FRIDAY NIGHT PREVIEW: Red Devils ready for stiff testBy Stephen Dawkins Published 2:36pm Thursday, September 26, 2013
It doesn’t take much to figure out that Maplesville has a good football team.
One needs only to watch the Red Devils play, glance at the 61-4.5 average margin of victory in their four wins this season or just be familiar with the program recently under coach Brent Hubbert and traditionally.
How good is Maplesville?
That is a question that is more difficult to answer.
The four wins have come against teams with a combined 5-11 record this season, and the Red Devils always seem to roll through their regular season almost effortlessly.
Though the final test of the Devils’ mettle will come in the Class 1A playoffs, a pop quiz is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at George Walker Jr. Stadium when Sweet Water visits.
Sweet Water has advanced to at least the third round of the state playoffs each year since 2006, and the Bulldogs have won five state championships in the past nine years.
“It’s a great measuring stick for your program,” MHS coach Brent Hubbert said about the benefits of playing non-region games against high-profile opponents. “You see where you’re at against the best competition in the state. Whether you win or lose, are you competitive against the best in the state?”
The level of competition notwithstanding, this week’s game will be different for the Devils for the simple fact that the regular contributors are likely to be on the field for the entire contest. Coaches have substituted freely in the second halves of Maplesville’s four blowout wins this season.
Hubbert said that while he’s confident the MHS players are in sound physical shape, the mental toll required to maintain focus for a full game against a tough opponent will be a new experience for his team.
“We have kids that, unfortunately, bust their tails all week in practice and then only get to play six or seven plays on Friday night,” Hubbert said. “Now you’re expecting them to play a full 48 minutes.”
Sweet Water has defeated Maplesville in the teams’ last four meetings. Three of those came in the Class 1A playoffs, but Sweet Water moved up to Class 2A last season, and the foes met in a non-region game, with Sweet Water winning 17-14.
Hubbert said this year’s Sweet Water team bears a strong resemblance to the Sweet Water teams that came before it.
“They always have big kids. They make no mistakes, play great defense and execute what they do on offense,” Hubbert said. “There’s no secret to what they want to do, and there’s no secret for what they’re going to do.”
What Sweet Water is likely to do is give Maplesville a healthy dose of star running back Jakoby Aldridge, who is averaging more than 200 yards rushing per game. Paving the way for Aldridge will be 240-pound Demarcus Gamble.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” Hubbert said. “We’re going to have to play great defense. We know the backs are going to make some big runs, but we’ve got to limit them.”
Hubbert pointed to another aspect of the game fans might not think much about. He said a shanked punt in last year’s game wound up costing the Devils seven points, which could have been the difference between winning and losing.
“Neither one of us has punted much this year,” Hubbert said. “We’ve told ours all along, sooner or later we’re going to have to use it.”
Maplesville’s passing game is likely to have to contribute more than it has so far, as quarterback Colby Chambers, who led all Chilton County areas in passing a year ago, is averaging just 85 passing yards a game because opponents haven’t been able to stop Maplesville’s stable of rushers.
“We can’t shoot ourselves in the foot,” Hubbert said. “When we have opportunities to make plays, we have to make them.”
Who will win the Sweet Water-Maplesville game?
- Maplesville (65%, 28 Votes)
- Sweet Water (35%, 15 Votes)
Total Voters: 43
Also Friday night
Holt (0-4) at Billingsley (2-2)
Billingsley struggled somewhat last week but came on strong in the fourth quarter to defeat Sunshine. If the Bears can pick up another win this week, on homecoming, they should have a nice shot of momentum heading back into region play.