Etowah, Glencoe seek momentum heading into playoffs
Wed. October 31, 2012 at 10:51 p.m. | By J.J. Hicks Staff Writer
Sam McCorkle and Etowah close out the high school football regular season Thursday night on the road against Glencoe. (Photo by Marc Golden | Gadsden Times | File)
Both Glencoe and Etowah take the field Thursday night knowing that it will not be the last time they play this season.
The Blue Devils will host either Hartselle, Russellville or Cullman in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs. The Yellow Jackets will go on the road in the opening round in 3A, at No. 9 Geraldine.
With each team’s hopes of continuing the season beyond Week 10 having been fulfilled, tonight’s tilt offers a chance for both teams to build on the season they have put together thus far.
“Going into the playoffs, you want to continue to improve and you want to have momentum,” Etowah coach Sam McCorkle said. “We’ve talked to our players about getting better every week. I think they’ve done a pretty good job of that. It’s important that you improve. We want to have some momentum going into the playoffs from this game.”
Etowah is 7-2 on the season and finished as the runner-up in Region 7 to undefeated and third-ranked Fort Payne. The Blue Devils’ only losses came to the Wildcats and in Week 8 against Southside, where Etowah only trailed for the final 16 seconds of the contest. The Blue Devils rallied in Week 9 to get a road win over Boaz. If Etowah had lost, it would not have been in the playoffs.
“I was really proud of our team,” McCorkle said. “I think the thing that showed the character of our team and how important it was to them was that Boaz scored with 2 seconds left in the first half and got momentum heading into the half and we had to kick off to them in the second half, which was a great opportunity for Boaz to do some things. But we got a turnover, drove it down and scored and then got another turnover, Zac Gamblin picked up a fumble and ran it in for a score. In that second half, we played as well as we’ve played all year.”
Glencoe sits at 4-5 overall, but it finished 4-3 in Region 5. The Yellow Jackets finished as the No. 4 seed as a result of a 41-21 win over Ashville last week. Glencoe was comfortably in even if it had lost to the Bulldogs, as the fifth-place team, Weaver, fell to Piedmont 55-3 to finish 3-4 in region play and did not have the tiebreaker over the Yellow Jackets regardless.
The Yellow Jackets have relied upon a balanced attack this season. First-year starting quarterback Hunter Nunnally has had some ups and downs, but 1,075 yards passing and 10 touchdowns as a sophomore are nothing to sneeze at and point toward a bright future. Thomas Ozmint also is a sophomore and the team’s leading rusher with 832 yards on 162 carries.
Daniel Otwell has been a threat as a runner and receiver this season. He has 312 yards rushing with five scores and 363 yards receiving and three touchdowns. Austin Hancock and Daylon Freeman have caught 24 and 20 passes, respectively.
Mason Brown leads Glencoe with 86 tackles on the season. He has 14 tackles for loss, including 61⁄2 sacks, and a pair of covered fumbles.
Blake Christian has also been very productive this year, with 101⁄2 sacks and 48.5 tackles. Dalton Gowens, who has 51⁄2 sacks, gives the Yellow Jackets another pass-rushing threat.
“We’re playing a very good team,” McCorkle said. “I think they have one of the best coaches around (in Lee Ozmint). He’s an old school, hard-nosed coach and I’ve always felt that teams are extensions of their coaches. We know that Glencoe is going to be a tough battle for us.”
Etowah has plenty of playmakers. Devin Horton is one of the most dangerous all-purpose athletes in the area. He has 737 yards rushing with 11 scores, 239 yards receiving and a pair of touchdowns, two punt returns for scores and he is the team’s primary kicker.
Tyler Bishop quietly has put together a very solid year at quarterback. He has thrown for 1,409 yards and 14 touchdowns to just five interceptions. He has spread the wealth around, with six players having at least 145 yards receiving on the season.
Paul Ruiz is averaging more than 10 yards per carry on just 34 rushes to go with a kickoff return for a score. Dominick Pinson has 314 yards rushing and 253 yards receiving. Dakota Parrish leads the team with 22 catches for 341 yards.
Jay Duckett has nabbed eight interceptions on the year, making teams think twice before they put the ball in the air. Dylan Tucker’s 88 tackles pace the Blue Devils. Cedric Childs has seven sacks, while Coby Bryant, Jacob Shull and Gamblin have totalled five sacks to give Etowah numerous players who can get to the passer, similar to the Yellow Jacket defense.