By Barry Allen
Special to The Dispatch
MILLPORT, Ala. – The South Lamar High School football team snapped a 15-game losing streak with a 42-19 win over the Lynn Bears last weekend. The teams went almost 700 days between victories so when they hit the practice field on Monday, there was a different attitude.
“Naturally we have a little more pep in our step,” first year head coach Shannon McGregory said. “We are healthy coming out of the game and our concentration level is better. Every week is crucial to us right now in our first season. We are not there yet as far as execution, but we are getting there. We have to get better every week.”
He said the losing streak was beginning to take its toll on the football team.
“It kind of takes a burden off your shoulders,” McGregory said. “When you lose that many games in a row it affects you mentally and physically at the same time. When you win all of that goes away and there is a better attitude. It makes you feel better as a coach and the players feel better after all the hard work they have put into it. It has been worthwhile.”
The Stallions opened the season with back-to-back losses to Lamar County and Pickens County by a combined 92-7. The Bulldogs are 4-0 and ranked No. 4 in this week’s Alabama Sportswriters Association Class 2A poll. The Tornadoes are 4-0 and ranked No. 1 in the ASWA Class 1A poll.
“We played two really good football teams the first two weeks,” McGregory said. “They were very tough football games for us.”
South Lamar dropped a 22-12 decision to Brilliant in week three and finally broke through with a win last week at Lynn.
“We matched up well with Brilliant,” McGregory said. “We made a few mistakes and they caught a few breaks and that was the difference in the game. We were a little more physical than Lynn up front and we executed batter.”
McGregory credits the defense for the turnaround. The Stallions held Brilliant to minus 27 total yards in the second half. In the win over Lynn, Talbert Tate made 11 tackles to lead the South Lamar defense. Dustin Weathers added four tackles and two fumble recoveries to go with an interception.
“We have played well defensively since the second half of the Brilliant game,” McGregory said. “Our defensive front has done a really good job, but out entire defense has played well the last two weeks.”
The Stallions will seek its second straight win of the season with a long road trip to Coosa Central in Rockford, Ala. The Class 3A Cougars are 1-3 on the season.
The other headliner of non-region games this week has Aliceville taking on top-ranked Pickens County at G.S. Spruill Stadium in Reform.
The Tornadoes lead the all-time series 34-27-1 following last year’s 35-14 win at Memorial Stadium in Aliceville. Pickens County has won five of the last six meetings in a series that dates back to 1919. Pickens County is averaging 30 points in last five wins over Aliceville, while the defense has held the Yellow Jackets to 9.2 points per game during that span. Aliceville won 11 of 14 meetings from 1991-2006, including a five-game winning streak from 2002-06.
Pickens County (4-0, 3-0 Class A, Region 5) has scored 156 points in its last three games against region foes South Lamar, Lynn and Brilliant. The Tornadoes scored 78 points in the win over Lynn on Sept. 13 and posted a 40-0 shutout win over Brilliant last week.
Aliceville (3-1, 2-0 Class 2A, Region 4) puts a three-game winning streak on the line against its county rival. The Yellow Jackets are averaging 31.3 points per game in wins over Hale County, Sulligent and Cold Springs the last three weeks.
Pickens Academy (5-0, 3-0 AISA Region 2) puts its unbeaten record on the line with a trip to Eastwood Christian. The fourth-ranked Pirates are averaging 33.4 points following last week’s 29-7 win at Southern Choctaw Academy.
Lamar County (4-0, 3-0 Class 2A Region 4) steps out of region play this week with a trip to Berry High School in Fayette. The Bulldogs high-powered offense is averaging 40 points per game this season. Lamar County has scored 40 or more points three times, including the last two weeks against R.C. Hatch and Sulligent.
Sulligent (0-4, 0-2 Class 2A, Region 4) seeks its first win of the season at Class 3A Fayette County High School. The Blue Devils have been outscored 189-44 this season and now must take on the Tigers, who finished runner up in Class 3A last season.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.