The #6 Bessemer City Purple Tigers travel to #4 Hueytown to take on the Golden Gophers Friday night at the Hueytown High School Stadium. Both teams come into this game at 6-0 overall and 3-0 in Class 6A, Region 4. The winner will have the tie breaker in the region that could go a long way for region champion.
Last year Hueytown won 33-14 and Bessemer City is looking to redeem that loss this season. "We have fought hard and have played well defensively," said Purple Tigers head coach Andrew Zow. "We have beat the odds due to what it looked like when the season started. Our defense has come together over the last two weeks. Our defense is still ahead of the offense and we are trying to stay together in the verbage from last season. I'm asking the kids what do you run or this is our play, but what do you called it last year so we are trying to get on the same page offensively." Coach Zow took the Bessemer City program in the summer time and had a late start to the fall season.
Bessemer City has speed all over the field. The Purple Tigers average 26.2 points per game. Quarterback Rishard Densmore is the key to the Bessemer City offense. "We want to spread the ball around so I don't want Rishard to be the bell cow on running the ball every game due to it is a long season," added Zow. "I want him fresh for the playoffs and ask other guys to step up with him. He has done exactly what we need him to do on spreading the ball around but when we need him to make a big play for the team, he has done that." Earlier in the season, Densmore completed 9-of-16 passing for 223 yards and two touchdowns with 89 yards rushing and two touchdowns against Class 7A Spain Park.
At running back, Deontae Hall, Covantae Harrell and Seth McPherson lead the way. "Deontae has done a great job of finding those holes," said Zow. "He has been a relief for Rishard. He has stepped his game up and we are looking for him to finish the season well." Last week against Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa, Hall rushed for 209 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown in the game.
The Purple Tigers running backs run behind offensive lineman Sophomore Anez Cooper (6-4, 315-pounder), Jamal Perry, Laroyal Miles, Jared Perry and Ytis Thompson. Jamal and Jared are brothers and they bring a lot of physical play to the line. "They are both big guys," said Zow. "They are both physical. They are tough when they like to double team someone on the defensive line."
At receiver Bessemer City has a lot of options. Jaquan Rollins is a big target for the Purple Tigers. Last week Rollins caught a deep touchdown pass around three defensive backs in the end zone. Jaylen Cook, Vaunte Harrell, Ananias Ware and Kaleb Webster all can make big plays for the Purple Tigers. Tight end JaMichael Rogers has come around this season and is one of the unsung heroes on the team. "JaMichael doesn't say a lot but comes to work every practice," added Zow. "We moved him to tight end this season to see how he would do for the team. He has been a great asset for us at that position. Defensively he is a force to be wrecken with."
The Purple Tigers defense only give up 9.3 points per game and it all starts with linebacker DeMarkus Cunningham. "He is the leader on that side of the ball," said Zow. "He is very confident in his play. The defense responds to him and he can make the right calls and the other guys can lean on him. He is very versatile. He blitzes well, very athletic in getting to the point of the ball. He has worked hard in the weight room and likes to play football." Cunningham has offers from UAB, Coastal Carolina, Florida Atlantic, Memphis, Navy and others.
With Cunningham at linebacker is DeCorlion Robinson, Recorian Williams and Rick Hall. They have been closing down opponents run game this season. Up front you have Anthony Bester, Rogers, DaClifton Thompson and Tay Tay Hutchins. The defensive backfield of Roy Williams, Jakorrius Williams, Treyton Thomas, Calvin Townes, and Cameron Luster lead the way for the Purple Tigers.
For Hueytown, the Golden Gophers offense has averaged a whopping 37.7 points per game. The one-two punch of Roydell Williams and Antonio Mason is a big problem for the opposing defenses. Mason has been slowed by an ankle injury but is pretty much full strength coming into this game with Bessemer City. "I've been real happy with all the hard work these guys have put in the first half of the season," said Hueytown head coach Greg Patterson. "They worked hard all season in the offseason in the weight room and it has really paid off for us. Glad to be 6-0 and a chance to win the region."
At quarterback, first year starter Alex Young has done a solid job of spreading the ball around to a lot of offensive weapons. "Alex has been phenomenal and he has made more good plays that bad plays for a first year starter," added Patterson. "He has progressed really, really well for a young player. He has taken stress of our two running back spreading the ball around to our other players." Young had one of his best games against Homewood to start the season when he completed 12-of-17 passing for 191 yards and three touchdowns.
With Williams and Mason at running back, teams are going to keep an eye on Williams cause he is lined up at a lot of positions these days. Williams can be seen beside Young at running back for a handoff or screen play or in the slot position for a jet sweep play or a pass play or can be at the wildcat position to run or throw the ball down the field. On defense, look for Williams to play a few snaps at the defensive end position or linebacker position on certain times of the game. "We have been putting both together since Antonio is getting healthy again," said Patterson. "It causes stress on defenses where Roydell lined up on each play. We will give a lot of multiple looks during a game. Antonio brings another level of physicality while Roydell brings so much versatility where he can line up."
At receiver, Jordan Ivery, Quindarrius Mayes De'Andre Coleman are in the mix and can stretch the field for the Golden Gophers. The offensive line of Hunter Gothard, Raymond Hill, Antonio Little, Jayson Buie, Richard Pearce and Damario Kendrick are power drivers for the Golden Gophers run game. Most of the time they will give Williams and Mason enough room for them to find their hole and make big plays for Hueytown.
On defense, Hueytown gives us 15.5 points per game. The anchor of the defense is nose guard Mike Hines. Hines just committed to The Navel Academy and usually takes a double team to move him out of the middle and they eats up blockers for his linebackers to move in for the tackle. "Mike has played extremely, extremely well and I'm glad he is on our side," added Patterson. "He just a difference maker. Not many players can single block him and it takes a double team to put on him. He causes offensive co-ordinators to scheme around him." With Mike Hines on the defensive line play, Hueytown has little brother Mikel Hines, Jonathan Files and Ian Bridges who will look to get after the Bessemer City backfield players.
At linebacker, you have Emmanuel Hayes and Mikale Trice for the Golden Gophers. "Emmanuel has been a great addition moving him down from the secondary," said Patterson. "Are D-line has played very, very well. That gives Emmanuel and Mikale to run around and make plays. Emmanuel has played a lot of snaps the last few years and he has helped first-year starter Mikale out."
A few unsung heroes on the Hueytown roster is safety Antonio Jackson. "Antonio is here everyday, one time, does his job," said Patterson. "He is the backbone of your team. You need those kids like him that come to work. I've never seen him have a bad day, always with a big smile on his face." Other defensive players for Hueytown are Payne Knight, Marcus Stevens, Jaden Jones, T'Karri Parker, Lorenza Moore and Greg Trammell.