Tuesday, November 24, 2009

And the Bully goes to...........!

Eight teams are left in each classification, two from north and two from the south and unfortunately no local teams. Bob Jones and Madison Academy lost last week leaving Hubbard, Deshler, and Russellville as the only true north teams remaining. I bragged last week my picks for the north were still good but after last Friday I lost one when Russellville put a whipping on Cullman. This one surprised me as I have seen Russellville this year and while their good, didn’t see them getting to the semi’s in 5A. Remember, they didn’t even win their region. McAdory, beating Hartselle at home last week, now travels to Russellville this week for the right to the super 6 (finals).

Madison Academy’s dream season came to an end in a close one last Friday, losing on a game winning field goal to the defending state champs, Leeds. I was impressed with MA's ability to keep this one close. I know Leeds is not as good as last year but figured they would shut down MA’s offense and grind out the yards wearing down the MA defense.  Ultimately they did! I didn’t think Leeds would make mistakes with turn-over’s which is something MA’s defense has capitalized on all year. A pick 6 and fumble return gave MA 14 of their 21 points. Give MA credit for using opportunities to stay in this game.  Leeds will struggle this week against Piedmont if they can’t throw the ball any better than what they have been and I am no longer confident of my Leeds pick for the 3A north now.

Bob Jones fought hard at Hoover last week even without their QB and one of their better players (most of the game) both due to injuries. A little self destruction in the 3rd quarter resulted in a pick 6 and blocked punt for a TD which became too much for the Patriots to overcome. One thing about this year's BJ team, they didn't quit. Like the Homewood game earlier this year they fought back late scoring multiple times in a hurry.  A lot of returning starters next year so they should be fun to watch.

Now that football season is over for our area, it is time for the Bully awards. These picks were based on I have seen or know this year so some teams might not have gotten a fair review. Doesn’t really matter, it’s my blog.

Bully’s Coach of the Year: I was hoping at least one would win last week to make this award an easier choice but that didn’t happen. Therefore, I give out two COY awards, one to Kevin Rose of Bob Jones and one to Eric Cohu of Madison Academy. Both first year head coaches that took their teams to new heights in regard to total wins in a season. Bob Jones played like most folks around here have been waiting on them to play over the last 5 years since we know there is a ton of talent at that school. Although MA caught lightning in a jar with the weakest 3A R8 in recent memory, they still capitalized on it by running the table which is all you really can do. In my opinion, losing their QB in week 9 made MA less likely to go far in the playoffs yet won at least one more game than I thought they would. Props to both coaches for a job well done!

Bully’s Offense: Athens can pass, Russellville can run, and Bob Jones and Hartselle can do both but I was really impressed with Florence High School when I saw them so they get my offensive team of the year.

Bully’s Defense: Although I thought Muscle Shoals had the best linebackers of any team I have seen, I give the nod to Madison Academy due to their ability to score on defense and make adjustments at half to shut so many teams down in the 2nd half.

Bully’s over achieving team: Elkmont, due to the numbers they lost last year and the fine job they did this year, getting to round 2 of the playoffs.

Bully’s underachieving team: One could say Huntsville but they did get to playoffs so I pick Buckhorn. Too much talent on that team not to make the playoffs.

Bully’s Stadium of the Year: Hard not to be impressed with the Bedford Bowl, I mean Russellville high school. If they had artificial turf, it would be perfect.

Bully’s playing surface: Hands down, Milton Frank.  A great decision by the city of Huntsville 3 years ago. I still don’t understand why they put the yellow soccer lines on it though.

Bully’s fans of year:  No question-Bob Jones. No one tailgates and packs a stadium each week like they do. 

Bully’s Band of the year: While I enjoyed the Athens band half time song selection and the BJ band is big and impressive, I still think Grissom has the best overall marching band.

Bully’s Band Player of the year: Athen’s Alex Beaver. No one blows a bugle on Led Zeppelin tunes any better.

Bully’s best fund raiser of the year: Athens band fund raiser of selling chicken stew. So good it would make a puppy pull a freight train (if I had to explain it, you wouldn’t understand).

Bully’s cheerleader of the year: Caitlin Griffith at Bob Jones. Like you expect a tough football player to play thru injury, she cheered late in the year while battling illness. A real gamer!

Bully’s best concession stand of the year: Holtville High School. Fresh food right off the grill and served with a smile.

Bully’s best PA announcer: Huntsville High’s announcer at Milton Frank. Don't know who he is but he is the best around!

Bully’s best High School football writer: Uh, Me! What, you think I’m impressed with the real media? Honorable mention goes to Brooke Milam at the Decatur Daily.

Bully’s best radio broadcasters: Although they get a little caught up with too many complaints of the officials, I think Bob Jones crew does the best job overall. Good clarity and you generally can tell what is happening.  Wish I could remember their names.

Now that we are down to just a few teams and you will have to travel at least an 1.5 hours from Huntsville to see a game, you might want to pencil in Cherokee County-Deshler this Friday.  The Bama/Auburn game should be over in time to drive down to Centre.   I have been mentioning this game for a few weeks and it most likely will be the 4A State Championship game as I can't imagine anyone from the south beating either team. Last year, Deshler lost to CC at home 39-36 in the semi’s and this year’s game could be just as exciting.

Some random ramblings.

Below is a portion of an email I received from one of the weekly readers of the bully blog and instead of summarizing, I will just cut/paste. Thank you Mr. Owens!

Basketball is in full swing. Holidays are right around the corner, which means there will be several tournaments to attend. A lot of talent in the basketball arena this year. Probably none bigger than the kid from Muscle Shoals that signed with LSU last week. It will also be interesting to see how Deshler's boys do under first year head coach Jake Miles. Jake was at Austin last year as an assistant coach.

Baseball just finished up with a week of fall/winter practice. Congrats to Stafford Booth (M.A.) for signing with Auburn and C.K. (Mars Hill) signing with Samford. Samford's program is on the way up thanks to their relatively new coach Casey Dunn. Casey is the son of former Vestavia Hills legend Sammy Dunn (9 state championships) and former All-American catcher at Auburn.

Also, if you not a Bama/Auburn fan but want to see some exciting college football, go catch UNA in Florence. They got a week 1 bye in the DII playoffs and won last week in the 2nd round. A great program under first year coach Terry Bowden that could play for the National Championship on Dec. 12. Tickets are $20 and you can’t beat that price for a college game.

You remember last week I gave you some insight to breakfast in the Huntsville area. Below is another email I received on the subject from Ms. Daisy. Don’t get any better for a professional biscuit eater.

The best breakfast in Huntsville should be easy to find, especially for a seasoned professional like you. Just get out of bed and take the first right as you leave your bedroom. Breakfast made to order and served with a kiss! Now you tell me where you’re going to find a deal like that anywhere else!

She is the best homemade biscuit maker around bar none! 

Basketball is in full steam. Got a chance to see Butler the other night and they’re good. No other way to say it. Looks like Coach Doss has a team that could 3-peat in 5A. Bob Jones is really struggling with the success of football lasting into the first few weeks of basketball and some injuries. They will begin to get better but injuries sidelining two key players till at least late January will make this season very challenging for Coach Petty. Madison Academy is another program that is struggling early. Some of this is due to the success of their football program as well, but also demonstrates what happens when you lose an all-state point guard to graduation. Never under estimate the importance of that position. Just saying!

If you want to catch some good high school basketball over the Thanksgiving weekend, check out the SportsMed shootout at the VBCC.  The only local tourney where you get quality teams from all over Alabama, and some from Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida and Mississippi.  Cheap admission for the whole day with two games going on at the same time and free covered parking.  I personally think it is one of the best tourney's of the year due to ease of parking, availability and comfort of the seats, and the walking around room.  It starts Thanksgiving (Thursday afternoon) and goes thru Saturday.  Here is the link to the web site if you want to check out the bracket and see who is playing when. http://www.sportsmedshootout.com/

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