Lake, Union set for showdownBy ROBBIE ROBERTSON,
What started out as “The Breland Bowl” has turned into a solid rivalry game for Lake and Union.
The two teams will meet this week with plenty on the line as Division 4-2A play begins for both teams.
Lake comes into the game with a 5-1 record and has won five straight games since a season-opening loss to Pelahatchie. Union is 4-2 on the season and has won three straight games after opening the season 1-2.
“Union has improved a lot,” Lake coach Tate Hanna said. “They were going to get better. They will be well coached and will be sound. Any time it’s a rivalry game like this, you never know what is going to happen. We have to have a good week and step up our game.”
Hanna is a former assistant at Union under Breland and knows this game is important to both sides.
“They are going to play us good,” Hanna said. “We know that and our kids know that. One thing about it, our kids are going to get up to play Union and Scott Central. We didn’t have a good week of practice last week so we are going to have to have a better week.”
Veteran coach Brad Breland has righted the ship somewhat in Union as they have posted two straight wins after trailing by double digits the last two week. But he knows his team will have their hands full against Lake.
“They are good, real good,” Breland said. “They tied for the region title last year and have a lot of guys back. They are going to play physical and hard. It will be another one of those good Lake and Union rivalry games. Hopefully we can keep this going and make a playoff run this year.”
Not only have Hanna and Breland worked together, they have remained friends over the years.
“There aren’t going to be any secrets about what the other one is going to do,” Breland said. “We know how each other thinks. As much as I know about Tate, he knows that much about me. It won’t be any secrets. It will be who blocks and tackles and plays with the most effort on Friday night.”
Last year, Lake won 34-0.
Newton County at Mendenhall
Newton County has little time to pat themselves on the back after winning their second game of the season last week as they take on undefeated Mendenhall on Friday night to open 5-4A play.
The Tigers are 5-0 on the season with wins over Florence (62-25), Raymond (53-6), Magee (46-18), Purvis (29-8) and Raleigh (52-43).
“Mendenhall will present some challenges,” first-year Newton County coach Bobby Bass said. “They have speed and more speed. They are big up front as well. We need to control the clock and play keep away a little bit. We have to make the most out of every possession. They are the most athletic team we have seen so far. The quarterback is a tremendous athlete that can run and throw it. You can tell he’s a coach’s kid. He understands the game and makes everybody around him better.”
The Tigers are led by senior quarterback Christian Allen who has thrown for 644 yards and 11 TDs and rushed for 415 yards and seven TDs. He is the son of coach Monroe Allen.
Tuscaloosa Academy at NCA
The Generals will try to overcome a heartbreaking loss this week as they take on Alabama power Tuscaloosa Academy.
The Knights are 4-1 on the season and opened the season with a 14-13 win over MAIS foe Copiah Academy. They are coming off a 42-17 loss to Autauga Academy.
“They are huge up front,” NCA coach Rob Roberts said. “They have four really big lineman. We had a hole in our schedule and they called us. I didn’t know they were going to be that good. They were 4-6 a couple of years ago. But they beat Copiah, a AAAA school, in the first game of the year. They will be tough.”
Newton at Scott Central
After an open week, Newton is hoping to return some injured players as they take on undefeated Scott Central.
The Rebels are 6-0 on the season with wins over Enterprise (43-14), Morton (41-7), Newton County (34-6), Florence (35-20), Southeast Lauderdale (27-2) and Sweet Water, Ala. (32-6).
The Rebels are averaging 252 yards a game on the ground and have seven players with more than 11 yards. They are led by sophomore Jabrelynn Vivians who has 327 yards on 30 carries.
Senior Navonteque Strong leads the defense with 52 tackles, including a whopping 18 tackles for loss. Sophomore Lajavis Patrick has 48 tackles and 15 tackles for loss.