Longhorns’ path to title round goes through Restoration

11-2-2012 — Linden, Ala. — Marengo Academy’s Hayden Huckabee (18) attempts free himself from the grasp of an Abbeville defender.

LINDEN — The Marengo Academy Longhorns (7-4) will look to continue their storybook season Friday night with a road victory over AISA Class A Region 1 winner Restoration Academy.

The Longhorns, playing with a roster that includes only one senior and four juniors, have won three games in a row on their way to the AISA semi-finals. Despite the talk his players have heard about how big their future could be, Marengo head coach Robby James said his team believes its time has already come.

“Right now we’ve got an opportunity we want to take advantage of,” James said. “I think everybody was excited about last week. But they’re all talking about this one. Not many teams have beaten these guys. But I really feel like our guys feel like we can win.”

The Longhorns’ hopes of reaching the state title round next week will rest upon how well they handle the once-beaten Bulldogs, whose only loss of the season thus far came at the hand of undefeated Tuscaloosa Academy.

“They’ve got size and speed. Speed is what makes them so good. They’re very fast,” James said of the Bulldogs. “They run a lot of different formations, a lot of different looks. They run some spread and they’ll get in there in Power I sometimes, so you have to be prepared for all of it.”

James said his team encountered two players with considerable speed last week when it faced Abbeville Christian, using the reference point to draw contrast between what the Longhorns encountered in the Generals and what they will see with the Bulldogs.

“All their backs are fast. They’ve got a big group of skill people that are pretty good,” James said. “I know our guys are going to play hard. We’re going to battle. Sometimes that makes up for speed or whatever.”

James also expects his team will see in Restoration a fair amount of the same offensive style that Abbeville employed out of its spread formation.

“They run some stuff like we saw the other night, the jet sweep and stuff like that,” James said.

The Longhorns will carry a three-game win streak into their ever meeting with Restoration. The effort over those three games rather than the results give James hope that his young Horns are growing with each passing week.

“I think we’ve put together some good games here in the last few weeks. We could probably play a little better on offense that we did last week. But I thought we did do a good job on defense. We held them pretty well,” James said. “I think we’re getting better, definitely, each week and getting more confidence.”

The winner of Friday’s contest will face the winner of Pickens Academy and Ashford in the state championship round next week.