NOTEBOOK: Bibb County surges after opening loss to Greensboro
Thu. September 20, 2012 at 1:00 a.m. | By Andrew Carroll
An opening loss doesn’t necessarily break a football season.
And two wins don’t make a season, but the Bibb County Choctaws seem to be surging after losing their first game to Greensboro.
The Bibb County players are used to winning. Mike Battles directed the Choctaws to a 46-6 record in the last four seasons. Bibb County won 12 straight games in 2011 before falling in the third round of the playoffs. Battles left for Tallassee, and Shawn Sutton took over and led the team through spring training. Sutton decided to return to Georgia, and Mike McCombs got the job.
Bibb County got its first win by beating Carbon Hill 48-7 on Sept. 7 in a Class 4A, Region 4 game. The Choctaws sustained the momentum last week with a 59-13 win over Oak Grove.
In the opener, Greensboro won 44-40 as Tyrez McCain caught a 66-yard touchdown pass from Quante Brown. Even though it was a loss, Bibb County gave a glimpse of what was to come. Quarterback TJ Lockett rushed for 287 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Adam Gaddis rushed for 174 yards and three touchdowns and scored on an 83-yard kickoff return.
"Everyone was disappointed, but realistically it kind of turned into a blessing in disguise," said McCombs, who wanted to pick up the tempo with a no-huddle offense. "We want to set a standard and be the best we can possibly be. They were used to a very physical style of play, but I think the tempo was really the difference in what we do. We were having to get after our kids really hard in practice to get the pace and level of efficiency we wanted to play at.
"We ran into a buzz saw in that first game. Greensboro’s got a lot of really quality athletes. They hit us in some spots where we probably had some poor matchups."
McCombs said he wasn’t mad after the game, but he asked his players to tell him when he was upset.
"Everybody in that room in unison said, ‘Tuesday,’" McCombs said. "Tuesday is our big, heavy contact day. It’s really kind of the pinnacle of our week. I thought our kids played hard in spots, but we put the ball on the ground a couple of times. Turnovers are something you can’t do, and defensively we just didn’t play well at all.
"The thing was we play about like we practice. The point that we tried to drive home is the fact that if you want to contend for championships, if you want to compete with the best teams in the state, you’ve got to go out there and you’ve got to play a championship game every day in practice. The following Tuesday was probably the best practice we’ve had all year. We had a great practice (this Tuesday). We’re not the same football team we were three weeks ago."
Gaddis leads the Choctaws with 575 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns. Lockett has 550 rushing yards and has scored six touchdowns. He leads the Choctaws with an average of 15.3 yards per carry.
McCombs said Lockett didn’t play last year and worked mainly at wide receiver in the spring.
The offensive line, which is helping the Choctaws average 49 points and 484.7 yards rushing per game, includes senior tackle Brady Ingram (6-foot-4, 300 pounds); senior guard left guard Shaundale Smith (6-4, 280); junior center Tyree Bell (5-11, 240); junior guard Ben McMillan (6-3, 340); and freshman tackle Javontae Goode (5-11, 245).
"Brady Ingram has taken the reins as a leader and done a great job for us," McCombs said. "I couldn’t feel any better about kids because of the way they’ve prepared and the way they’ve matured."
Kiana Johnson commits
Kiana Johnson, who will be a senior point guard for the Northridge girls basketball team, has the right to change her mind, but she committed in August to sign with Northern Colorado. The 5-10 Johnson can sign during the early period in November.
Northern Colorado, located in Greeley, is an NCAA Division I school and a member of the Big Sky Conference. Johnson played for the Lady Jaguars as a junior after moving from Utah. She has family living in Utah, and an older sister, Whitney, plays basketball at New Mexico.
"I wanted to commit early so I could have a good senior year and really focus on finishing out high school strong," Johnson said. "I wanted to get it out of the way and not have to be worried about the stresses of recruiting."
Johnson said she visited the campus and was favorably impressed by the coaches, the facilities and the players.
"I want to be a nurse, and the nursing school there is really great," she said. "The coaching staff put a lot of effort into calling me and talking to me. It looked like they really care about their athletes. Probably the No. 1 thing was that I could tell all the players were best friends."
Johnson led the Lady Jaguars in scoring last season, averaging 13.8 points in 33 games. She averaged 5.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists and finished with 13 blocks and 76 steals. Northridge coach John Cain said the team will have three seniors for the 2012-13 season. Aerial Horton is a forward and post player. KeKe Williams is a center.
"Kiana will definitely be looked up to for strong leadership, especially with her being a senior and the point guard," Cain said. "She’s going to be a vocal leader. Things will run through her. She’s a well-rounded player, but probably the biggest thing is her basketball IQ. She understands what we’re trying to on the court and is able to implement that in game situations. She has a great work ethic. She not only works hard in practice but spends extra time in the gym. She’s the epitome of the kind of person we want in our program.
"She plans to sign early, and if she’s comfortable with it, I think it’s a great decision."
TCHS defense third in AHSAA
Tuscaloosa County’s defensive unit, which has shut out the last two opponents, ranks third among AHSAA teams, allowing 3.3 points per game. Muscle Shoals, which has yet to allow a point, is the leader, followed by J.O. Johnson of Huntsville (2.3).
TCHS started with a 10-7 loss to Mountain Brook but beat Jackson-Olin (44-0) and Hueytown (3-0) in Class 6A, Region 5 games.
"We’re going to try to run it and play good defense," TCHS coach Lee Gibson said. "Our front seven are probably our strength. We’ve got some pretty solid guys in that group. They’re not where they want to be, and we’re still trying to push them every day so they can realize their potential. They’ll tell you they’re still not satisfied. They think they can be better than what they are right now."
Marshall Eads and Dailyn Patton are defensive tackles. Eads scored the Wildcats’ first touchdown on a fumble return against Mountain Brook.
"It just bounced right up in the air, and he caught about the 4 and took it on in," Gibson said.
Terance Leatherwood and Hunter Jenkins are defensive ends. Leatherwood leads the team with four sacks, and Jenkins has two. Gibson said Darius Ellis, Josh Johnson and Brian Brown rotate in on the defensive front. Brown also starts on the offensive line.
Linebacker Ted Colburn leads the team with 22 solo tackles and nine assists in two games. Gibson said Colburn missed the Jackson-Olin game with an ankle sprain. Other contributors at linebacker are Jimmie Maddox, JaVorius Hunter and Kade Livingston.
Defensive back Lucas Webb leads the team with two interceptions. Defensive back Tristan Gardner has one.
TCHS plays at Bessemer City in a region game Friday.
Tornadoes third in scoring
The Pickens County Tornadoes, who ran their record to 3-0 by beating Lynn 42-0 last week, are averaging 52.3 points per game and are tied for third among AHSAA teams in scoring average.
Pickens County, ranked No. 6 in the latest Class 1A poll, opened with a 40-31 win over Fayette County and beat South Lamar 75-7. Defending Class 1A champion Marion County, which is ranked No. 1, is averaging 52.3 points per game. Pickens County hosts Marion County in Reform on Oct. 19. Walter Wellborn is the AHSAA leader with a 55.7 scoring average, followed by Cedar Bluff at 53.7.
Reach Andrew Carroll at email@example.com or at 205-722-0223.