we had all those injuries, our kids just needed to find a way to weather the storm to get everybody back and healthy,” said Carr about his Wildcats. “Now we got everybody out there. Some of them are still nicked up and banged up, but we got them out there. (Clarke Prep’s) dealt with a lot of adversity like we’ve dealt with. They got a lot of their guys back. We were fortunate enough to stay undefeated going through that, and they unfortunately lost a couple.”
Three weeks into the regular season, Hamilton said he didn’t know where his team would be at this point in the year.
“We were devastated by injuries,” Hamilton said. “But our guys worked hard and overcame. We got a few of the players back and that’s made a difference down the stretch run here. I don’t want to say we’re just happy to be (in the championship game), but we’re happy to be there.”
Clarke Prep and Edgewood meet again for the Class AA title for the second consecutive season. In 2012, the Wildcats bested the Gators 41-29. The familiarity is there, so for both squads, this year’s title bout comes down to execution.
“We had a chance last year,” said Hamilton. “Bobby’s got a fantastic program, he’s got very well-coached players who don’t make mistakes. We made mistakes in that ballgame last year. But what we have to do is we fix us. We took it away from us last year. We haven’t talked about revenge whatsoever, it’s all about us.”
Same as for the 2012 championship, the gameplan will be take away what the other team does best and limit their chances.
“Everybody knows when they play us, they want to slow it down and grind it out,” Carr said. “It’s no secret everybody does it with us. So, what we’d like to do is play fast, get up on them and get them out their gameplan. We got to make it tough for them to do what they like to do. They’re going to try to take that away from us, keep us off the field. So, it’s going to be a challenge for our defense, because we’ve got to make them punt.”
Gators will attempt to eat the clock with fullback Jarrett Pope, who’s coming off a game with three touchdowns on 37 carries for 201 yards and ran over 200 yards against Edgewood in last season’s title game.
But the Gators needed a last second pass to earn its spot in championship.
“They definitely throw it better than they have in the past, and it definitely be a little tougher, but we know that it’s not what they like to do,” said Carr. “I hope they line up and throw it all over the place. That’ll be a lot easier to defend than that big No. 9 they got.”
A win Friday for the Wildcats will set an AISA record for consecutive state championships and longest win streak at 45. A chance at history, Carr said, has not added any additional pressure on his team.
“They want that and that’s expected,” he said. “When they put on that Edgewood uniform, they want to win.We knew at the beginning of the year that if we ran the gauntlet, that we’d have a chance.
“Our kids expect to win every time they put on that uniform. We’ve created a monster and you have to feed that monster, and they want that championship.”