There are a couple of things I want to mention right off before I get into the topic of this week’s column.
First, congratulations are in order for the Russell County High football team. The Warriors got their first win of the 2018 season last Friday night at home while celebrating Homecoming. The Warriors defeated Sidney Lanier High 34-31.
Why is this important? Well, these kids have battled all season for what they earned last Friday night. When you look at the odds they faced entering the season – not to mention last week’s game alone – you can easily understand why it is important. The Warriors are playing in Class 6A which is about three classifications higher than they should be playing. Yes, the school’s enrollment numbers require it to play 6A, but when it comes to the number of athletes available for participation the Warriors are out of classification.
The Warriors have about 38 kids on its football team and are playing teams with 60 or more players each week. That was the case last week.
With those numbers being so out of balance, Russell County has to have kid play both ways – on offense and on defense. That is not the norm at this level of high school football. Because kids have to play both ways, as their coach Dwight Jones has noted, they tend to get tired and make mental mistakes. This mostly happens in the second half of games. The Warriors stayed off those mental errors last week and put together a game-winning drive in the final six minutes of the fourth quarter.
Jones told his kids they needed to drive for a winning touchdown and eat away as much of the game clock as possible. They did that – even as they battled fatigue. They even made a crucial fourth down play near midfield to keep the winning drive going. And when the touchdown was scored, there were only 12 seconds remaining to be played. So, congratulations are certainly in order for the Warriors. Hopefully, it will not be the last time this season the Warriors get to feel the elation of victory.
Another thing I want to mention is Tua Tagovailoa’s ridiculous offensive numbers posted through six games. The Alabama sophomore has a quarterback rating of 258.7, has completed 75.2 percent of his passes, thrown 20 touchdowns which is only five fewer than the number of incomplete passes he has thrown, he has led Alabama to touchdowns on each if its six opening drives this season and in 44 drives this season he has led Alabama to 31 touchdowns. Oh, and he is the leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy. Hard to argue with his numbers so far. However, none of those numbers mean a thing to Alabama coach Nick Saban if the Crimson Tide does not win this season’s National Championship.
Trivia questions are a lot of fun and often challenging to your knowledge. Here are a few to challenge your knowledge of college football:
1. This game was initially played in 1894 and became known as the “Civil War” in 1929. In 1959, the Platypus Trophy was created for the game. Name the two teams that play for the Platypus Trophy?
2. The SEC was created in 1932 when 13 teams left what conference?
3. Which team won the first National Championship designated by the AP poll?
4. Who was the first player to be named a unanimous, consensus All-American?
5. Who were the last two teams to drop out of the SEC in the 20th century?
6. Who was the first player to ever win the Heisman, the Maxwell, the O’Brien, and become the first overall pick in the NFL draft?
7. How many SEC teams won the National Championship in the 1990s?
8. Between 1988 and 1993, how many times did Notre Dame finish in the top four of the AP poll?
9. What is the most played rivalry in the nation, playing a total 141 times since 1884?’
10. Which two teams play in, “The Game”?
Answers: 1. Oregon vs. Oregon State 2. Southern Conference 3. Minnesota 4. Herschel Walker 5. Georgia Tech and Tulane 6. Vinny Testaverde 7. Three (Alabama, Florida and Tennessee) 8. Four 9. Lehigh vs. Lafayette 10. Harvard and Yale.
Mark Clark is a local sports writer for The Citizen of East Alabama.