Typically, a safety in football is one of the rarer ways in which a team can add points to the board. At Auburn High, it’s becoming nothing if not second nature this season.
The Tigers added two points to the scoreboard for the fourth straight game Friday against Dothan when they tackled the Wolves’ punter in the end zone to give themselves a 2-0 lead in the first quarter. The play marked the second time in 2020 the Auburn special teams recorded a safety, with the other two safeties coming via the Tigers’ defense.
In Auburn head coach Adam Winegarden’s opinion, the recent string of safeties has been a product of the Tigers pinning their opponents deep and striking when the opportunity arises.
“First of all, we’ve been able to play good field position,” Winegarden said. “Matthew Rhodes has been huge for us at punter. He’s been able to pin the teams deep a few times inside the 10 and has given our defense an opportunity to create a tackle-for-loss to get a safety.”
Auburn has cruised to a 4-0 start this season — the team’s smallest margin of victory is 18 points — but Winegarden knows that finding those rare points like on a safety could ultimately prove to be the difference if the Tigers find themselves in a close game.
“It’s huge. Scoring two is a little bit odd, but it gives you — it’s almost like getting a two-point conversion added onto a touchdown,” Winegarden. “Then obviously you’re able to get the ball off the kickoff, and typically you get the ball close to midfield. You’re able to maintain field position.”
Hutchinson comes up huge
Auburn has seen a number of players step up on Friday night to help the team remain undefeated. On Friday, running back/defensive back Amaury Hutchinson was that player.
Hutchinson made the most of every snap against the Wolves, and it showed in his final stats. By the game’s conclusion he had 100 rushing yards and three touchdowns along with seven tackles, two pass break-ups and an interception.
Hutchinson has been a key contributor in the Auburn secondary all year while occasionally getting a few carries on offense. Friday he showed he is capable of leading the way at running back and helping the Tigers’ offense rack up yard after yard.
“He was really big in the game,” Winegarden said. “We’ve had multiple kids who have stepped up at the running back position to make plays for us. I think that says a lot about his ability but also the mindset of everybody on the team.”
Moore where that came from
Opelika head coach Erik Speakman always tells his players that a game will be decided by a few plays here or there throughout the night, and you just don’t know when those plays will occur. On Friday, defensive end Tre’Von Moore came through with two plays that were monumental in the Bulldogs’ latest victory.
Moore shined late in the going of what was a 21-21 tie with Eufaula before Moore blocked a fourth-quarter punt, which teammate Jakai Stephens recovered and returned for the go-ahead score. The Tigers threatened to answer back until another big play by Moore, who sacked quarterback Hess Horne on third down from the Opelika 6-yard line prior to a fourth-down incompletion essentially ended the game.
Moore faced a tough situation last fall when a knee injury cut his junior year short after just six plays. He’s come back strong since then, and on Friday he was the star of the show for the Bulldogs.
Muhammad makes some noise
Central-Phenix City found itself with a commanding 28-0 lead on Jeff Davis with the second quarter nearly over on Saturday. Thanks in part to two plays by defensive back Siraj Muhammad, the Red Devils went into the locker room with the game effectively put on ice.
Muhammad made a second-quarter interception that set up Tre Miles’ 49-yard touchdown pass to Jackson Meeks to stretch Central’s lead to 35-0, and after a Jeff Davis three-and-out on the next possession Muhammad raced in and blocked the Volunteers’ punt. The mad scramble for the loose ball nearly resulted in seven more points, but ultimately the ball rolled out of the back of the end zone to leave Central with a 37-0 lead.
Muhammad showed out on defense and special teams as Central made it two region victories in a row. His play was hard to ignore, and it will be counted on going forward as the Red Devils look to keep their winning streak alive.
“He’s that kind of player. He’s a very dynamic player who can do a lot of different things,” Central head coach Patrick Nix said. “He showed that today with how good he played on defense and on special teams, how good he is and how versatile he is.”
Beauregard breaks through
The Beauregard Hornets technically got their first win on Aug. 28 when B.T. Washington forfeited, but the Hornets were still looking for their first victory on the field when they traveled to Holtville on Friday. By the game’s end, the Hornets truly had a win worth celebrating.
Beauregard quarterback Gavin Prickett threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to Tyler Gordon and Kelvin Malloy, and the Hornets’ defense prevented the Holtville offense from delivering a last-minute scoring drive to give Beauregard a 12-9 region victory. The win puts Beauregard at 2-2 on the season and was a nice answer after a 27-19 lost to Talladega last week.
Beauregard had been on the verge of breaking through a few times to start the fall, and Friday the Hornets finally made it happen. They’ll look to carry that momentum forward this week when they host Central-Clay County, the two-time defending Class 5A state champion.
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