Football Friday Open Still

Every week, the Paul W. Bryant High School football team goes through a particular routine to prepare for the big game on Friday night. That routine was disrupted on Wednesday when coach Eldrick Hill found out his team’s showdown with Class 6A, Region 4 foe Hueytown would be moved to Thursday night.

Like dozens of games across the state, the Bryant (7-1 overall, 4-1 region) versus Hueytown (8-0, 5-0) matchup was moved up a day in hopes of dodging rain and potential severe weather.

That has forced Hill to modify his team’s game day preparation, cutting out a workout and practice in order to get his team ready to play.

“We want to let their bodies start to recuperate and bounce back a little bit,” Hill said. “We preach getting rest before the game. Obviously, just finding out [Wednesday], hopefully they didn’t stay up all night playing Fortnite last night so we’ll see how it goes.”

The shortened week gives Bryant less time to prepare for one of the most dynamic and devastating offensive players in the state: running back Roydell Williams. Williams, a 4-star recruit who is currently committed to Alabama, rushed for nearly 3,000 yards and 32 touchdowns last season. He’s continued to be a dominant force this year as well. Last year, Bryant kept Williams somewhat under wraps.

“I told people last year we held him to 160 yards. They’re like ‘160?’ I tell them that he was averaging about 270 so yeah we held him a little bit,” Hill said.

Despite keeping Williams under his average rushing yards, Bryant lost 31-13 to Hueytown last season. The Stampede are hoping to avenge that loss this season. But a win against Hueytown would mean much more than just settling the score, it could also mean Bryant winning its first ever region title. In order for that to happen, Bryant would need more than just a win over Hueytown. Bessemer City would also have to lose to Northridge. If Bryant loses to Hueytown, it will clinch the No. 3 playoff seed in Region 4.

Hill doesn’t want his team to worry about the playoff implications of its game against Hueytown, He only wants them to focus on what they need to do to win the matchup. That starts with tackling Hueytown’s running backs, both Williams and UAB commit Antonio Mason.

“We preach having 11 hats to the football and getting there the proper way, taking the proper angle, but arriving at full speed and arriving with a certain amount of aggression and anger. If we can do that and make sure we don’t miss many tackles, hopefully we can coral [Williams],” Hill said. “They have another running back [Mason] who is committed to UAB, so they’ll bring him in. It’s going to be a tough match for us but we’ll fight forward and hopefully we can match or overmatch their physicality.”

Bryant’s offense must also be able to produce for the Stampede to take down Hueytown. Quarterback Ty’Javian Edwards has been the engine that makes the offense go, and he will be healthy and ready to play after exiting last week’s game against Hillcrest with an injury.

“He’s full speed, 100% and ready to go,” Hill said of Edwards.

Bryant at Hueytown will kickoff tonight at 7 p.m.

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