Sweet Water eyes region crown

Sweet Water’s Brett Davis (7) passes to Caderius Ward (1).

Sweet Water is unbeaten in state-mandated competition with only one game to go in Class 2A, Region 1 and, yet, still has virtually everything left to play for Friday night.

The Bulldogs (7-1, 6-0) will head to Mobile Christian (7-1, 5-1) Friday with a chance to claim the region championship outright. However, a loss would spiral Sweet Water into a three-way tie with MCA and Washington County, leaving control of its fate elsewhere.

“This is a region championship game. It hasn’t cleared up. Fortunately for us, we control our own destiny. We are still able to depend on ourselves,” Sweet Water head coach Stacy Luker said of the importance of his team’s first ever meeting with Mobile Christian. “I don’t think we’ll win any tiebreakers. It’s a must win as far as the region championship goes.”

For Sweet Water, winning that region championship means limiting Mobile Christian’s all-state caliber running back Tyler Rogers.

“They put him in that (I formation) and they feed the ball to him. He has four games over 200 and one over 300. He’s well past the 1,000-yard mark and he has sat out a game. He’s a good one,” Luker said of Rogers. “He can do a little bit of all of it. He’s good in between the tackles. They rely on power football and a lot of downhill football, but he can make people miss.”

Rogers runs behind a quintet of road-clearing offensive linemen who adopt their physical mentality from MCA head coach Neil Evans.

“They’re big. They average 260 (pounds) across there and block real well, block physical,” Luker said of the Leopard offensive front. “Their head coach was an offensive lineman in college, so you know what his mentality is.”

Defensively, Mobile Christian will utilize a lot of the same athletes that have helped lead the offense to well beyond 200 points on the year.

“They play a lot of guys both ways. They turn that offensive line around and all play defense,” Luker said. “They’ve given up some yardage, but at the same time they are sort of bend but don’t break.”

As Luker’s team has navigated itself through Class 2A competition for the first time, the head coach with five Class 1A state titles pointed to the team’s Monday through Thursday routine as having made the greatest impact on its 2A success.

“Probably our attitude about practice. I think we’ve improved on the practice field in our approach to practice more than anything else. And, of course, that has helped us on Friday night,” Luker said of where his team has improved the most over the course of the season’s first eight games. “I think this team has learned to practice better as we have gone throughout this season.”