Wellborn-Fultondale game features two 2A heavyweights in top-10 showdown
by Brandon Miller
Sep 19, 2012 | 4455 views |  0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Wellborn's Juddson Smith gains yardage against Saks in the Panthers' first game of the season. (File photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
Wellborn's Juddson Smith gains yardage against Saks in the Panthers' first game of the season. (File photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
WELLBORN — After falling to Woodland last Friday night 25-24 and losing its No. 1 ranking, Fultondale has no time to put its head down and harp on the loss. Instead, the Wildcats face Wellborn, who set a school record for most points in a game last Friday against Victory Christian, 73-0, after being then-No. 7 Vincent, 60-27, the week before.

“When you’re in this business you just have to move forward and make corrections, and hopefully we can stay on the field with Walter Wellborn this week,” said Fultondale coach Keith Register. “Coach (Jeff) Smith has them going in the right direction. They’re a machine offensively, so hopefully we can stay on the field after that loss last week.

“You’re dealing with kids, so … they have a chip on their shoulder,” Register added. “You have to refocus and almost forget what happened last week, make corrections and changes and focus on the upcoming opponent.”

As Register and the Wildcats spend practice this way trying to figure out how to stop Wellborn’s wing-T offense that has averaged 55.66 points per contest this season, Smith said the Panthers have their hands full with Fultondale quarterback ArDarius Stewart.

“I don’t know if you actually can show or generate the talent where he is,” Smith said on preparing for Stewart. “We can’t simulate it. I mean, the boy runs a 4.3 (second) 40 (yard dash). We’re just going to get out there and show the kids what to do and get them pumped up and excited and do the best we can.”

Woodland coach Larry Strain said his team was able to stop the four-star Alabama commitment last Friday night because the Bobcats focused on stopping the senior’s rushing attack.

However, Stewart still rushed for 70 yards, Strain said, including a 31-yard touchdown run from the tailback position. Stewart also played some at wide receiver.

“He’s our heart and soul,” Register said about Stewart. “When he does well, we do well. When he doesn’t do well, we don’t do well. If he’s having a good game, is running well and things go well, we have a good game.

“Hopefully he’ll be back on page doing what he does every week, and hopefully they can’t slow him down,” he added. “If he’s slowed down, we’re in a little trouble.”

Friday night won’t be the first time Smith and the Panthers have played a championship-caliber team. Smith said over the three years he’s been coaching at Wellborn they’ve played some of the best of the best.

“We’ve played Clay County, Handley and Leeds the last two years, we’ve played Leeds the last three years,” he said. “In ’09, we played Piedmont and Leeds back to back, and Piedmont won the state championship and Leeds went to the semifinals. We play very good competition and have seen some very good players.”

With the defense allowing an average of 13.66 points per game, Smith said it is important for the unit to play together Friday night like he said it has done in the first three games if Wellborn is going to stop Stewart and Fultondale.

“The thing that we’ve got going on at Wellborn right now, it’s not about one or two guys, it’s about our team,” he noted. “We’ve got a good team that gets along good with each other, that’s unselfish, they work good and it’s not really about who does what, it’s about do we get the win at the end of the week.

“I think our team is kind of the Rocky Balboa of high school football right now,” he continued. “We’re going to fight you until we’ve got nothing left in us.”

Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star.

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