Gadsden City travels to No. 10 Bessemer City

Dante Rudolph and the Gadsden City Titans take on Bessemer City tonight. (Photo by Marc Golden | Gadsden Times | File)

The Gadsden City Titans aren’t ready to stop playing football.

In fact, the Titans may have just gotten comfortable as the regular season wound down and a new one starts Friday night in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs. Gasden City (5-5) looks for its first postseason win in three years when it travels to play No. 10 Bessemer City (9-1) for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

There’s an excitement no doubt.

“We expect to be playing beyond the regular season, and we’ve got a plan for that,” first-year coach Matt Scott said. “We’ve given the guys some time off throughout the season. You can’t just go out and have physical practices every day.”

Monday’s a big film day for Gadsden City, with  some weightlifting too.

“Just going out in shorts and helmets on Monday and having a walk-thru on Thursday allows them to have fresh legs going into the playoffs,” Scott said.

The plan is set up to ensure the Titans have plenty of energy for gametime along with a well-prepared mind to execute the gameplan.

That involves Gadsden City controlling what it can while also playing assignment football.

Scott said after last week’s 17-14 loss to Hewitt-Trussville the Titans wouldn’t dwell on it too long.

That meant, he explained, players concerning themselves with it just long enough to correct  the mistakes that were made.

Gadsden City’s defense was top-notch despite the loss, making big stands and also forcing two turnovers. While the Titans got flagged on some untimely penalties, the team’s biggest issue last week was with its offense.

“We just couldn’t get into a groove,” Scott acknowledged.

It happens, and better for that to occur in Week 10 than in Week 11.

The Titans have three quarterbacks at their disposal, with sophomore Ahmad DeRamus, junior Sloan Tyler and senior Jay Copeland having gotten playing time. DeRamus has been the go-to guy in the last half of the season. His ability to distribute the football has caused more than one opponent some trouble and is part of  what’s made Gadsden City harder to defend.

Opponents also know they can’t just key on DeRamus, who can make plays with his legs or arm. 

“We’ve got three running backs playing well, we’ve got two slots you’ve got to account for and you’ve got to account for our quarterback,” Scott said. 

Then there’s the added wrinkle in the offense of Dante Rudolph, who runs out of the backfield or plays slot receiver and takes the snap in the Titans’ wildcat package.

“We play him some in short yardage situations and some in our base offense,” Scott said. “That’s another dimension people have got to account for.”

Bessemer City is similar to Gadsden City in having a first-year coach. What’s more, the Purple Tigers also have multiple playmakers on offense that will keep the Titans’ on their toes.

Quarterback Marcus Key gets the Purple Tiger offense started and has a plethora of options. Senior running back Brandon Byner is a versatile athlete who also catches his share of passes and returns punts. Senior John Wilkerson, who plays defensive back and is a South Alabama commitment, also runs out of the backfield and catches passes. The running back stable also includes Stanley Woods and Fred Townsend.

In taking on the Purple Tigers, the second seed out of Region 5, Gadsden City, the third seed from Region 7, will need to get into a rhythm early. The Purple Tigers’ only loss this season was a 48-7 defeated to top-ranked Hoover. 

Gadsden City knows it can play with 6A’s best, having knocked off then-No. 2 Clay Chalkville 24-21 in Week 7.

“We’re continuing to get better offensively,” Scott said. “It’s taken three-quarters of the season to get there or about that, because it was game six or seven before we settled into the routine I’m accustomed to and want them to be in. I feel like we’re just hitting our stride and things have just smoothed out the last few weeks.”