Fearless Bulldogs head into Lions’ den

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 20, 2015

1120-spt-Jamal-HourelAndalusia’s dynamic offense and stifling defense will lead the charge for the Bulldogs (11-1) tonight when the travel to Munford to face the Lions in the third round of the Class 4A AHSAA football state playoffs.


“They are a very good team,” Andalusia head coach Trent Taylor said, “but every team you face at this point is going to be a good team. They are a different type of team than we faced last week. They won’t have the number of athletes that Dadeville had, but they have a great system in place.”


This will be the first ever meeting between the Lions and the Bulldogs.


The Andalusia offensive line has given Ethan Wilson a lot of time in the pocket.

The Andalusia offensive line has given Ethan Wilson a lot of time in the pocket.

Munford comes into the contest on with a seven-game win streak and have scored 429 points this season. The Lions’ defense has allowed 274 points this season.

Munford earned a place in the third round by knocking of W.S. Neal 20-0 in the first round and beating Straughn 25-15 in round two.


“On defense, they started out the season with an odd front, but have switched to an even front over the past several weeks,” Taylor said. “It’s made them better and very tough to run against. We are going to have to stay with or blocking assignments and mix the play calling up.”


When the Lions are on defense, senior middle linebacker Austin Stephens leads they way for Munford. Stephens piled up 20 tackles in the Lions’ first-round win over W.S. Neal. It was the second time this season that Stephens has recorded 20 or more tackles.


“They have a big defensive front and a pair of good linebackers,” Taylor said. “No. 14 (Stephens) is a very good linebacker that gets to football quickly, and he is a pretty good sized kid.”


The Munford defense has forced five turnovers during the playoffs, with four coming against W.S. Neal and one against Straughn. Lions’ defensive back Kendrick Handley Brown had two interceptions in the opening round win.


On offense, quarterback Avery Harris leads the charge for the Lions and last week was 11-for-22 passing for 197 yards and three touchdowns against Straughn. Two of the Harris’s touchdowns were thrown to Tanner Reeves, who ended with four catches for 44 yards.


“Offensively, they are similar to us in a since, but were we like to establish the run first, they want to pass first,” Taylor said. “They are can still run the ball, though, but they seem to want to establish the pass. Their quarterback and running backs are both good athletes and they are going to try to get him the ball on a lot of screens. Screens are definitely a major part of their game plan.”


The Bulldogs enter the contest with a 10 game win streak in tow, including at 48-0 victory over West Blocton in the opening round and a 44-26 win over Dadeville in round two.


Andalusia’s fierce defense comes in having allowed just 186 points this season. Seniors Morris Calloway, Trevor Parker and Demetrius Lane lead the Bulldog defense.  Juniors Antonio Gurley, Jason Donahue, Riley Graham, KeShun Townsend, Ridge Riley and sophomore Will Clark have also been a big part of the Bulldogs’ success on defense.


The defensive front for the Bulldogs has made it a habit to live in the opposing team’s backfield and constantly keep offenses out of sync.


In the opening round of the playoffs, the Bulldogs’ defense pitched its second shutout of the season after blanking West Blocton (Andalusia shutout T.R. Miller 25-0 in the first game of the year). Six times this season Andalusia has allowed 16 points or fewer. Last week’s 26 points given up to Dadeville, were the most points that the Bulldogs have allowed since giving up 35 to UMS-Wright in the second game of the season.


Andalusia’s offense has been electric this season, putting up 404 points in 12 games. The Bulldog offense is led by the big sled-pushers up front that have opened up holes big enough to drive a tank through, which is appropriate for the tank-like running back (Jamal Hourel) the Bulldogs have in the backfield.


Seniors Chandler Jones, Colton and Ashton Elmore have been the backbone of the stout offensive line along with juniors Matthew Fleming, Tommy Kanaley and Allen Butler.


With the hard-working offensive line, junior running back Jamal Hourel has had a career season. Last week, Hourel eclipsed the 2,000-yard rush mark on the season and then also went on to break the school single-season rushing record of 2,200 yards. Hourel finished the game against Dadeville with 281 yards and five touchdowns bring his season totals to 2,255 yards and 34 touchdowns.


At quarterback, dual-threat sophomore Ethan Wilson will once again be taking the majority of the snaps for the Bulldogs, said Taylor. Wilson has thrown for a pile of yards, but he has come through in many big situations for the Bulldogs. Against Dadeville, Wilson was 5-for-11 passing for 67 yards and one interception, and he rushed nine times for 73 yards, including a long run of 35 yards.


When Wilson looks to pass, there are several playmakers at wide receiver at his disposal, including senior Jaxon Rudolph, sophomore B.J. Anderson, juniors Derrick McQueen and Jaden Brown. Against Dadeville, Anderson has two catches for 26 yards and Rudolph had just one grab for 24 yards, but it came at a big time when the Bulldogs needed 23 yards for a first down. McQueen also had one catch for 12 yards.


Anderson leads the team in receptions and yardage, but McQueen has the most touchdown catches.


On special teams, the Bulldogs rely on the booming right leg of Chase Hopkins. A lot of Hopkins’s kickoffs have ended up in the end zone for touchbacks, and he has only missed a few extra points. Hopkins kicked a 24-yard field in last week’s win over Dadeville.


“On special teams, I think we are pretty evenly matched,” Taylor said. “They have a good kicking game and they really aren’t going to do anything to hurt themselves.”


Taylor said the key to game is assignment football for the Bulldogs.


“We are just going to have to go out there and take care of our assignments,” Taylor said. “Whoever takes advantages of opportunities like turnovers or other mistakes will be the team that survives to the next round.”


Kickoff between the Bulldogs and the Lions will be at 7 tonight in Munford.