At this point, everyone is good. Everyone is really good. A team doesn’t make it to the quarterfinals of the AHSAA playoffs by being anything other than a solid football team.
So, is Reeltown confident going into its Class 2A quarterfinal against G.W. Long? Yes. But is G.W. Long? Likely so.
Rebel coach Matt Johnson put it simply.
“Yeah, I feel good, but we gotta beat them,” Johnson said. “They’re not going to give us a penny.”
G.W. Long (10-2) is only a No. 3 seed out of Region 2 but Reeltown fans shouldn’t let that fool them. During the second round, Long put the brakes on Luverne, which was previously undefeated and finished just ahead of Reeltown in the final Alabama Sports Writers Association rankings at No. 5. G.W. Long is no stranger to an upset; it has made it this far after all.
The Rebels of G.W. Long seem to boast a fairly solid defense as teams are averaging just 18.6 points against them, but what’s really impressive is their offensive output. They’ve scored in every game this year and have been held under 28 points just once. They’re averaging 36.1 ppg.
But what makes their offense so difficult, particularly for Reeltown, is their unpredictability.
According to Johnson, G.W. Long’s starting quarterback was injured sometime during the regular season and Kobie Stringer has taken over the QB duties during the playoffs.
“Since then, they’ve looked totally different,” Johnson said. “That poses a lot of difficulties because their offense is just completely different. We have all their films but if you look at the first 10, they look much different than the last two.”
G.W. Long is a run-first team and is led by Dillon Caraway, who doesn’t boast a lot of size but is “elusively quick,” according to Johnson.
Stringer also looks to receivers Braxton Whitehead and Hunter Whitehead, and Long looks really strong up front. Linemen Tyrin Brown, Konner Casey, Jordan Lawrence and Benjamin Hogan all boast good size, so the Reeltown defensive line should have its hands full trying to get pressure back to Long’s skill players.
“At this time of the year, we’re having to ask guys to do things they’re not typically doing,” Johnson said. “Just because we’re facing different offenses than we’ve seen, so we had some breakdowns in coverages and run fits last week that we’re going to have to correct. We need to communicate better and we gotta get comfortable being uncomfortable.”
Defensively, Long bases out of a 3-4 defense but Johnson said it’s shown a lot of different looks and it can go to an even front if necessary.
But just like last week, Reeltown (11-1) should be able to match any team’s offensive potency at this point. The Rebels are averaging 36.4 points per game and they’ve got some a variety of weapons. Having Tre Tre Hughley, who played extremely well on both sides but especially offensively last week, back to full speed has been a huge weapon for the Rebels.
“That touchdown run he had (last week), phew, he looked like he was back to the old Tre Tre,” Johnson said. “A lot of what he does is about setting up his cutback, and he’s just getting better and better. (Leading rusher) Cam (Faison) is an athlete; he’s a speedster and he’s extremely good wherever you put Cam. But Tre Tre is a running back.”
And Reeltown’s defense can’t be overlooked either. The Rebels haven’t allowed more than 27 points in a game this season and have given up 20 or more just four times this year. They have posted three shutouts, including one in the first round of the postseason.