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AISA CHAMPIONSHIP: Tripleheader preview

Staff Report
(Nov. 19, 2009)

Three champions will be crowned on Friday in the Alabama Independent School Association Tripleheader to be played at Troy University’s Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium.

Here is a brief look at the three championship games.

Class A: Patrician Academy (11-0) vs. Crenshaw Christian (11-1), 4 p.m.

Patrician is the defending champions and continued to steamroll over most of its opponents this season. Head coach Bill McNair also won a state championship at Thomasville.

The Saints do offense the old-fashioned way – run down the opponents’ throat.

“I guess they will run me off one day since I don’t use the newfangled passing games,” McNair said. “I’ve been coaching too long and am set in my ways I guess. But the Wing-T has always worked for me.”

Crenshaw Christian counters with a young group that lost 19 seniors from last year but has managed to make it to the finals. The Cougars haven’t won a championship since 1997. They have won 11 straight games this season after losing the season opener to Edgewood.

“We’re not very big, probably smaller than almost everybody we play,” said coach Roland Jones.

The two schools have never met in the playoffs.

Class AA: Monroe Academy (10-2) vs. Edgewood Academy (10-1), 7 p.m.

This was the matchup everyone was anticipating last season, only the Longhorns were upset in the semifinals by Lowndes Academy.

“Last season, we really wanted to play them,” Edgewood running back Hunter Kilcrease said. “I imagine they believe they have something to prove after last season.”

Edgewood won its first-ever state championship in football last season and has dealt with injuries all season. But coach Bobby Carr stated that the Wildcats were healthy heading into the finals.

“We’ve got everybody ready and we are going to need them,” he said.
Monroe has bounced back from a 1-9 season three years ago.

“Our kids dedicated themselves to improving and putting this program back on the map,” coach Mitch Tubberville said. “They really worked hard to get us to this point.”

Monroe is led by running back SamVermilyea who rushed for more than 1,300 yards before being hobbled by an injury. He is expected to return for Friday’s game.

Class AAA: Pike Liberal Arts (10-1) vs. Bessemer Academy (10-3), 1 p.m.

Last season, Pike Liberal won its first state title in football but early in 2009, didn’t look like it was on course to repeat after a loss to Fort Dale Academy.

“We just wanted to finish strong,” senior quarterback Trey Walters said. “After losing to Fort Dale, we had to make ourselves realize that everyone wanted to beat us.”

Expecting a rematch against Fort Dale in the finals, the Patriots instead will face Bessemer, a team they beat 23-16 last months.

But the Rebels are a little more healthy this time.

“I don’t like using injuries as excuses but we were beat up in that game and the loss to Morgan and Monroe,” Bessemer coach Josh Wright said. “I had my leading rusher  kicked off the team and the players started to change the way they saw things after that.”

The Rebels’ top two rushers, J.J. Bias and Marcus McAfee are back. They averaged 7.4 and 9.1 yards per carry respectively.

Pike Liberal reached the finals with a hard-fought 6-3 win over Morgan Academy, a team the Pats beat in the first game of the season.

“It will be different this time and we know that,” Pike Liberal coach Steven Kilcrease said. “(Bessemer) has great athletes that can run. It’s tough to beat a team twice in a season but we have the Morgan game to prove that.”

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