When he looks around the City League these days, Allderdice head coach Jerry Haslett sees an evenly distributed pool of talent.
“Our guys know that they can match up with anyone right now,” he said. “I think that’s the case across the board with all of the teams in the league right now. We see each other like 20 times a year now (with the league shrinking to six teams) and we’re all pretty familiar with each other.”
|BIG GAIN—Perry quarterback Ahmed Turner (21) breaks thru the USO line for a big gain. Turner scored both of the Commodores touchdowns in their 12- 6 win over USO in the battle for 1st place in the City League.
The struggling Dragons (2-3, 3-5) have snuck into the postseason as the fourth and final seed in this year’s City League playoffs, set to kick off on Oct. 25th. They will face top seeded Perry on Friday at 7 p.m. at Cupples Stadium.
Allderdice fell to the Commodores (5-0, 6-2) in the previous matchup, 12-0. Haslett doesn’t see that as something that will deter his troops, moving forward.
“They’re fast and strong. It’s clear that we’re going to have our hands full,” Haslett said. “We plan on sticking to our guns. We’re going to run the football and play tough defense. We’ll be stout in our approach. We are certainly not looking to trick anyone. We just want to play our game.”
Perry’s Ahmed Turner scored both of his team’s touchdowns in their 12-6 victory over No. 2 U.S.O. (University Prep, Sci-Tech, and Obama) on Oct. 19. The first was a 69-yard run that came in the first quarter.
“They have some real playmakers over there and we have to have a mentality that we’re going to win the battle,” Haslett said. “We can’t let our mind beat us.”
Allderdice still made it to the championship game last season, despite being the fourth seed.
“We’ve been in this place before,” he added. “Many counted us out before and it’s possible that they’re doing it now, too. But we can’t worry about that.”
An emotional U.S.O. team will take the field in the first semifinal game and will face a Brashear team that is coming off of a 21-7 win last week over Allderdice.
“It’s clear that Brashear is a tough opponent and we’ve just lost someone in our family,” U.S.O. coach Lou Berry said. “Our team is broken emotionally and we’re going to have to deal with that throughout the week. But we’re going to come out and play hard.”
The league semi-final will be the first game that the Wildcats will play after the funeral of Ne’Ondre Harbour, a junior lineman that was senselessly murdered on the evening of Oct. 14.
“Our team sympathises what those young men on the U.S.O. team is going through right now,” Brashear coach Rick Murphy said. “But our men also know that we have a job to do and that they must get it done. We try to educate our guys of life lessons in addition to football. And we told them they have to do this or they’ll be watching from their couches.”
Led by by converted Brashear running back DeSean Roberts, the Bulls will be looking to return to the City title game after being knocked out of the semis last season.
“It’s going to be very important for us to protect the football,” Murphy said. “DeSean has been very key in the way we’ve been able to limit turnovers over the past few games. It was a good choice to move him from receiver and we’ll continue to lean on him and others for that.”
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(Malik Vincent can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)