Sweet Water faces stiff test Friday

Stacy Luker knows his team has a tall order Friday night as it tries to limit Aliceville halfback Jeremy McMullen. A 5-11, 255-pound sophomore, McMullen bulldozed Aliceville into the second round of the AHSAA Class 2A playoffs last week when he rushed for 327 yards and five touchdowns on five carries in a 42-25 win over Elba.

“He’s darn good. He’s 5-11, 255 and he gets downhill in a hurry. We’ve got to rally to him. We’ve got to get a lot of helmets to him,” Luker, the Sweet Water head coach, said. “You’re not just going to knock him off his feet, so we’ve got to make sure we’re bringing hat in hand with us. I think the key is getting a lot of people to the ball.”

Aliceville enters the contest at 7-4, having scored 160 points in its last three games. The Yellow Jacket offense could provide a formidable test for a Bulldog team that prides itself on defense.

“We’ve been pretty consistent defensively. That six-minute stretch against T.R. Miller, we didn’t play real well. But I think that had a lot to do with them,” Luker said. “(Aliceville has) got a lot of speed and a lot of skill on offense. They’re big and physical on defense. They’ve got a real good defensive line and linebacking corps. They’re explosive. They’re averaging 49 points a game over the last five games. Them being so confident as a team is going to be hard for us.”

The matchup will mark the first time Sweet Water has faced Aliceville since 1983. Given the unfamiliarity between the Bulldogs and their 2A foes, Sweet Water – a perennial power when it was in the 1A ranks – has ratcheted up the intensity in preparation for each game.

“On Tuesday, we had probably the most physical playoff practice we’ve had in a while. We really got after it out there,” Luker said. “I didn’t put a charge to them or anything before practice. I think they’re feeling, maybe, a sense of urgency and know how good these teams we’re playing are. We’re expecting a good physical game Friday night. We just need to go be who we are. We’re a running football team that tries to play pretty good defense.”