CHASING DREAMS AND RINGS: Bulldogs prep for 1st round battle with ACA

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 3, 2016

Andalusia’s defense causes nightmares in the opposing backfield. Josh Dutton/Star-News

Andalusia’s defense causes nightmares in the opposing backfield.
Josh Dutton/Star-News

The No. 1-ranked Andalusia Bulldogs (9-1) begin the road to the Class 4A state title on Friday night when they host Alabama Christian Academy (4-6) for the first round of the 2016 AHSAA football playoffs.

“The guys are ready to play,” Andalusia head coach Trent Taylor said. “This week, we have done a few things differently from a coaching standpoint to get a little more energy in practice. So far, we have had two really good days this week.”

Andalusia comes into the game with a six-game win streak. Last week, the Bulldogs defeated cross-county rival Straughn.

“I’ve talked to the seniors about this point in the year you aren’t promised another game,” Taylor said. “We have to be focused on what is in front of us. At this point, you are going to get every team’s best shot each week.”

The Bulldogs have been able to put up a lot of points this year and have limited opponents to few chances. On the year, Andalusia has out scored their opponents 354-81.

Andalusia’s defense has pitched three shutouts and has six games where opponents have scored eight points or fewer.

“On defense, we have to continue to fly around to the football and make plays,” Taylor said. “We have to get out there make some plays and flex our muscles a little bit.”

Antonio Gurley leads the way for the Bulldogs on defense. Gurley has 74 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss and four sacks.

Will Clark has also wreaked havoc on opposing backfields with 12 tackles for a loss and four sacks.

William Lindsey is the Bulldog sack leader with seven.

“We need to get off to a fast start on both sides of the ball,” Taylor said. “When we get the ball we need to sustain a good scoring drive, and if we can do that I think it will go well for us.

On offense, the Bulldogs have been lead by quarterback Ethan Wilson.

Wilson has completed 103-of-169 passes for 1,593 yards and 16 touchdowns. Wilson has also added 621 yards on the ground with five touchdowns.

All-State running back Jamal Hourel has missed most of the year due to injury, but returned last week in the Bulldogs’ win over Straughn. Hourel has 258 yards rushing and three scores in limited work.

Senior running back Zack Woods has filled in nicely while Hourel was sidelined. Woods has rushed for 661 yards and six touchdowns.

At receiver, Wilson has several targets to look for including Derrick McQueen, B.J. Anderson, Sebaskin Stallworth and Grant Holley.

McQueen leads the receiving corps with 34 catches for 749 yards and six touchdowns.

Anderson has added 32 catches for 372 yards and four touchdowns.

ACA has lost three games in a row entering the first round of the playoffs. ACA fell to 26-13 last week to Montgomery Academy.

“They are a very good four-seed team,” Taylor said of ACA. “They like to line up in the spread formation, and they are capable of throwing it, but like us they line up in the spread to run the ball.”

On the year, ACA has been out scored by their opponents 172-181.

“There is no doubt that they are good team,” Taylor said. “They played in a tough region, and they have some very good athletes. We aren’t taking them lightly.”

Kickoff between Andalusia and Alabama Christian Academy will be at 7 p.m., Friday at Andalusia High School.