Hubbard the difference maker for Jemison

Published 9:14 pm Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hosting on Nov. 5, the first week of the playoffs, would be a step that could propel Jemison into the second round of the Class 4A state playoffs.

Whether the Panthers get to play at home on Nov. 5 will depend on whether they can defeat Greene County on Friday.

“You definitely tell the kids what’s at stake every week,” said coach Brad Abbott. “This week is no different. If we win, we’ve got home field. If we lose, we don’t.”

Jemison (5-3, 4-2 Region 4) finds itself in this situation mostly because of a dynamic offense.

Junior running back Javae Swindle, reigning The Clanton Advertiser Player of the Year, has rushed for 1,508 yards and 18 touchdowns at an average of 11.5 yards per carry. Senior quarterback Scott Clements, despite missing two games with a knee injury, has completed better than 60 percent of his passes for more than 1,000 yards and 14 scores.

But the most significant difference between this Panthers team and those of years past has been the offensive balance resulting from the play of receiver Eddie Hubbard.

“I don’t know if we’ve had a person (in Chilton County) for a while in that position that can dominate a game,” Abbott said, and Hubbard has dominated games.

The junior averages five catches for more than 100 yards per game, and that doesn’t tell the whole story. Hubbard makes a difference as a blocker, and Abbott said one of the reasons behind his success is that he runs his route full speed on each play.

This from someone that began playing receiver at Jemison only midway through last season.

“We knew he had the ability, but it’s different when you’re in practice and then when you’re out there in the game,” Abbott said. “The first couple of games, you could hear people say, ‘Who’s No. 2?’

“After about the fourth game, you start seeing teams scheme, putting there best cover guy on him. That’s the most impressive thing, is that he’s still getting all those numbers.”

Jemison will need Hubbard to be at his best against Greene County (6-2, 5-1), who Abbott said is stingy on defense.

“I think it’s going to come down to who wants to play at home more,” the coach said. “‘They’re an all-around a sound football team, and it’s going to take a great effort.”

Who will win?

Jemison coach Brad Abbott said his team was disappointed with its performance in last week’s loss at Livingston. That will be motivation this week—as if the chance to host a first-round playoff game weren’t enough. Look for the Panthers best performance of the season.

Pick: Jemison | Picks record: 34-9

Also Friday night

Central-Hayneville (0-7, 0-6 region) at Billingsley (2-6, 2-4)

Billingsley is a tired team that needs nothing more than the offseason to recover and prepare for Year 2 under coach Joe Nettles. The Bears have at least one more win still in them, though. Pick: Billingsley

Chilton Co. (3-5, 2-4) at Central-Tuscaloosa (0-8, 0-6)

Chilton County won’t be going to the playoffs, but, with a win last week and two winnable games left, the Tigers can end the season on winning streak, building momentum for 2011. Pick: Chilton Co.

Isabella (4-4, 2-4) at Francis Marion (4-4, 3-3)

Coach Scott Booth’s Notre Dame Box offense got rolling last week, lighting up the scoreboard with 75 points. Don’t look for the Mustangs to slow down this week. Pick: Isabella

Sunshine (1-7, 1-5) at No. 2 Maplesville (8-0, 6-0)

Coming off its best performance of the season, one might think there’s a chance of a Maplesville let down this week. Wouldn’t count on it. Pick: Maplesville

Thorsby (7-1, 5-1) at R.C. Hatch (2-6, 1-5)

Thorsby needs either a win over R.C. Hatch or a Vincent loss to American Christian to host the first round of the playoffs. The Rebels will take matters into their own hands. Pick: Thorsby

Verbena (2-6, 2-4) at Winterboro (5-3, 3-3)

A Verbena team that didn’t have much depth at the beginning of the season has even less thanks to some recent injuries. The Red Devils will find the going tough at Winterboro. Pick: Winterboro