By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
Second-year coach David Smothers has every reason to believe his Addison football team could be peaking at the perfect time.
Two weeks after falling to Falkville 34-20 in a clash of Class 1A titans, the Bulldogs rebounded in dominant fashion with a 38-12 thrashing of 3A-rival Winston County.
This Friday night, No. 3 Addison (8-1) will look to keep the good times rolling when it hosts Phillips-Bear Creek (5-5) for a first-round playoff game.
“Going over and beating them on their home field knowing everbody thinks they’re going to beat us — and knowing that they’re coached well — I was so proud of these kids,” Smothers said of the “huge” victory over the Yellow Jackets. “Defensively, we were in perfect position 99 percent of the time. It was just a well-played game in every phase.
“The kids executed the gameplan. That was the first time I had felt like that this year, that we executed it from beginning to end, special teams and all.”
That special teams unit produced an extremely special moment for Briley Chandler. The senior, who doubles as a defensive end and left guard, fell on a fumbled snap in Winston County’s end zone for the first score of his prep career.
“It was real big. First one ever,” a beaming Chandler said. “Boy, everybody was slapping me on the back. I loved it.”
Franky Melson, a linebacker and one of the Blue and Gold’s many tailbacks, couldn’t have asked for a better way to bounce back from a sloppy outing against Falkville.
“We worked on Double Springs for two weeks, made sure we were set and ready. None of us like to lose,” he said. “It felt really good to beat them, especially that bad.”
At this time last year, the Bulldogs rode into the playoffs as winners of seven straight ballgames. Despite the success that showed in the squad’s record, though, Addison’s players were still getting used to Smothers’ style of coaching. The end result was a first-round loss to Berry, the Dawgs’ second in as many seasons.
Those chemistry issues have been far from a concern throughout the 2013 campaign. Everyone’s on the same page now, which is exactly the way Smothers likes it.
“I feel pretty good about the kids. They’re focused. They’re studying film,” the coach said. “On the mental side of it as a coach, you can draw up all the schemes you want, but unless the kids get it, they’re going to play slow. And these kids are not playing slow right now. They’re playing fast, they get it, they understand it, they know where they’re supposed to be and they’re getting there. That makes it a lot easier to coach.”
Phillips is entering the playoffs with just a single win in the last four weeks of the regular season. The Bears sandwiched a 30-27 victory over Shoals Christian with losses to Hackleburg (28-24), Tharptown (41-32) and Brilliant (38-14).
According to Smothers, Jonthan Crumpton is Phillips’ “go-to guy.” The 6-foot-4 junior’s ability to pull double-duty at quarterback and wide receiver — obviously not on the same plays — makes him a “dangerous threat.”
Addison owns the overall series 12-3-1. Aside from the tie in 1966, all 12 wins have come in a row, including blowouts in 2010 (54-14) and 2011 (63-20).
The Bulldogs are seeking their first postseason win since 2010, when they advanced all the way to the quarterfinals. Another deep run would be just fine with Melson, but he’s not interested in looking too far ahead. Neither is his coach.
“We’re pretty motivated,” Melson said. “We’re trying to stay focused and make sure we dominate in every which way so we can go on to the second round.”
Added Smothers: “We’re playing pretty good ball. I think if we can go out there and execute the gameplan, we’re going to be tough to beat. That’s what I expect us to do.”
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 138 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.