Former Bulldog shares advice for players

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 25, 2016

As the No. 1-ranked Andalusia Bulldogs prepare for their Class 4A semifinal playoff matchup with the Handley Tigers on tonight night, former Bulldog linebacker Nico Johnson talks about what it was like when he played in the semi-finals while at Andalusia.

Johnson is a 2009 graduate of Andalusia High School and won three national championships while playing for Nick Saban at the University of Alabama. After graduating from Alabama, Johnson was drafted in the fourth-round of the NFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. Johnson spent time with the Cincinnati Bengals, Washington Redskins and the New York Giants.

The last time Andalusia made it to the state semifinals was during Johnson’s sophomore season in 2006.

“That year was kind of just one of those crazy things,” Johnson said. “In back-to-back weeks, we had one-point losses to Trinity and Geneva. After those games, we had a team meeting with Coach (Tom) Causey and we just went on a roll.”

The Bulldogs reeled off seven-straight wins after the back-to-back defeats.

“That year the first and second round we kind of got bye easy, but that third round game was tough,” Johnson said. “It was against Elmore County, and that’s the game that I remember more than the fourth-round game. That game against Elmore County we fought through so much adversity.”

Johnson said after the third round game, the players began looking ahead to the state championship game.

“The week of the fourth round game, we kind of bought in to all the talk about us going to state and we lost focus,” Johnson said. “We were looking a game ahead and we just overlooked Thomasville.”

The Bulldogs fell 42-26 to Thomasville in the semifinal affair, but still showed effort in the contest.

“I just remember that they scored 21 points to start the game and it was starting to feel like it was over,” Johnson said. “With a Causey coached team, though, he molded us to never give up. We fought back, but we just couldn’t overcome the how the game started.”

Johnson said that if there was one thing he could tell the Bulldog players it would be to focus on the task at hand.

“The one thing that I would tell them would be to just take it one game at a time,” Johnson said. “Listen to what your coaches are telling that have gotten you to this point. You can’t win the state championship next week if you aren’t focused on the game this week, and Andalusia is past due for a championship.”

Johnson said that he believes the Bulldogs have a chance to bring the blue map back to Andalusia.

“I really think that this team has a chance to win the state championship,” Johnson said. “I stopped in a few months ago to watch practice, and my mind was blown away. Coach (Trent) Taylor has done an outstanding job. For the first time in a long time, practice was running smoothly, every one had something to do and there wasn’t anyone just sitting around. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen that in Andalusia.”