Linden vs. Georgiana (gallery)

Linden offense gets rest in 68-0 thrashing of Choctaw County

10-27-16 -- Linden, Ala. -- Timothy Thurman lifts Johnathan Biggs in celebration as the fourth quarter starts in Thursday night's game in Linden. Linden led by a score of 68-0 going into the fourth and went on to beat Choctaw County by a final of 68-0, finishing the regular season with a 10-0 record. (WAW | Stewart Gwin)

10-27-16 — Linden, Ala. — Timothy Thurman lifts Johnathan Biggs in celebration as the fourth quarter starts in Thursday night’s game in Linden. Linden led by a score of 68-0 going into the fourth and went on to beat Choctaw County by a final of 68-0, finishing the regular season with a 10-0 record. (WAW | Stewart Gwin)

Linden could have left its offense out of the equation Thursday night as its trounced Choctaw County 68-0 to cap a 10-0 regular season. The Patriots put 14 points on the board before ever taking a snap en route to building a 61-0 lead in an unflinchingly dominant first half. By the time the second quarter came to a close, Linden had run six offensive plays and scored six offensive touchdowns.

“Wow,” Linden coach Andro Williams said when learning of the uncanny statistic. “I’ve said every week up to this point that what’s different about this team is that it’s more explosive in the special teams part and the defensive part. I think we’ve gotten in the end zone every single game. All our checks are we look for every game, we have them. We try to limit the big play on the run and the pass every game and then try to get a score on special teams and on defense. That’s what we’ve been able to do the second half of the season anyway. We’ve found ways to get in the end zone. If we continue to do that, we feel good about us moving forward.”

Dequan Charleston opened the scoring less than two minutes into the contest with a 45-yard punt return. He repeated the feat from 62 yards away less than two minutes later to stretch the lead to 14-0.

The Linden offense took the field for the first time with about five minutes left in the first quarter. The drive proved short-lived as the Pats covered 53 yards in four plays and capped the possession with a 27-yard touchdown run from Charles Blackmon.

Linden’s fifth play of the contest saw C.J. Robinson sprint 52 yards for a score with 1:00 left in the first quarter. Isaiah Scott added to the Choctaw County misery with a 23-yard interception return for touchdown, the third non-offensive touchdown of the first quarter.

Charleston got involved in the action again with 10:55 to play in the second quarter when he picked off a pass and took it 37 yards for a touchdown to push the advantage to 41-0. DeAntonio Williams later scooped up a shanked punt and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown to move the lead to 47-0.

With 4:04 left in the second quarter, Graderius Brown blocked a Tiger punt that Johnathan Biggs scooped and returned for a 5-yard touchdown and a commanding 54-0 lead. DeAntonio Williams then forced and recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, allowing the Linden offense to take the field for only the third time in the game. The drive lasted one play as Xavier McIntosh sprinted 21 yards to the end zone for the 61-0 lead.

With the starters having taken only five snaps in the first half, Andro Williams still opted to play his second unit in the third quarter. Brown made the most of the opportunity with a 10-yard touchdown run to punctuate the scoring.

“We did what we wanted to do. That was our goal. We set out to try to finish region champions and put ourselves to be undefeated region champions at the end of the year,” Andro Williams said of his team’s 10-0 mark. “That’s our goal every year. The fact that we ended up as region champions was the biggest part of it. But, again, we wanted to try to make sure we could finish undefeated. It’s a twofold thing. If we weren’t undefeated, we would still be ready to start this new season. We’re going to try to come back in here Monday and get ready for the playoffs with Houston County. That’s where we’re at.”

Linden ran only 19 offensive plays in the game and tallied 215 yards. The Tigers ran 35 plays for 46 yards. Deauris Jones paced the defense with 10 tackles including two for loss. DeAntonio Williams contributed seven tackles with three for loss to go along with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Christopher Virgess had a sack as part of a three TFL performance.

Linden (10-0) hosts Houston County Friday night in the first round of the Class 1A state playoffs.

“They, undoubtedly have a good football team. I think that region is a little bit better than what we’re thinking as a whole. We’re expecting a good football team to roll in here Friday night. I know the head coach and he has done a good job,” Andro Williams said. “They went 1-9 last year and coming back and winning six games this year and with probably an opportunity to win some of those games and be sitting as the second seed in that region instead of the four seed. We’ve got to be ready when they get here.”

Patriots clinch 1A, Region 1 title with win over Panthers

10-14-16 -- Linden, Ala. -- Linden's Dequan Charleston (7) runs past Marengo's Daryl McIntosh (28) during the Patriots' win over the Panthers.

10-14-16 — Linden, Ala. — Linden’s Dequan Charleston (7) runs past Marengo’s Daryl McIntosh (28) during the Patriots’ win over the Panthers.

It was a three-hour game of physicality Friday as the Linden Patriots hosted the Marengo High Panthers for the intra-county rivalry. The Patriots’ ability to score on offense, defense, and special teams helped lift them to a 56-22 victory as they clinched the Class 1A, Region 1 title.

The Panthers took the opening possession and drove across midfield to the Linden 42-yard line, but the Patriot defense stood strong and forced a 4th-and-3 situation. An offside call set the Panthers back five, creating a 4th-and-8 and forcing a 13-yard punt.

10-14-16 -- Linden, Ala. -- Marengo High's Quindaris Ausborne makes a leaping catch during the Panthers' game against Linden.

10-14-16 — Linden, Ala. — Marengo High’s Quindaris Ausborne makes a leaping catch during the Panthers’ game against Linden.

The Patriots took possession on their own 34-yard line and would strike first when Xavier McIntosh capped the 66-yard scoring drive on a 9-yard rush for a touchdown at the 2:04 mark in the first quarter.

C.J. Robinson would be the next Patriot to add to the board when he found the end zone on a 2-yard quarterback keeper, giving his team a 14-point lead with 8:17 to play in the second.

Facing a 4th-and-long, Davontae Poole batted down a Panther punt, and sophomore Graderius Brown scooped and scored from 34 yards out giving the Pats a 21-0 lead with 5:34 remaining in the second quarter.

The Panthers’ first trip to the end zone came at the 3:01 mark, when Calvin Ferguson punched it in from 4 yards out. The PAT failed, and the Panthers trailed by 15.

Gaining some momentum, Marengo put eight more on the board when Quidaris Ausborne picked up a Linden fumble and took it 50 yards for a touchdown. A two-point screen pass to De’Angelos Crispin made it 21-14 with 0:51 to play in the half.

A short four seconds later, Linden’s Isaiah Scott picked up the Panther onside kick attempt, taking it 55 yards for a touchdown and extending the lead to 28. At the half, Linden led, 28-14.

Linden’s deferred decision gave them the first possession of the second half, and Charles Blackmon Jr.,

10-14-16 -- Linden, Ala. -- Marengo High's De'Angelos Crispin (4) makes a catch over Linden High's Jonathan Biggs (23) during the Panthers game against the Patriots.

10-14-16 — Linden, Ala. — Marengo High’s De’Angelos Crispin (4) makes a catch over Linden High’s Jonathan Biggs (23) during the Panthers game against the Patriots.

added to the lead when he found the end zone on a 26-yard reception from C.J. Robinson. Linden opted to go for two and converted successfully, making it 36-14 at the 10:31 mark in the third.

Facing a 4th-and-long, Marengo attempted to convert but Linden’s Isaiah Scott came up with an interception, initiating the drive that would end when Blackmon again crossed the goal line, this time from 5 out, making it 43-14 with 9:39 remaining in the game.

With 6:22 to play, a mishandled Panther snap on a 4th-and-13 play gave the Patriots the ball at the Panther 21-yard line. Capitalizing on excellent field position, the Pats handed the ball off to Brown, giving him his second touchdown of the night when he hit the end zone from 12 yards out. With only 4:15 remaining in the game, Linden had a decisive lead at 50-14.

Not to be outdone, Marengo’s Ausborne took the ensuing kick 92 yards to put another six on the board, the first kickoff return for touchdown Linden has allowed this year. The Panthers’ two-point conversion was successful, making it 50-22 with 3:58 to go.

On their final possession of the night, the Patriots’ Scott took a 12-yard trek through enemy territory, shaking off two Panthers and stiff-arming another en route to the final touchdown of the night. A failed PAT made the final 56-22.

“We’ve just got to be more focused and not make the bonehead mistakes we made tonight,” said Marengo head coach Eberne Myrthil. “Those mistakes that we made tonight are the things that a good football team like Linden will capitalize on.”

The Patriots put up 399 yards of total offense to Marengo’s 194. While Linden found its success on the ground with 38 rushes for 289 yards, the Panthers’ success came through the air as they racked up 128 yards completing 7 of 14 attempts.

Eric Jenkins led the Patriot offensive with three carries for 87 yards, followed by Xavier McIntosh who brought in 12 carries for 75 yards.

“We find a way to score in our specialty game every week,” said Patriots head coach Andro Williams. “We scored in all three phases of the game, and that’s what we talked about all week. Moving forward, when we get in those games where it’s locked up scoreless, that gives us a weapon so we can find a way to score.”

Linden (8-0, 6-0) goes on to face J.F. Shields next Friday, while Marengo (5-3, 4-2) will host McIntosh.

10-14-16 -- Linden, Ala. -- Linden's Charles Blackmon, Jr. (6) makes a cut to elude a Marengo defender during the Patriots' game against the Panthers.

10-14-16 — Linden, Ala. — Linden’s Charles Blackmon, Jr. (6) makes a cut to elude a Marengo defender during the Patriots’ game against the Panthers.

Linden vs. Millry (gallery)

Patriots use second half to come from behind, beat McKenzie

11-7-15 -- Linden QB Christopher Robinson (3) runs the ball in Friday's game against McKenzie. Linden came from behind to win, 38-28. (WAW | Stewart Gwin)

11-7-15 — Linden QB Christopher Robinson (3) runs the ball in Friday’s game against McKenzie. Linden came from behind to win, 38-28. (WAW | Stewart Gwin)

LINDEN—The Linden Patriots put together a second half rally to come from behind and send the McKenzie Tigers packing Friday night in the first round of AHSAA playoffs in Linden, Ala.

“I don’t like that kind of football,” Patriot head coach Andro Williams said of his team’s lackluster first half.

“We played sloppy, our intensity wasn’t what it needed to be, and our focus wasn’t where it needed to be, but we got the win,” said Williams.

McKenzie went up by eight in the first quarter and went on to lead the majority of the game, but the third quarter saw the Patriots outlast the tired Tiger team.

At the half, McKenzie led Linden 16-13.

McKenzie opened the second half and used half of the quarter to drive down to the Patriots 33-yard line, where McKenzie’s JarMarrie Womack fumbled and Linden recovered. Linden put together an impressive and time-consuming drive to get down to the 3-yard line, where Charles Blackmon crossed the goal line, giving his Patriot team the lead—their first of the night— with a score of 19-16.

McKenzie was quick to answer when Robert Shufford took the next play from scrimmage 52 yards, allowing the Tigers to reclaim the lead a mere 21 seconds after the Patriots took control. With 0:33 remaining in the third, McKenzie led 22-19.

As the third period expired, the Patriots hit the gas and never looked back. Dequan Charleston reeled in a 23-yard pass from Christopher Robinson that was good for six. With a failed PAT attempt, Linden led 25-22.

With 7:39 to go in the game, Labrandon Williams took it in from 26 yards out. A successful PAT put extended Linden’s lead to 32-22.

McKenzie went four-and-out at their own 25, allowing Linden excellent field position for a Robinson pass to Charleston, making it 38-22.

On the next possession, the Tigers appeared to be pinned back deep after the Patriots managed a sack 15 yards behind the original line of scrimmage, but Shufford again displayed his running abilities as he hauled it 95 yards on a second and 25 play. The two-point conversion failed and McKenzie brought it back to a 10-point game, 38-28, with 4:32 to play.

In their next to last possession of the game, the Patriots had a scare as Labrandon Williams lost a fumble at the McKenzie 40-yard line. On the following play, Linden’s Charles Blackmon took the ball back as he intercepted a pass from McKenzie’s William Brown. That would be all the Patriots needed as they ran the remaining 1:20 off the clock, sealing the 38-28 victory and moving on to round two.

Blackmon led the Patriots on the ground with 15 touches for 57 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Charleston had 115 yards receiving with two touchdowns, and Robinson went 8 of 12 for 129 yards and three touchdowns.

Linden put together a total of 469 yards of offense on the night, most of which came late in the game, while McKenzie had 279 yards. Linden had 21 first downs to McKenzie’s four.

“McKenzie came in and expected to win. They’re a great team and they played their hearts out,” said Andro Williams. “But we can’t come out here and not be focused like we did tonight. I’m proud of our guys for fighting through and getting the win, but we’ve got to get better.”

Linden will travel to Notasulga next week for the second round of playoffs.

 

 

Remembering Anthony Robinson

Anthony Robinson with Linden coach Andro Williams on National Signing Day 2013.

Anthony Robinson with Linden coach Andro Williams on National Signing Day 2013.

Anthony Robinson during an ESPN 104.9 National Signing Day radio show at Batter Up in February.

Anthony Robinson during an ESPN 104.9 National Signing Day radio show at Batter Up in February.

Sunday evening proved a very tragic day in Marengo County as two of its young people were killed in a car accident.

I did not know C.J. Boykin, so it would be impossible for me to speak knowledgeably of him. But I can say that the outpouring of grief from his teachers, classmates and others who knew him clearly indicates that he was a well-liked young man even at the tender age of 12.

Anthony Robinson Jr., on the other hand, I knew well. A former member of the Linden High Patriot football team, Robinson was a three-time selection on the Alabama Sports Writers Association All-State Team. He was a four-year starter at quarterback and defensive back (two at corner and two at safety) for Linden.

He was the 2012 West Alabama Watchman Player of the Year for its inaugural All-County Football Team. And he was a 2013 signee with the University of West Alabama where he played cornerback for the Tigers.

Linden quarterback Anthony Robinson looks to pass during the Patriots 39-13 win over the Leroy Bears in 2012.  (Photo courtesy of Laura Delegal)

Linden quarterback Anthony Robinson looks to pass during the Patriots 39-13 win over the Leroy Bears in 2012. (Photo courtesy of Laura Delegal)

He was also the point guard of the Linden High basketball team where he played varsity all four years of his high school career.

That is Robinson. Those are the accolades that point so glowingly toward what kind of athlete Anthony Robinson Jr. was.

But those things do little to tell you of who Anthony Robinson Jr. really was. Anthony Robinson Jr. was electric. It was not his athletic ability or the way he shook defenders. It was his smile and the way he greeted other people.

For the five years that I interacted with Anthony Robinson while covering his athletic teams, I found him to be the rare individual that owned every room he entered. He was not so much loud or boisterous, but he had the kind of presence to which other young people gravitate.

By his junior year, Anthony was the unquestioned leader of the Linden football team. He set the tempo. He demanded more from his teammates. And he always led by example.

Linden head coach Andro Williams always knew, especially in the latter years of Robinson’s career, that his team would “go as Anthony Robinson goes.” But that personality trait transcended athletics. Anthony Robinson was never a follower. He was always the kind of person that would dictate the tempo of his life.

He scarcely met a stranger and had a smile that he was incapable of withholding from the world. In my experience, most teenage boys are reluctant to smile for pictures, staring into the camera with an expression of apathy as they try to look “hard” or “tough” or whatever other adjective that has made its way into the adolescent vernacular to describe such occasions.

Anthony RobinsonBut Anthony Robinson could not do that. He never looked “hard” or “tough.” He looked like he loved life. And he almost always appeared happy to be wherever he was at that particular moment.

An athlete, a son, a cousin, a competitor, a winner, a student, a role model, a friend, Anthony Robinson played all of his roles to the best of his ability and did it all with a magnetic smile that let the world in.

And the events of Sunday are so surprising, so dumbfounding, so frustratingly heart-wrenching because the world only has so many Anthony Robinsons and now we have one less.

 

2013 Signing Day-5722

Anthony Robinson of Linden High School receives a commemorative plaque and T-shirt from Jeremy D. Smith.  Robinson was selected as the first recipient of the West Alabama Watchman All-County Team's Player of the Year award.

Anthony Robinson of Linden High School receives a commemorative plaque and T-shirt from Jeremy D. Smith. Robinson was selected as the first recipient of the West Alabama Watchman All-County Team’s Player of the Year award.

Five county teams in action Friday

(Photo by Johnny Autery) Sweet Water's Daniel Sewell pops Demopolis' Ryan Schroeder on a pass play during last week's Jamboree game between the two county teams.

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
Sweet Water’s Daniel Sewell pops Demopolis’ Ryan Schroeder on a pass play during last week’s Jamboree game between the two county teams.

Two Marengo County teams got their seasons going Thursday night as Marengo Academy downed South Choctaw 34-6 and Marengo High fell 32-20 to Southern Choctaw.

For the remaining five county schools, kickoff of the 2013 season is only hours away. Here is a quick glance at what you need to know to get you ready for tonight’s local high school football action.

A.L. Johnson @ R.C. Hatch

The Eagles have not lost t o R.C. Hatch since 1991 and pulled out last year’s contest by a narrow 22-18 margin.

While their 2013 roster does not consist a lot of players, the Eagles have no shortage of talent as they enter 2013 with high expectations. But psyche matters in sport and opening the season with a loss to rival Hatch would be damaging for ALJ.

Look for the Johnson offensive line to keep the Eagles’ hopes intact as it paves the way for the ALJ ground game to put Johnson’s record at 1-0.

John Essex @ Sunshine

Never has kickoff been more welcome for any team than it will be for John Essex in week one. The Hornets have seen a tumultuous run since they last took the field Oct. 12, 2012. The team was outscored 144-14 in its last four contests of 2012 before the wheels completely came off and the team was unable to finish the season.

The Hornets have seen plenty of transition from an administrative perspective as they have welcomed a new coach and a new principal. And the summer was spent with the program’s future constantly in question.

Regardless of the outcome, Friday night will be good for Essex. The 13 players that make up the Hornet roster will finally be able to put 2012 in the rearview and move on.

Sunshine brings a certain degree of familiarity for JEHS as the schools have met every season since 1984. The Hornets have won four in a row against the Sunshine Tigers and would like little better than to open Keonn Nettles’ coaching career with a W over their traditional rival.

Linden vs. Leroy

This is a sneaky compelling contest between two traditionally physical football teams. Leroy went into rebuilding mode after the loss of long-time head coach Danny Powell to nearby Jackson High. And last year’s 39-13 home stinging at the hands of Linden surely has not been forgotten.

As such, Linden coach Andro Williams is not expecting another route. His Patriots are being groomed to focus on each series, each quarter, each contest. Doing just that will be a key ingredient to toppling Leroy.

This contest also marks the starting QB debut of Dewayne Charleston. He is the first signal-caller not named Anthony Robinson to start for Linden since 2008.

(Photo by Johnny Autery) Tyler Oates looks to pass during last week's Jamboree contest against Sweet Water.

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
Tyler Oates looks to pass during last week’s Jamboree contest against Sweet Water.

Sweet Water vs. Thomasville

They don’t get much nastier or more physical than Sweet Water and Thomasville. Nearby rivals, the schools have clashed every season since 1983 with Thomasville’s reign of dominance only briefly interrupted on rare occasions.

In the three-decade span since the rivalry renewed, Sweet Water has only managed to beat their neighbors to the south four times. Two of those occasions came in back-to-back seasons under head coach Stacy Luker in 2007 and 2008. Since then, however, Thomasville has won all four meetings.

Sweet Water enters the latest round with a new starting quarterback, a reconfigured offensive line and a defensive group that has the potential for the same standout performances that have made SWHS a perennial power in recent years.

But Thomasville comes equipped with a stout offensive line, an athletic quarterback, multiple ball carriers capable of breaking a game wide open and a high-powered, ground-based offense that will challenge the SWHS front like few others can.

In short, this one will be a good, old-fashioned football game.

Demopolis vs. American Christian Academy

Call it the Causey Bowl if you like, but the best story lines in this contest don’t involve the siblings who will oppose each other as head coaches.

Sure, ACA and head coach John Causey remember that 49-7 blistering that Tom Causey’s Demopolis Tigers put on them a season ago. But the team also remembers that it finished 4-6 a season ago and one of those victories actually came via forfeit.

ACA is looking to return to its championship form and ruining Demopolis’ season-opener is exactly how the Patriots would like to start that quest.

On the other side, Tyler Oates finally steps into the starting gig after seeing significant snaps at quarterback in each of the last two seasons. He will be working behind a new-look offensive line that will be faced with creating space for the Tigers’ plethora of skill players.

On the other side of the ball, DHS is employing a new 4-2-5 defense that has already seen three significant contributors suffer injuries late in the offseason. That gives rise to opportunity for a handful of reserve players.

But the biggest thing for the Tigers is the hump. Since winning the Class 5A state title in 2009, Demopolis has not made it out of the second round of the playoffs. And ACA is the first stop in a road the Tigers hopes leads them back to Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.