County High Controls Bryant In Opener
High school football returned in Alabama tonight but in the spirit of 2020 it was not a smooth arrival. 30 minutes before kickoff between the Paul W. Bryant Stampede and the Tuscaloosa County High School Wildcats mother nature intervened. After a two hour lightening delay, the teams emerged from the locker room and fired up the season.
The game was controlled from start to finish by Jay Todd's Wildcats thanks to an effective running game and capitalizing on timely turnovers. Star County High running back Damien Taylor rushed three touchdowns to give the Wildcats a 21-0 halftime lead. Taylor busted a 46-yard run on his final carry of the evening to put a stamp on an impressive week one performance, he rushed for 150 yards on the evening.
Wildcats quarterbacks Brax Garrison and Connor White each tallied a second half rushing touchdown by way of goal line sneaks to account for County High's final two scores.
"It was just so good to come out here and get to play finally, these kids were just flying around and having a good time, it was just so fun to watch and fun to be a part of. Listen, we did some good things, we won 35-0 but there's some things we've gotta clean up and that'll be the focus during the week," said Coach Todd.
County High took advantage of five turnovers in the game to preserve the shutout and set the offense up with beneficial scoring position. Darrius Williams and Zamar Ellis each came away with interceptions, Trey Norris and Christian Davis each recovered fumbles, County High also capitalized on a poor long snap on a third quarter fourth down setting the offense up at the 1-yard line.
After each turnover County High would celebrate by toting around a Chucky Doll.
"The Chucky Doll became a thing at practice one day, it was just a sentimental thing for the defense so we just brought it in and it's gonna be our turnover doll. Just to have a little motivation so every time we bring out the Chucky Doll it's just a great feeling right there," said defensive back Darrius Williams.
Bryant was stymied offensively for most of the evening but found a spark when Tobias Burrell took snaps at quarterback, Burrell contributed 45 yards rushing, 26 yards passing on the final two drives for the Stampede. Sophomore Jordan Louie amassed 71 yards rushing and looked to be leading Bryant to its first score of the season, however Louie fumbled on the goal line costing the Stampede its best scoring opportunity.
Coach Eldrick Hill attributed his team's performance to preparation prior to the game.
"I didn't have them prepared well enough," said Coach Hill, but he refused to use the lightening delay as an excuse.
"That wasn't the problem, more so the problem was the two weeks we got started late and the two weeks we had to quarantine so if you got June and July, we basically just had one month to prepare and I need to do a better job of getting the kids prepared," said Hill.
Next week Bryant will return home and try to get into the win column against 6A foe Minor.
Next week County High will go on the road to face rival Hillcrest and fans could be heard in the third quarter chanting, "we want Hillcrest!". When asked about the fan's request, Coach Todd responded, "they ain't lying."