The Austin Black Bears travel to Sparkman to take on the Senators in a big Class 7A, Region 4 game at Sparkman Senator Stadium Friday night. Both teams come into the game at 5-0 overall and 3-0 in region play.
Austin has region wins over Florence (30-25), Gadsden City (17-6) and Grissom (49-7) along with non-region wins over Hartselle and Decatur. The last time Austin lost to Sparkman was back in 2006.
"We are a team of getting better, playing the game the right way," said Black Bears head coach Jeremy Perkins. "We are learning to play together and playing together as a team. Guys understand the ins and outs, the game plans and how to adjust so we are improving every single week."
The Austin offense is averaging 39.4 points per game in five games so far this season. Quarterback Quincy Crittendon leads the Black Bears offense. Crittendon can throw it and run it. He has a great understanding of the Austin offense and runs it well. "Quincy is very talented to start with," added Perkins. "He has a good head on his shoulders. He has a great love for the game and soaks in everything we tell him. He trys to make every situation a learning situation and grows from that experience."
Austin has one of the best running backs in Class 7A. Tybo Williams can go with the best of them. "Tybo is a tough runner and is extremely quick," said Perkins. "He has good vision and sees the holes along with running with no fear." Williams is coming is coming off two 200-yard games in back to back games.
Running backs Jevon Jackson, Kendall Scales and Williams run behind a talented offensive line of Bradley Barnett, Alexander Machedo, Colton Collier and Jaylon Munford. At receiver, Tre Shackelford, Jabari Brown, Jayvin Elliott and Kenneth Sanders-Allen lead the way for the Black Bears. Jackson and Scales play multiple roles in the Black Bears offense. They are the feature backs at times, pulled out at receiver at times and they block well for the other runners when called to do so. They do everything well. They are just as good with the ball and without the ball. Coach Perkins calls them the unsung heros due to their roles on the team.
On defense, Austin is giving up 13.2 points per game. Mike linebacker Charles Baker is the anchor of the Black Bears defense and makes sure every is in their correct spot on each play. Defensive back Jaylon Barrett is another quarterback for the defense. A player that is having an outstanding start to the season is defensive end Awysum Harris. The senior DL is getting high praise from his head coach.
Up front on defense are Harris, Daiontrelle Hubbard, Omorian Malone and Michael Wiley. With Baker at linebacker is Ronald Fletcher and Jakari Fuller. In the secondary with Barrett is Jaden Baker, Tarik Sykes and Jaterrious Johnson.
Sparkman has region wins over Gadsden City (51-27), Grissom (45-6) and Huntsville (38-21) along with non-region over Hazel Green and Buckhorn. Sparkman shutout Buckhorn 38-0 last week. "We are still a work in progress, the kids are engaged," said Senators head coach Laron White. "The players are excited on playing football but we are working hard to get better each week."
The Sparkman offense starts with quarterback Nick Sawyer. The junior QB is having a good year for the Senators. "Nick is getting better each game," added White. "We try not to put a lot of pressure. We are pleased with his progression. Nick can run, he can get away from pressure." Also, the Senators go with a two quarterback system. Sophomore Luke Schomburg will get snaps at that position. Both are similair in skill set, but Sawyer can run the ball a little faster.
The Senators have a big offensive line to protect their QB's in Micah Pettus, Shawn Sellers, Genesis Reedus, Tate Campbell. Pettus has offers from Alabama A&M, Alabama State, Charlotte, Howard, Jackson State, Jacksonville State, Middle Tennessee, Troy and Southern Miss. "Micah is a great player, a massive young man," said White. "He was injured a few weeks ago, but he is full speed now. He can take over a game and be dominate on the offensive line."
At running back, Tavion Rupert and Jaylon Atkinson get the bulk of the carries. Rupert had rushed for 109 yards on 9 carries & 3 TD's with a 95-yard kickoff return for a TD versus Huntsville earlier in the season. Sawyer has weapons on the outside in Cam Foley, Jakevion Dobbs and Xavier White. "Cam can stretch the field for us and that is important," said White. "Sometimes you forget about him out there, he can run a speed sweep and catch the football. He is dangorous, he can make a big play for us at anytime." Dobbs is that unsung hero each team has according to coach White. He has good good hands and catches the ball very well.
The Sparkman defense is giving up 13.6 points per game and is having a good season. Safety Khalil Griffin is the quarterback on defense. "Khalil is very smart and instinctive," added White. "He has played a lot of defense over his time. He gets everyone in their right places. If it is not right, he will come to the sidelines to get with a coach and talk about it instead of just letting it go and moving on. He wants it right and that is important to our defense." Against Huntsville, the senior DB had 20 tackles, one interception, one fumble recovery.
Mackenzie Howard at linebacker is having a solid season for the Senators. Throw in Joseph Fortson and Tyshun Gaiter at that linebacker position the Senators have are solid at linebacker. Gavin Ransaw at noseguard has been an unsung here according to Coach White for the Senators. Also on the defensive front is KaRon White, Darius Love-Roston and Tyeus Clemons.
With Griffin in the secondary are AJ Readus, Caleb Ransaw and Reese Stogner. They are playing well for the Senators at the halfway point in the season.