From Staff Reports
The Union Grove Wolverines are off to a fast 4-0 start. A year ago, head coach Steve Collins' team started the year with seven-straight wins. If the Wolverines are to duplicate last year's amazing start, they will have to keep the winning streak going by winning their next two games on the road. The Wolverines play at Greenbrier (2-2) Friday and Douglass (0-4) the following Saturday afternoon.
Something in common: Neither the Dutchtown Bulldogs or the Alcovy Tigers have rich football traditions. Dutchtown started its program back in 2004, and Alcovy 2006.
Neither team has had a winnng season, but a year ago, both squads came close with 5-5 records.
Now each team is starting to think about making the playoffs this year. Dutchtown, which was off last week, is off to a 4-0 record. Alcovy is 4-1 with its only loss to North Clayton in a tough 13-10 region 4-AAAA battle.
The two teams meet on the gridiron Friday night when Dutchtown plays host to Alcovy.
Cross County rivals: The Ola Mustangs and the Jonesboro Cardinals will get together for a Region rivalry Friday night with one team, the Ola Mustangs (2-3), trying to continue its winning streak, and the Jonesboro Cardinals (1-4) trying to break a four-game losing streak after beating Morrow in week No. 1 of the season. Last Friday, Ola rallied to beat Stockbridge 15-14.
No love lost: The Lovejoy Wildcats and Mundy's Mill Tigers are close by. That doesn't mean there's a good neighbor policy between the two schools. Last Friday, when the two teams renewed their rivaly on the gridiron, Lovejoy (2-3) won 16-6. Mundy's Mill (0-5), which has scored just 25 points this season, is still looking for its first win.
Taylor a 'natural': North Clayton's Kyle Taylor wasn't supposed to play defensive back this season. He was solely a wide receiver last year, and the Eagles intended to keep it that way.
But personnel issues this season demanded that Taylor play both ways, and so far that hasn't been a bad thing.
Taylor had two interceptions in No. 7 North Clayton's 34-13 victory over Mt. Zion last Friday, including one he returned for a touchdown, helping to completely shutdown Bulldogs senior quarterback Jarrell King. Taylor would've had a third interception if not for a penalty call against the Eagles on the play.
"Kyle's a natural athlete," North Clayton coach Rodney Hackney said. "He plays a lot of corner sometimes and kind of freelances for us, but he makes plays. We kind of give him a little leeway, but he's definitely a big-time player."
Said North Clayton star running back/linebacker Clarence Jackson: We expect him to make big-time plays. Really, we expect everybody to step up at certain times in the game, and that was his turn."
And Taylor continues to be a threat at wideout. He had a big 31-yard touchdown catch two weeks against Ola. Last Friday, he involved in some trickery, taking a reverse and passing for a short 8-yard pass back to quarterback Dennis Johnson.
- Brian Paglia
The 'Jack Rules': Clarence Jackson is the reigning Clayton County Player of the Year for his exploits as a running back. He is a Division I recruit verbally committed to Ole Miss because of his tenacity as a linebacker.
Naturally, much of North Clayton's success hinges on Jackson, and balancing his work load as the primary running back and a linebacker is crucial.
So North Clayton keeps him fresh by employing what Eagles coach Rodney Hackney calls the "Jack Rules."
Hackney explains: "If we don't get past 35 (points), he stays out there. We pretty much leave him where he is. We don't want to tire him out on defense, because he runs the ball so much on offense."
Last Friday, against Mt. Zion, Jackson had 115 yards rushing, caught two passes out of the backfield for 45 yards and returned an interception 93 yards for a touchdown.
- Brian Paglia