FOOTBALL FRIDAY: BRYANT, NORTHRIDGE PREPARE FOR RIVALRY GAME
Last year, Paul W. Bryant High School started the season 4-0 for the first time in program history. The Stampede are once again in position to rewrite the record books by starting 4-0 for the second consecutive season with a win on Friday night.
The only thing that stands in Bryant’s way is cross-town rival Northridge.
Even though head coach Eldrick Hill and his players know that last year’s success is behind them, and that this season’s success is still dependent on they play the rest of their schedule, they understand what a win over Northridge could mean.
“Last year was the first time in school history. We’re looking to repeat that. The team knows it, we’ve talked about it, so that’s behind us,” Hill said. “Now, it’s ‘So what? Now what?’”
Bryant has put itself in position to make history for the second-straight season by beating Central, Minor and most recently, Brookwood. The Stampede trampled Brookwood 70-12 last Friday night, securing their first Class 6A, Region 4 win and setting a school record for most points in a single game. Bryant’s offensive performance against Brookwood was unlike anything Hill has seen in his coaching career.
“We’re very fortunate to have been very efficient offensively and really in all three phases of the game,” Hill said. “It was a combination of things. It was a great offensive output for us and it was the most points scored in school history. We’re happy about that, but ready to move forward.”
While Bryant is hoping to remain undefeated, Northridge is still searching for its first win of the season. The Jaguars are 0-3 with losses to Mountain Brook, Demopolis and McAdory.
A key for Northridge against Bryant will be slowing down Bryant quarterback Ty’Javian Edwards, whose shifty playmaking ability has been the catalyst of the Stampede’s offense this season.
“I don’t think you can stop what he’s going to do,” Northridge head coach Mike Vickery said. “He’s going to make plays, which we’ve got to limit the plays that he makes and when he does make some plays we’ve got to find a way to keep him from scoring. That’s the biggest thing is just trying to limit the damage that he will do.”
The difference in the teams’ records shouldn’t make Friday night’s game any less intense. With the schools only being separated by a 20-minute drive, a natural rivalry exists between Bryant and Northridge.
“Bryant is a big rival for us,” Vickery said. “A lot of our kids grew up with a lot of the Bryant kids, so they have a lot of the same background and have known each other for a long time.”
Last year, Bryant claimed a one-possession victory at home after stopping a late push from Northridge. This year, the Stampede will travel about 10 miles to play at Northridge’s stadium, which should be packed with passionate fans. Hill is asking Bryant fans to make the drive to Northridge in order to out-cheer the opposing fans.
“This game here is definitely going to be a hostile environment,” Hill said. “They do things the right way over there and they’ll have a very supportive, proud, very rowdy crowd. We just hope our fans will come out and we tell the team that they need to match or overmatch the other team’s physicality or intensity and we also need our fans to come out and match or overmatch their cheers and support and all that stuff.”