- Cullman, Alabama

August 29, 2013

TALKIN’ PREP FOOTBALL: After Simmons, Jones, who’s areas next great back?

By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times

CULLMAN — Records are indeed made to be broken, just not necessarily each and every season.

Yet, for two years running, Cullman County’s top marks in rushing yards and touchdowns for a single campaign have been reset, first by Hanceville’s Diamond Simmons (2,106, 28) in 2011 and again by Vinemont’s Ty Jones (2,214, 33) in 2012.

The likelihood of either of those records falling for a third season in a row are slim, but if it were to somehow happen, just who would be the favorite to pull it off?

Hanceville’s Torrey Green? Cold Springs’ Caleb Ellison? Holly Pond’s Jacob Jones? Good Hope’s Jared McClure?

There’s not a bad candidate in the bunch, but based on last week’s jamboree performance, why not Vinemont’s John Michael Dye?

In a matter of 24 minutes against J.B. Pennington, the sophomore turned 17 carries into 142 yards and both of the Eagles’ first-half touchdowns.

While those numbers speak for themselves, what makes Dye’s case even stronger is he’ll be running behind four of the five offensive linemen who helped pave the way for Jones’ record-setting season last fall. All-State honorable mention Marcus Clarke remains the obvious leader of the unit, while Kyle Weems, Austin Blair, Mason Lindsey and tight end Blake Melton are also back for more. Logan Wallace is the lone departure.

One reason Dye might not be the man to overtake his replacement’s records, however, is Vinemont’s depth in the backfield. Trey Guthery, Taylor Evans and Orey Woods all had carries in the jamboree, and Bo Wright is another back ready to contribute at a moment’s notice. When Tyler Boland returns from a second ACL injury, the all-around athlete will likely receive his fair share of carries and attention, too.

Right now, all we can do is run off pure speculation. By the end of Friday night, though, we should have a better idea of if Dye — or the other speedsters around the county — will be the real deal.

The Eagles will get going at Brindlee Mountain with hopes of taming the Lions for a second straight season. In last year’s opener, Vinemont reeled off more than 400 rushing yards en route to a 27-6 victory.

Expect a similar outcome this time around, not just for the Red and White, but also for West Point and Cold Springs, which, like Vinemont, also beat their Week 1 opponents to kick off the 2012 campaign.

The Warriors will travel to Brewer, which they blasted 43-22 last fall, while Cold Springs will hit the road to take on Decatur Heritage, which it blew out 36-6 a year ago to snap the program’s lengthy 35-game losing streak.

West Point has had its fair share of hard knocks this offseason, starting with a a change of the guard at coach and ending with an up-and-down showing in last Thursday’s jamboree versus Good Hope. In between, the Warriors lost playmaker Jordan McKenzie to a season-ending injury and learned they’ll also be without the services of primary running back Kobe Smith for at least the first few games of the fall.

The backfield for Cold Springs, meanwhile, is busier than ever, with at least six boys sharing carries in a winning jamboree effort against Meek. Ellison and Nic Rollo both reached the end zone via the ground game, while newcomers Elisha and Christian Crandall joined veteran Logan Campbell as other weapons tearing up the turf.

Without a football stadium on campus, Decatur Heritage will host Cold Springs at Priceville High in Decatur.

Addison, ranked sixth in Class 1A in the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s preseason poll, has revenge on its mind for the two teams — 2A Ider and Ragland — that put the Bulldogs in an uncharacteristic 0-2 hole in 2012.

They’ll get their shot at Ider at home on Friday, nearly a year to the day the Hornets spoiled coach David Smothers’ debut at Addison with a lopsided 27-7 win.

The Bulldogs plan to keep Ider on a much shorter leash in the rematch. As long as Addison can avoid untimely turnovers, which plagued the Dawgs in a jamboree loss to Lynn, that shouldn’t be much of a problem.

See Tuesday’s Times or visit for a glance of the area’s three other Week 1 games — Holly Pond at Good Hope, Fairview at Hanceville and Cullman at Walker.

% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 138 or at