The Alexander football team is in the midst of a special class that has helped lead the Cougars to back-to-back playoff appearances. AHS advanced to the Elite 8 last year in the 4A classification and look to go even deeper into the playoffs this year while playing in 5A.
The Cougars enter the tournament as an underdog with a No. 3 seed from Region 5-AAAAA. However, Alexander is no stranger to prevailing under these circumstances. Last year AHS entered the state tourney as a four seed and managed to beat Dalton in the opening round and Lanier in the second round, before eventually falling to Wayne County.
While Alexander has faced several challenges this year in trying to repeat their playoff berth, the team has managed to come together and prevail despite the odds.
The Cougars opened the season without their running back, Mikell Lands-Davis, who rushed for 2,400 yards in 2013. They also had to start from scratch on the offensive line. The new o-line picked up right where the senior ladened line left off last season, quickly filling that void.
As for Lands-Davis, though he missed the first three games, quarterback Baylor Whitfield and running back, Caleb Freeman helped pick up the slack. Through those three games Freeman rushed 64 times for 283 yards and three touchdowns. He saw his carries drop when Lands-Davis returned but last week against New Manchester, the senior was unstoppable, rushing 30 times for 148 yards and two TD’s.
Since his return, Lands-Davis has put up solid numbers, rushing 105 times for 507 yards and five touchdowns. However, he was limited in his last two games, carrying the ball only 17 times for 59 yards.
One reason Lands-Davis’ numbers have declined a little per game is because of the success of Freeman. Another reason is that he is receiving more receptions as the offense grows under Whitfield.
Whitfield is having an outstanding year after breaking out near the midway point of the 2013 season. He has completed 155-of-250 passes for 1,800 yards and 19 touchdowns. He has only five interceptions.
Whitfield’s favorite target has been Isaac Zico, who has 55 catches for 889 yards and 12 scores. Lands-Davis has caught 22 passes for 273 yards. Last week, though he rushed only twice, he caught eight passes for 110 yards and a score.
Defensively, Alexander has struggled at times this season. The Cougars are allowing an average of 27.9 points per game.
The “D” has been led by Jordan Pounds, who has 107 tackles, though he came out of last week’s game with an injury. Pounds has 54 solo tackles. The defense has received a boost this year by emerging sophomore, Tray Jureidini-Wyche. The defensive end leads the team in tackles for a loss (17) and sacks (10). He forced a crucial fumble by New Manchester quarterback Tabashi Thomas in last week’s game which sealed the victory.
The Cougars have eight other players with 40 tackles or more this year.
The defense will have its work cut out for it this Friday when the team travels to Stephenson. The Jaguars took it to the reigning champions last week before eventually falling to Creekside, 34-27, to take the second seed in Region 6-AAAAA.
Stephenson’s defense has been outstanding in 2014. The Jaguars have held opponents to seven points or less in six of 10 games. Have have three losses this year, two of which were to Creekside. The other came against a team from Miami.
Stephenson’s offense is averaging 35.7 points per game thanks to a big front line. They run a modified Wing-T offense and take advantage of three above average running backs and three D-I committed receivers.
Game time Friday is set for 7:30 p.m. The game will be played at Pantherville Stadium in Decatur.