Friday, November 16, 2012 — East Columbus (9-4) at Albemarle (12-1)
The Albemarle varsity football team has no shortage of players with a lot of speed on the team’s roster this season, but the Bulldogs will need every last RPM of speed to go up against an East Columbus Gators team at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow night that takes advantage of its’ overall team speed to pressure opposing offenses while trying to get upfield with the ball as fast as possible.
“They have a lot of team speed and good size,” Albemarle head coach Danny Akins said.
“They do not run many plays [on offense], but what they run, they run well and block well. You can’t key on any running back on defense, each one has speed and size.”
Nick McClure is the team’s leading rusher with more than 1,000 yards this season, but the team has several running backs that have been effective this year. In last week’s 66-20 win over South Stanly, it was sophomore Terrin Manning that ran for 127 first-quarter yards.
The Gators’ offense goes up against an Albemarle defensive squad that ranks among the best in the Bulldogs’ defensive history since 1962, having allowed a mere 95 points in 13 games. The fewest points allowed by an Albemarle defense was in the 1-AA championship year of 2003, when Jack Gaster’s squad allowed just 77 points. The Bulldogs have only allowed 13 points in their last five games and have won nine games in a row.
When the Bulldogs have the football, the Gators bring pressure from every part of their 3-5 alignment and never give defenses the same look on two consecutive plays.
“They bring the heat and try to get you before you get started; they have speed to match up on the corners and play man-to-man so they can bring the linebackers,” Akins said, adding that if the offense can break the line of scrimmage, the potential is there for the Bulldogs to get some big plays on offense.
“The two teams match up well; in the third week of the playoffs, everyone is good,” Akins said, adding that when two teams are matched up fairly equally, the mental game is a bigger part than normal, like penalties and turnovers that can “sway the momentum very quickly.”
Albemarle could host the winner of the Murphy / Rosman game next week, while East Columbus could either host Rosman or travel to Murphy with a win Friday night. One of those four teams will play for a 1A state title at 11 a.m. on Dec. 1 at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh.