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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2007
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Daily illustration by Laura Taylor

Ready for double trouble
Austin prepares for Russellville's top two offensive weapons

By Michael Wetzel
mwetzel@decaturdaily.com 340-2462

It's no secret to David Norwood what Russellville High plans to do Friday night.

The Austin High football coach expects to see a pair of future college players touching the ball ... and plenty of times.

"We know we'll see No. 5 and No. 15 all night," said Norwood, whose Black Bears (2-2) host Class 5A No. 2 Russellville (4-0) at Ogle Stadium at 7 p.m. "They've got some big stars on their team, and we've got some, too."

No. 5 for the Golden Tigers is senior running back Mike Abernathy. Abernathy has amassed 522 rushing yards and six touchdowns through the first four games. Rivals.com lists the 6-foot-0, 227-pound bruiser as the No. 1 fullback prospect in the nation.

Alabama, LSU and Tennessee are three SEC schools interested in him.

Abernathy tallied 204 yards and three touchdowns in the season-opening 34-28 overtime win over Deshler.

In the Golden Tigers' 47-10 win over Brewer, he racked up 155 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries.

Russellville's No. 15 is senior wide receiver/safety/kick returner Caleb Mitchell. He has four scores this season. With 4.4-second speed in the 40-yard dash, Mitchell has Alabama, Auburn and Vanderbilt vying for his services.

In the Deshler win, Mitchell accounted for 20 rushing yards and 72 receiving yards, including a score.

"It's great to have both of them on our side of the ball," Russellville coach Doug Goodwin said. "Michael has great ability. He's big and can run fast and can be the best player on the field when he wants to. Caleb is very talented. He has great hands and a very good work ethic."

Goodwin is in his first year as Russellville's head coach. For the past eight years, he coached at Demopolis, where he was 81-18 and won the 2004 Class 4A state championship.

North Alabama senior quarterback Dusty Goodwin and Delta State football and baseball player Devin Goodwin are his sons.

Leading the Golden Tigers' multiple offense, which averages 31.25 points a game, is senior quarterback Cory Trapp. He had the lone touchdown in Russellville's 14-0 win over 5A rival Hartselle on Sept. 14. He completed 11 of 20 passes for 153 yards in Hartselle.

"Cory does a good job for us running the offense," Goodwin said. "He's a smart kid and throws the ball well on the run."

Meanwhile, Russellville's 4-3 defense is holding opponents to 15.25 points a game. Former Hatton and Speake football coach Paul Czervionke is in his first year as defensive line coach at Russellville.

Austin is getting big games from quarterback Justin Jones and senior tailback T.T. Mallard, but Norwood is looking for something else.

"We've got to play with some consistency," he said. "We're not playing good football every game. We might look good for a while and then just play bad."

In Austin's spread offense, which is averaging 22.25 points a game, Mallard ran for 106 yards in last week's 34-31 win over Sparkman. The Black Bears clinched the victory on Josh Lowman's 21-yard field goal in the game's final seconds. For the Austin junior, it was the first field goal in his short varsity career. In his first year on the varsity, Lowman has made 10 of 11 extra points for Austin.

Austin opened the season with a 14-7 win over Hartselle before falling 31-13 to Huntsville and 43-28 to Florence.

Norwood said he scheduled the 5A powerhouse as a nonregion game to "hopefully make us better."

"If we're going to make the playoffs, we'll see teams the caliber of Russellville when we get there. Playing them will prepare us for the playoffs," he said.

Norwood said he is happy the team practices.

"I'm very pleased with our effort and the kids' attitudes. They come out and work hard everyday in practice. We will continue to get better."

Goodwin said after watching the Black Bears on video he was impressed.

"They look like they're well-coached and have a whole lot of team speed," he said. "They appear to have a pretty aggressive pass rush. It's going to be a chess match out there. We'll take what they give us and hope to outscore them."

Next week, Austin will travel to Madison to take on Bob Jones High. Then the Black Bears begin a three-game stretch of 6A, Region 8 contests, which will ultimately decide the playoff brackets. Austin (1-2 in region play) hosts Hazel Green on Oct. 12, plays at Grissom on Oct. 19 and hosts Buckhorn on Oct. 26. The Black Bears close out their regular season Nov. 2 playing crosstown rival Decatur.

Next week, Russellville visits Athens before hosting Decatur on Oct. 12.

Norwood promises the Ogle crowd that the Black Bears will be ready.

"We're going to play hard and play hard every down," he said.

Ogle Stadium game

Who: Russellville (4-0) at Austin (2-2).

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Stakes: It's a nonregion contest, but still a measuring stick for Austin. The Golden Tigers are ranked No. 2 in Class 5A, while Austin is looking for consistency in its drive for the playoffs. Russellville will be back in the area next week when it plays at Athens and then hosts Decatur on Oct. 12. Both are region games.

Friday's other games

Games in Morgan County: Hayden (0-4) at Brewer (2-2), East Lawrence (1-3) at West Morgan (1-3), Danville (0-4) at Priceville (1-3), Vinemont (3-1) at Falkville (3-1).

Game in Limestone County: West Limestone (1-3) at Ardmore (1-3).

Games in Lawrence County: Hatton (0-4) at Lawrence County (1-3), Muscle Shoals (2-2) at Hazlewood (4-0), Munford (3-1) at R.A. Hubbard (2-2), Westminster Christian (0-4) at Speake (3-1).

Games in other areas: Decatur (3-1) at Sparkman (2-2), Athens (2-2) at Jess Lanier (4-0), Hartselle (1-3) at Cullman (4-0), Clements (2-2) at Wilson (2-2), Elkmont (3-1) at Madison Academy (2-2), Mount Hope (0-4) at Vina (1-3).

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