Devils ‘D’ doesn’t give up much

Published 6:10 pm Wednesday, November 3, 2010

For a team like Maplesville, with hopes of practicing on Thanksgiving and playing football at Auburn University’s Jordan-Hare Stadium during the first week of December, the first 10 games of the season are almost a warm up.

“There’s a little more sense of urgency now, a little more meaning to stepping out there on the practice field,” Maplesville coach Brent Hubbert said about his team preparing for its first-round playoff match-up with Notasulga on Friday.

Though it has scored plenty of points—an average of 49 per game, to be exact—the most important reason the No. 1 Red Devils (10-0) have been able to breeze through the regular season might be their ability to keep the other team from scoring.

MHS has shut out eight of its 10 opponents this season but will be tested by a Notasulga (5-5) team with a number of playmakers.

Sophomore quarterback Cedarius Alexander and receivers Bishop Burnett, a sophomore, and Kareen Sullen, a senior, all measure in at about 6’2”, weigh from 170 to 200 pounds and can all make plays with the football in their hands.

Then there are running backs Rakeem Scott, a junior, and Marlon Page, sophomore, two players Hubbert said might be the fastest his team has played against all year.

Hubbert said it will be important for the Maplesville defense to run to the football and gang tackle.

Much of that responsibility will fall on the four MHS linebackers, a unit whose improvement has been crucial to the defense’s success.

Outside linebackers Anthony Johnson, a sophomore, and Edwin Pettiway, a senior, have been better in pass coverage, Hubbert said, while inside ’backers Casey Atchison and James Madsen, both seniors, have flowed to the football better.

But the linebackers’ play depends on the front four tying up blockers and the defensive backs covering receivers and so forth.

“It’s pretty much been all 11 guys out there realizing that doing their job makes everyone else better and makes our defense keep people out of the end zone,” Hubbert said.

That kind of play also makes the home crowd happy. Stout defense, after all, is a Devils tradition.

“A staple of Maplesville football that I can remember is tough, aggressive defense,” Hubbert said. “That’s something we try to pride ourselves on. You get eight shutouts out of 10, you’re doing something right.

“They get mad about first downs.”