In a big Class 6A, Region 4 game Friday night, the McAdory Yellow Jackets travel to Tuscaloosa to play the Hillcrest Patriots in a key game. McAdory and Hueytown lead the region at 3-0 and Hillcrest is trying to hang with everyone with a 2-1 record in the region.
Both teams are coming off region wins last week with McAdory defeating Brookwood (40-7) while Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa took down undefeated Northridge (49-14) and probably played their best game of the season. "Feel like we found our identity a little bit in the first half of the season," said Patriots head coach Jamie Mitchell. "We have ironed some things out about ourselves. We feel like we know who we are and putting the players in the right spots with a new staff this year."
McAdory (6-1, 3-0) comes into the game with a win over Brookwood (40-7) last week. The Yellow Jackets have been pretty consistent on offense this season. Quarterback Cam Shepherd leads the way for McAdory. The senior quarterback can run it or throw it with the best of them along with his leadership for the team. "Cam has become a great leader and they look to him to make plays for the team," said Yellow Jackets head coach Aryvia Holmes. "He puts the offense in good situations and that is very important to us."
Shepherd had four very good receivers to go to at anytime on the field. Jabari Strait, Kris Merritt, Jacorey Whitted along with Aden Boyd have been very good for the Yellow Jackets. Strait and Merritt have the speed to go long at anytime while Whitted is a big target that stands around 6'7" tall. Whitted is a very good basketball player adding football to his overall game. Boyd plays in the slot and can even run the ball a few times a game. "Sometimes I'm to conservative wanting to run the ball and play good defense," added Holmes. "Those guys are very good and do a good job for us."
The running game of Rod Thomas and Peyton Ryans give the Yellow Jackets a good one-two punch. Thomas can run the ball inside or outside of the tackles while Ryans is very shifty running back that can make the defense miss on tackles. "I like both of our backs," said Holmes. "I don't know if I have ever coached any two that are that good. They completment each other very well. They get along with each other. You really two good backs on the wear and tear of the season at this level. We are very fortunate. They can hit home runs and play physical."
The offensive line is gritty and play hard as a unit. They might not be the most talented group but they are learning the game week by week. Carson Roberts, Jaxon Hudgins, Ja'myll Lindsey, Kaleb May and Joshua Anderson have come together since the start of the season and are making a big difference in the McAdory offense.
The defense is very good and athletic. Defensive lineman Curtis Weatherspoon is a run stuffer or can get to the quarterback. Defensive lineman Malachi Frazier is another good one for McAdory. Kaleb May and Trevyon Curry get playing time for McAdory. The defensive front is solid.
At linebacker, Ken Kelley can play all over the field. He can rush the quarerback and shut down an opposing run game. Very solid tackler for the Yellow Jackets. Linebackers Nathan Lake is another solid player. Defensive backs Ladedric Taylor, Ferderrius Sims, Dailyn Kelley and Yumana Lofton get playing time for McAdory.
Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa (4-2, 2-1) brings in a lot of talant on offense. The Patriots average over 35 points per game and is looking to be a balanced team on offense. Quarterback Ethan Crawford has started the last three years.The 2023 QB can do a lot of good things with the ball in his hands. "He can do it all," said Mitchell. "He can extend plays with his legs, keeps plays alives. We are glad he is on our side." Crawford holds offers from Tennessee, Central Florida, Middle Tennessee and Georgia Tech.
The running game has Ja Johnson at tailback and fullback Jay Brown. "We're a more a tranditional type team on running the football with a tight end, fullback and tailback," added Mitchell. "Both are little different and compliment each other very well."
At receiver Tarrance Callaway has good speed and has good hands on catching the football and can make the big play at anytime this season for the Patriots. "He is a big target out on the field," said Mitchell. "He is a tough matchup because of his size for smaller DB's. Phenominal hands." Another good one at receiver is Derek Hall. Hall has great speed and can really fly out on the field. J'quon Sturdivant and Jamarcus Prince get playing time at receiver. Tight end Jackson Henderson is a good blocker but can sneek out on a pass play a time or two.
The offensive line is getting better each week. Dawson Sullivan, Jordan Redmond, Jeremy Barnes, Grady Hinton and Sean Franklin are coming together on the offensive line front. "This area we are sorting out and have rotated some guys in and out," added Mitchell. "I think we are getting to a good point, but at times it has been a struggle to get those five guys." Barnes is the Patriots best offensive lineman this season. He has been the rock of the line. Defensive lineman Corr'yon Watson has come over on the offensive side to give help to the Patriots offensive line at times. Watson is still learning the offense but he is a next level guy on defense.
The Patriots defense has been strong this season. "Been very pleased about the defense," said Mitchell. "They play fast and physical. Super good defense for the most part. Group that has got a whole bunch tougher. They are ahead of what we want to do on offense, but that is expected. They have played really well of late.
Defensive lineman Tyler Coleman and Matthew Cockrell are run stuffers. Micah Brown and Jordan Taggart getting playing time for the Patriots on the defensive line. Linebackers Kendrick Davis and Collin Dunn are special players for the Patriots. Dunn just was offered by Kansas State. Dunn has the speed and power to play all over the field. Also, Dunn holds an offer from Maryland. Donaven Colvin, Jawvan Nickson, Ty Pruitt, Preston Clendenin and Tarrance Grant getting playing time on the Patriots defense. The secondary has Braylon Howard, Katoris Vaughan and Barkley Crawford.
Both teams have balanced teams when you can throw it anytime on the field and can run the ball with consistency. Both teams want the home field advantage in the playoffs along with Hueytown.