Red Devils face familiar foe in first round of 7A playoffs
​Nov. 9, 2017

By Mark Clark

Friday night will mark the fourth time the Central High Red Devils have faced a Theodore High football team in the postseason. All three of the previous encounters, the Red Devils came out victorious. But, none of that matters now.

“The fourth time is the one that matters. I am glad we are 3-0 against them, but I hope we are 4-0 after this week,” Central coach Jamey DuBose said earlier this week. 

The last time Central met Theodore was in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs in 2000. Central won that game 26-7. The two schools first met in 1994 in Theodore with the Red Devils taking a 28-10 victory. Central defeated Theodore in 1997 at Garrett-Harrison Stadium 13-0.

Theodore made this year’s playoffs as the No. 4 seeded team from Region 1. The Bobcats beat Foley 28-0 last Friday night to earn the final playoff slot from their region. Central finished the season at 9-0 overall and 6-0 in region play and is the No. 1 seeded team from Region 2. 

“You really do not know what a team will do until you get to the game, but the coaches have watched film of them and they are a strong defensive team,” DuBose said. “They have allowed 12.2 points per game and I think that is second in Class 7A behind Auburn, which had allowed about eight points per game. They have a big nose guard. He will clog up the middle. They have been successful in stopping the run. They are real physical on defense. Their offense doesn’t have any stars. They just play good solid football. They are more methodical and like to play slowdown. We like to keep things up tempo.”

Central has been potent on offense all season, using a balance of running and throwing the football. The Red Devils’ running game may be hampered with the potential loss of leading rusher Amontae Spivey. Spivey suffered a high ankle sprain on his second run of the Red Devils’ 56-20 win over Prattville. The junior is questionable for tomorrow night’s game. DuBose said he will be a game time decision.

“He may be able to go, but we might not use him if we don’t need to. We want him at 100 percent when we put him back on the field,” DuBose said.

But, Amontae Spivey is only one of Central’s running backs who have contributed to the offense this season. Freshman Joseph McKay and senior Jamaal Spivey have seen considerable time on the field this season. There are also others.

If the Central running game falters, the Red Devils can turn to their passing game and the state’s top prospect Justyn Ross. Ross leads a group of receivers who have caught 119 passes for 1,887 yards with 21 touchdowns from two quarterbacks – junior Peter Parrish and sophomore Tyler Melton. Both quarterbacks are gaining attention from college recruiters – Parrish has offers from Mississippi State, Indiana and Virginia; and Melton is early in the recruiting process and has received attention from Clemson.

“Theodore likes to blitz and play zone coverage in the secondary. They don’t like to play man coverage and run all over the place. They try to create some confusion in the secondary. From what we have seen, they have not had to face a lot of teams that pass the ball. In the Mobile area, they tend to run the ball more,” DuBose said.

While the Red Devils spent the past week relaxing, as they had no game, there were plenty of activities going on at the school. Ross was presented with his jersey for the Under Armour All American Game to be played Jan. 4, 2018 in Orlando. Ray Thornton received an offer from Duke. Several other players have gotten recruiting attention over the period.

“We’re used to the recruiting process. We talk to the kids all of the time about staying focused on our team and staying humble. We just have to deal with that,” DuBose said. “Last week was a week to relax. It was the end of the regular season. I am a firm believer in having an ending to things. We ended the regular season and now will start thinking about the playoffs. This is a whole new season. Everybody is 0-0. The end of the year rankings are done. The playoff games are set. It’s all about winning now. It does not matter if you win by 50 point or one point as long as you find a way to win. If you win each of the next four games by a single point and play badly, but win, no one will care. You will be the champions. We will be working this week to find a way to win against Theodore. We have to plan for everything they have done. We have to be ready for whatever they do. You have to stay focused to get through the playoffs. That is what we have to do now.”

Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. EST tomorrow night at Garrett-Harrison Stadium.