Jemison, Isabella continue to defy expectations

Published 11:51 am Saturday, September 13, 2008

Jemison and Isabella are the story of area football for the third week in a row. Who would have guessed?

Coach Brad Abbott has done a great job at Jemison, but even Panthers fans have to be a little surprised their team is 3-0 right now, considering the team’s struggles against rival Chilton County High and a test against perennial power Calera in Week 3. In both those games, the Panthers have displayed a quality that separates successful teams: the ability to find a way to win close games.

A couple of examples: Jemison scored two of its touchdowns on fourth down plays, and the hosts held Calera to 0-for-9 on third down attempts en route to a 21-19 win.

That same quality was evident in Isabella’s 23-14 decision over Vincent. The nine-point margin of victory could be almost entirely attributed to defensive plays. Blake Lawley ran an interception back for a touchdown before halftime, and Austin Haigler recorded a safety to ice the game late.

Like Jemison, Isabella’s start is somewhat unexpected. The Mustangs won five games last season, but how they would fare in Class 2A was a question. The team has responded emphatically.

As expected, Billingsley, Maplesville and Verbena won handily. Two other local teams, Chilton County High and Marbury, lost handily.

Carver-Montgomery had little trouble with CCHS. It had to be expected that the Tigers would struggle in this game, but there were some positives to be taken away from the loss.

The most obvious was the Chilton running attack. It’s difficult to stay committed to running the football when you’re behind by a sizable margin, but CCHS still was able to churn out 125 yards against a tough Wolverines defense. To be fair, the Tigers had to run the ball because the team had trouble giving quarterback Taylor Hughes enough time to throw the ball.

But the yardage the Tigers gained is still an accomplishment. The lack of a consistent rushing threat cost the Tigers in their season opening loss to Jemison, so it was encouraging to see featured back Gheryme Reed pick up 61 yards on 11 carries.

Marbury also stayed in the ranks of the winless with a 27-6 loss to Dadeville. The Bulldogs’ troubles are understandable because of the turnover from last season. No less than six players on Marbury’s 2007 roster are now playing college football. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however, as Marbury’s future features three needed ‘B’s: Beulah (0-3), BYE (has never defeated an opposing team in the history of football), and B.B. Comer (0-3).