GRIDIRON GUIDE: Loaded ‘Cats aim at fifth straigh titlePublished 10:44am Thursday, August 21, 2014
In the last four years the story has been the same at Edgewood Academy.
The Wildcats have had one of the more prolific passing games in the area, leaving it up to opposing defenses to try to stop it.
That hasn’t happened. There are four state championship trophies sitting in the school’s trophy case to prove it.
The story changes this year, but head coach Bobby Carr hopes the outcome will be the same.
For the first time since Carr has been at the helm Edgewood will rely on the running back tandem of Josh Crawford and Herman McKenzie to carry the load.
“I don’t think there is a coach in the state that has a backfield as talented as we have,” Carr said. “Josh is a bruiser and Herman is so fast that if he was in a phone booth it would still take five people to hem him up.”
Crawford, who committed to Vanderbilt earlier in the summer, accounted for 2,475 total yards and 37 touchdowns.
McKenzie, who transferred in from Tallassee High, rushed for 1,312 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. A year before that, McKenzie rushed for more than 1,800 yards.
“Our plan is to set up the pass with the run,” Carr said. “And that’s different from in years past.”
Running Edgewood’s offense is Pensacola, Florida, transfer Ryan Bottoms.
Bottoms was sidelined for his entire junior season after breaking his foot, according to Carr.
“He’s a pro-style quarterback, who has picked up our offense really well,” Carr added.
While most of Edgewood’s opponents will likely try to slow down the Wildcats’ rushing game, the passing game will still be a factor.
Even with colleges and universities keeping a watchful eye on the running back tandem, the star of this year’s team may be defense.
Edgewood returns nine starters on defense this season.
Depth may not be as much of an issue this year for Carr either. Edgewood will dress 58 players this year.
“It was nice to stand on the sideline the other night during a scrimmage and see we has so few players going both ways,” he said. “We’ve got some who will be called on to play both ways, but not as many.”
With more players that also means more options. Carr said the key to Edgewood capturing an Alabama Independent School Association record fifth straight state title will be “unselfishness.”
“We need to avoid injuries and play with an unselfish attitude,” he said. “Just like one of our T-shirts say, ‘The little E is a lot more important than the name on the back.’”
Carr also knows his team will continue to have a huge target on its back, while it carries the nation’s fifth-longest active winning streaks.
The last time Edgewood lost a game was in October 2010. Since then, the Wildcats have collected 45 straight wins.
“The streak is starting to be talked about in the locker room a little more as we get closer to opening the season,” Carr said. “And it’s one of our team goals since no other AISA team has won five straight state championships.”
Currently the 45-game winning streak is the longest active winning streak in the state, but it is still 10 wins shy of the state’s all-time leader — Clay County.
From 1994-97, Clay County won 55 straight games. Edgewood could match and even surpass that number this year.