By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times
WEST POINT —
Last year’s 2-7 West Point football team entered its final game of the regular season against 7-2 Fairview in a game the Warriors weren’t expected to win.
Apparently, West Point never received that memo, pulling off a stunner and defeating the Aggies by a slim 37-36 margin.
On Friday night, the Warriors (2-7, 1-6 in Class 5A, Region 8) will have a chance to repeat the same script as last year when they travel to Fairview (7-2, 5-2 in Class 4A, Region 6) for a clash between county rivals.
A.J. Lamar said he’d like to see a similar outcome to the 2011 regular season finale.
“We’d like to have some momentum going into the off-season,”the West Point coach said. “It’s a big county rivalry for both schools, and I hope we can send our seniors out with a win.”
The Warriors will take on the Aggies this Friday without All-State kicker Mark Laney, whose field goals of 48 and 50 yards, respectively, were crucial in last year’s upset victory.
“Last year, we had a definite advantage in the kicking game,” Lamar said. “Other than that, it’s basically the same kids playing for each team. We’re just going to have to be more sound on both sides of the ball this time around.”
One area the Warriors could have trouble with is containing Fairview’s Luke Bailey.
The senior quarterback has been on a tear in his last two games, accounting for eight touchdowns and more than 600 offensive yards in wins over Sardis and Crossville.
“Fairview’s got some good things going on over there,” Lamar said. “You’re not going to be able to completely stop their quarterback, but we need to be able to recognize formations defensively and hopefully put him in some tough situations.”
To pick up a win Friday, the Warriors will have to play far better than they have recently.
West Point has been outscored by a margin of 139-6 in its current three-game losing streak.
Lamar thinks running the ball efficiently will be the determining factor against the Aggies.
“Last year, we ran the ball really well against them,” the coach said. “We’re going to have to use the quickness of our backs and the size and strength of our offensive line to make our plays.”
One of those linemen is senior Paul Quattlebaum, who’s using last year’s result as motivation going into his final game as a Warrior.
“We proved everybody wrong last year,” he said. “It’d be good to do it again this year, and we’re going to do everything we can to make it happen.”
Running back Tate Duckett had his own reasons for wanting to get the win.
“I’d like to get it done for the people and fans who come out to support us every game,” the senior said. “We just need to go out there and do our jobs.”
The ground game has been the offensive strength of the Warriors all year long.
However, Lamar thinks quarterbacks Bryant Farley and Tanner Rusk can make plays with their arms as well as their feet.
“Those guys can throw it around,” Lamar said. “We also have receivers that can get out there and make plays as well.”
With a disappointing season already in the books, the Warriors will have to wait until next year to have another shot at the playoffs. They last did so in 2008.
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 258 or at email@example.com.