Tuscaloosa, Ala.--The Class 6A Region 5 title was on the line Friday night, and the place was packed. To the victor goes the spoils, and on this chilly Alabama Friday night, it was Hillcrest that went home smiling, by a 35-14 tally. A packed house estimated at 8,000 was on hand.
To the categories:
The young man I chiefly came to see was Northridge sophomore running back Bo Scarborough (6-1, 205, 4.45). Sadly for me, and for the Jaguars, Bo left the game just 11 minutes in after a tackle caused him to land awkwardly and limp to the sidelines with a leg injury. He had 74 all-purpose yards before that, including 53 on seven totes and a 21-yard kick return.
"He brings that home run threat," said Jags coach Mike Smith, pre-game. "When you‘ve got the home run threat, it brings a lot of eyes, and opens up things for other people."
It’s doubtful Hillcrest coach Adam Winegarden was sad to see Bo go.
"He‘s a tremendous athlete," he said. "He‘s got size, speed and power. He‘s got every thing you want at the running back position. He really doesn’t have any weaknesses."
Scarbrough said he tweaked a knee making a cut, and will have an MRI on Saturday. The severity of the injury will become known at that time.
"It changed a lot of the offensive game plan we had for this week," Smith said of Scarbrough’s early exit.
Seniors who shined
For Hillcrest, quarterback Luke Wingo makes the show go, and mainly with his legs. He picked up numerous key first downs, and scored from the three on fourth-and-two with 41 seconds before the half to put his team up 14-6. He scored again later, from the two, and finished with more than 100 yards rushing. He had 97 in the first half alone.
Luke’s dad, Rich Wingo, was a goal line stand linebacker at Bama, as well as a tough-as-nails strength and conditioning coach.
Pats’ left tackle, Luke Lawrence (6-3, 275), is an interior lineman at the next level, possible at Navy.
For Northridge, running back Antonio Easterwood (5-8, 155) is dangerous when he gets in the secondary, and a good receiver, too, as he showed on a six-yard touchdown grab.
Juniors to watch
Scarborough will join wide receiver James Cox (6-1, 175) for an unofficial visit on Saturday to Alabama. Smith says, "has a chance to be special."
Cox finished the night with five catches for 58 yards.
"We don‘t have enough footballs for both Bo and James," Smith added.
Cox has good size, but did have a pair of drops and does not appear to be a guy who can take over a game.
For the Patriots, linebacker Chris Leslie (6-0, 200) is one to watch, along with his fellow ‘backer Keith Holcombe (6-0, 180).
Turns out, Scarbrough was not the only fine 10th grader toting the pigskin Friday. Hillcrest’s Jertavious Sanders is a scatback at 5-10, 155, and quick as the proverbial hiccup. Sanders racked up 193 all-purpose yards in the huge game. Here’s the breakdown: 60 yards rushing on 12 carries, 29 on two catches, and 104 on three kick-off returns, including a 75-yarder to the 17 to set up a key score.
VIPs on hand
How big a game was this? AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese was on hand, along with one of his top lieutenants, Greg Brewer, who oversees the state’s game officials.
Cradle of coaches (and writers)
Paty Hall is an oldie-but-goodie men’s dorm on the UA campus. Three people involved in Friday’s contest resided there in the early 80s. In addition to Smith and Hillcrest assistant O.K. Bryant, I spent some good years at the McCorvey Drive icon. I’m sort of surprised Paty is still standing, as there had been talk of imploding it, but I’m glad it is. Good times.
How 'bout them burgers
The char-grilled taste was nice, but the meat had cooled considerably by the time I dined just before kick-off. Oh, well. It hit the spot. Kind of.
Up next A rare Thursday night FNL, as standout linebacker Reggie Ragland brings his Bob Jones Patriots from Madison down to my neck of the woods, Hoover, for the final FNL of the regular season. It is my first in-person look at Ragland, and it should be fun as two of the top 6A programs in the state get it on. It will become interesting to see how Hoover bounces back from its first loss of the season this week at Mountain Brook.