McCALLA – Bo Jackson played on this field at McAdory High. Jackie Cline did, too. (More on him later). On this chilly October night under the Friday Night Lights, it was Wenonah trying to make some noise statewide. Both the visiting Dragons and home-standing McAdory Yellow Jackets came in unbeaten, and the Class 5A, Region 5 title was on the line.
McAdory has claimed plenty of region crowns. Wenonah? Not so much. When the clock hit all zeros, it was McAdory who took the title, winning, 13-0 behind six interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
To the categories:
TOP PROSPECT: Known more as a basketball player who led the Dragons to back-to-back 5A crowns until a few months ago, senior receiver DeRunnya Wilson (6-6, 220) has been a beast since putting on the football pads for the first time in three years.
“He called me from South Carolina this summer, from an AAU basketball tournament,” said Dragons coach Ronald Cheatham. “He said, ‘Coach, I’m all-in. I’m sitting here on the hotel balcony looking at the ocean, and it hit me: I want to play football.’
“Anytime you have a 6-6 guy who will go get the ball, it helps your passing game, a lot.”
On this night, Wilson hauled in five balls for 119 yards. He has seven touchdowns on the year. Wilson has an offer from Mississippi State and wants to play both sports in college. As the reigning Birmingham News metro boy’s player of the year, he may do just that. As info, Wilson’s hoops teammate Justin Coleman is a point guard very high on the radar of Tide coach Anthony Grant. Football coach Nick Saban has more than a passing (pun intended) interest in Wilson. Watching him wear number 8, with dreadlocks, one can only think of a younger – you guessed it – Julio Jones. Much can happen between now and February, so stay tuned on this one.
SENIORS WHO SHINED: As fun as Wilson is to watch (in both sports), there is a much more polished receiver playing with him. That would be 6-foot-1, 195-pound Nicolas Jackson, a prospect in his right with speed and hands. His routes are more polished than Wilson’s due to more time in pads. He’s a terror at linebacker, too, and has offers from Alabama State and Alabama A&M.
For the Jackets, defensive lineman Dylan Cline (6-3, 255) has a familiar last name to long-time McAdory fans. That’s because his dad, Jackie Cline, played for the Yellow Jackets, Paul Bryant’s Alabama Crimson Tide, and in the professional ranks in both the NFL and USFL. Dylan is a potential Tide invited walk-on, and would qualify for a Bryant Scholarship, should he choose to go that route. He is a heck of a punter, too, booming one clutch kick 52 yards.
JUNIORS TO WATCH: Interestingly, as first reported by John Garcia Jr., two McAdory players will be invited unofficial visitors to the Alabama/Mississippi State game Saturday. Both fullback/defensive end Garian Bradley (6-0, 230) and defensive lineman Cory Thomas (6-5, 260) have the look of those who can contribute at the next level. Bradley gained 52 yards between the guards, and Thomas was quite disruptive with a pair of sacks and two more tackles for a loss.
LARRY MUNSON “MY GOD! A FRESHMAN!” AWARDS: We rarely give this award, much less twice in the same week, but ninth graders Quinnen Williams (6-2, 190, defensive end) and Tyler Thornton (5-8, 150, running back) both qualify. They don’t graduate until 2016, but keep watching their names.
HOW ‘BOUT THAT PIE: It’s probably not the most ringing endorsement for Joe’s Crab Shack on U.S. 280 in Birmingham that I’m writing about their Key Lime Pie rather than the fish and shrimp that preceded it. Oh, they were both OK, but kind of tasted frozen (though Joe, if there is a Joe, would never admit as much). Back to the pie. It came out about the size of a paperback novel. Don’t remember those? Some of you do. But hey, it was a good pie. Not as good as say, Bright Star Lemon Icebox pie, but what is, right? The sign outside says, “Eat at Joe’s.” CC says, “Yeah, but just get dessert.”
Oh, and shout out to the guy from CBS 42 in the Clark Kent/Superman garb who offered me free pizza and water after I realized I’d forgotten to hit an ATM for stadium burger cash. Thanks, man!
NEXT UP: Racean “Rock” Thomas is a guy FNL was among the earliest to report on (other than his then-hometown beat writer, Nick Birdsong). Thomas and his Oxford Yellow Jackets visit Spain Park and gun-slinging quarterback Nick Mullins, whose offer list is shockingly small. Should be a good ‘un!