By Mark Clark
This one was the best one yet. It was a very personal victory for Central coach Jamey DuBose – a 49-6 victory over his former team, the Prattville Lions. There is no game on the Red Devils’ schedule each season that the Central coach would rather win than the one against Prattville.
DuBose won two state championships as a head coach with the Lions and was an assistant for two more state titles there. His two sons still attend the school. Several of the coaches on the Lions’ sideline are former assistants to DuBose. And several coaches on his sideline were players or coaches when DuBose was there.
Yes, it was very personal to DuBose and his team.
Before DuBose took over the Red Devils program, Central was 0-5 against the Lions. Since then, the Red Devils have beaten the Lions five out of the last six times they have faced each other.
Central entered last Friday’s game at 3-0 and ranked No. 2 in Class 7A. Prattville entered at 2-0 – its first 2-0 start since 2015 – and was unranked. And while Prattville was letting the state know the Lions had restored their roar, the Red Devils let them know it had not been restored yet.
“I told the kids to come out fast and get on the board. I told them not to let them hang around. I think we did that tonight. We played really good. Prattville came in tonight thinking it was ready for the big time. It wasn’t. I told the kids to go out and have a fast start. We hadn’t done that so far this season. Tonight we did. We did not want Prattville to get the idea they were even in this game at all,” DuBose said he told his team.
The Red Devils heeded their coach’s directions and silenced the Lions’ roar from the start. Central’s defense set the game’s tone with the Lions’ opening possession, stopping Prattville for minus-2 yards in three plays. Central took over at its 45-yard-line and immediately let the Lions know what was in store for the night – a heavy dose of A’Montae Spivey. The Arkansas commit ripped off a 28-yard run to start the drive. He ran for 41 of the 55 yards along the way to the end zone. Central quarterback and LSU commit Peter Parrish ran in for the first touchdown on a 14-yard scamper with 9:00 on the first quarter clock. With Noah Pell’s extra-point kick, Central led 7-0.
Central’s defense held on to the 7-0 lead over the next two Prattville possessions which gained five total yards and two more punts. The second of the two punts went 29 yards and gave the Red Devils’ offense the ball at the Lions’ 38. Six plays later, Spivey ran in from 15 yards to make the score 14-0.
After getting its initial first down of the game with its fourth possession, the Lions offense again sputtered under pressure from the Central defense and was forced to punt for the fourth time after losing seven yards. Central took over at its 30-yard-line and quickly added points to its total with a 70-yard touchdown pass on the first offensive play of the second quarter from Tucker Melton to Peter Jakes. Central led 21-0. And then, it got worse for the Lions.
Central took over at its 46 on its next possession and took three plays to score again. Spivey ran 49 yards for the touchdown with 8:49 left in the first half. Central led 28-0.
Spivey had 10 carries for 114 yards and two touchdowns at that point. He ran the ball just once more on the Red Devils’ final possession of the half for four more yards and then sat the rest of the night.
Central went 53 yards in seven plays to up its margin to 35-0 when Joseph McKay scored on a three-yard run with 2:19 left in the half.
On the ensuing kickoff, Central attempted a pooch kick to prevent a return, but the kick turned into an onsides kick as the ball never lifted. Central’s Marquez Henry recovered the ball and Central’s offense returned to the field for a final scoring drive before the halftime intermission.
Taking over at the Prattville 42, Central took two plays to increase its lead to 42-0 with a 33-yard pass from Melton to EJ Williams with 1:04 left in the half.
At the break, Central’s defense had dominated Prattville’s offense, allowing only 33 total yards – all through the air on three passes. The Lions ran 19 times for no yards in the half.
“Our offense had a great night. A’Montae had a big night. I think that is the most carries he’s had all season and his first game over 100 yards. But, I don’t want to just talk about our offense because our defense had a fantastic night as well. I think they barely had a 100 yards total in the game. It would not be fair to try to name any names right now without watching the film, but I know a lot of defensive players performed well,” DuBose said.
Central scored its final points of the evening with its initial possession of the second half. Central took over at their 20 to begin the half, but moved back 10 yards with back-to-back motion penalties. But, it still only took seven plays for the Red Devils to reach the end zone. McKay capped the drive with a 10-yard run for his second touchdown of the night with 8:50 left in the third quarter. Central led 49-0 and sent in a hoard of substitute players to finish the contest against a running clock in the second half. Central’s three previous games had been played with a running clock in the fourth quarter.
Prattville scored a late TD to make the final score 49-6.
Central’s offense rolled up 399 total yards – 197 rushing on 24 attempts and 202 passing yards. Prattville was held to 131 total yards – 61 rushing yards on 34 attempts and 70 passing yards.
Melton was 2-of-2 passing for 103 yards with two touchdowns. Parrish was 4-of-7 passing for 89 yards. He also ran five times for 38 yards with a touchdown. Spivey finished with 11 carries for 118 yards and two TDs. McKay ran 10 times for 40 yards with two TDs. Jakes had one catch of 70 yards for a TD. Williams caught three passes for 99 yards with a TD.
“This game is over,” DuBose told his team after its fourth victory of the season. “Do not look back on this one. Remember what I’ve said all along. ‘keep climbing that ladder.’ Take it one step up at a time. We have to get ready to play Opelika next. We want to win East Alabama. We already beat Smiths Station. We want to beat Opelika and Auburn when we get there. If we can win East Alabama, we can win a title.”
The game at Bulldog Stadium tomorrow night kicks off at 8 p.m. ET in Opelika.