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Top 10 Football Predictions for 2011- Bham News
August 21, 2011Hoover High School
10 bold predictions for Birmingham high school football
1 -- Briarwood Christian and Hueytown will play each other for the Class 5A state championship
Let's start out with the boldest gut feeling. Hueytown went 11-2 last year and Briarwood went 13-2. Everybody's back, including the bus driver, concession stand grill men and the "Get Back" coaches. Hueytown's passing game strengths can be defused by Briarwood's returning talent in the secondary. The Lions have big weapons in the passing game, but the Gophers have a pair of three-year starting cornerbacks. The Gophers' Chris Rabb is the most dominating defender in Class 5A, but the Briarwood offensive line is so strong it shifted one of its five returning starters to the defense. Hueytown's QB has committed to Florida State. Briarwood's has pledged to play at UAB. The pairings will be so good here's a sub-prediction: It will take overtime in the state title game in Tuscaloosa to figure out who gets the blue map.
2 -- Hueytown's Jaboo Winston will win Mr. Football
He showcased his skills winning the MVP out of a derby of the nation's top 24 quarterbacks at the Elite 11 last month. He's also a four-year starter who's never had a losing season and made the playoffs twice. The Gophers went 11-2 last season without him having a true downfield vertical threat. His dual-threat running ability was a big factor in only about four game plans in 2010. It wasn't needed. Winston now has a great weapon in transfer Cameron Broadnax to fire at this fall and he'll increase on his 2,342 passing yards and 17 passing TDs from 2010 with him around. He also ran an average of fewer than 10 times per game last fall and still totaled 870 yards and another nine scores. The 6-foot-4, 208-pounder also punted 34 times for a 34.5 yard average last year.
3 -- Winston will wow, but he won't lead the area in passing or TD passes
That preseason favorite for those honors is Spain Park junior Nick Mullens. The kid is sharp, he's got the arm talent and puts in the time. The Jaguars offer a safari of receiving talent, but also boast several all-purpose backs that will catch and scoot with the short stuff. Mullens was very good last year as a sophomore. He'll be even better this fall. Why? Read on.
4 -- Spain Park coach Chip Lindsey will be the Metro Coach of the Year
The real reason Mullens will shine is Lindsey. The former quarterbacks coach from Troy University programs Mullens with the same stuff he taught his college quarterbacks. Why the fuss then? Well, Chip's a guru. Lindsey's quarterback (Hutson Mason) in his last season of prep football at Lassiter in Metro Atlanta set Georgia records with 4,560 passing yards and 54 touchdown passes in 2009. Mason completed 72 percent of his passes that season. Mason, who's now the backup at Georgia, threw for 530 yards and eight TDs in a playoff game. Lindsey thinks that Mullens is a comparable talent to what Mason was when he was that age. If Mullens can provide 70 percent of the production Mason did for Spain Park this year, that's 3,192 yards and 40 touchdown passes. The competition is tougher in Birmingham, but keep in mind those numbers came in just 13 games. Yep, just 13 games. That's an average of 350 yards and four scores per Friday night. Lindsey also feels that Mullens has better weapons to work with than what Mason had back in 2009 at Lassiter.
5 -- LaDarius Rodgers will have 2,000 rushing yards by November 4
That's the Saturday after the first week of the playoffs. Rodgers — who rushed for 8.0 yards per carry on the way to breaking the 1,000-yard mark as a sophomore — started at linebacker for the state champions last fall. He was the No. 3 tailback behind two senior backs. With that pair graduated, look for "Speedy" to get the bulk of the carries this fall. The 6-foot, 215-pounder showed he didn't have any rust on his big-play wheels in the state title game last December. After injuries befell those seniors, he ran for 256 yards and three scores on 13 carries to earn the game's MVP award. He broke scoring runs of 87, 34 and 75 yards, with his 87-yard scoot setting a Super 6 record for Class 3A.
6 -- Gardendale's Jordan Howard will be the area's next breakout player
Rockets coach Chris Fancher would prefer we keep on the DL, but let's give his junior tailback some due. He's going to remind you of those old-school I-formation SEC tailbacks of years past. He's been on our watch list since Curtis Coleman gushed about his talent when he was a freshman at Shades Valley. He has transferred to Gardendale and look for him to stack up about 150 yards and bruise the shoulders of the safeties that bow up to meet him in the open field each week. He's going to have about 4-5 SEC offers by the end of the season. He ran for only 365 last season, but he will triple that this fall.
7 -- Hoover will lose at least three games this year
We still like the Bucs to go deep in the playoffs this year, but they bring back only five starters this year. Sam Gillikin will be a hoss as the new quarterback, but the feeling behind the three losses is more of a nod to the degree of difficulty of its schedule than a major downgrade on Hoover's stock. South Panola (Miss.) comes in the opener, and at least one service pegged them national champions last fall. Then there's Bob Jones, Gadsden City, Mountain Brook, Spain Park and Vestavia Hills to deal with on the docket. We think the Bucs still win four of those six games and they'll still be a Week 13 or Week 14 team. But if they lose three on the field, that will be the first time that's happened since 1999.
8 -- Leeds' Javiere Mitchell and Chris Rabb of Hueytown will combine for 100 tackles for losses this fall
Yep, that's way out there but consider these fast facts: 1) Mitchell is an elite SEC recruit who's just in his third season of football. He had 33 tackles for losses as a junior; 2) Rabb had 47 tackles for losses on the defensive line for Hueytown in just 13 games.
They'll both be better this fall and look for Hueytown to play two more games than it did in 2010 to boost Rabb's numbers. Bonus prediction: The two defensive linemen/linebacker combo players will be the best defenders in their classifications this fall.
9 -- Earnest Robinson will catch 20 touchdowns this season for Pinson Valley
Huh? Well, the junior already holds college offers from every ACC and SEC school he could ever want. Alabama and Auburn told the Pinson Valley staff he was the first WR recruit they offered a scholarship to nationally in the Class of 2013. Robinson had 10 touchdowns on just 25 catches last season and his spring game catch against Clay-Chalkville is already a must-see YouTube visit. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder has his quarterback Kaleb Harris returning and has a great group of teammates to keep defenses honest in 2011. Every sign points to him cracking that plateau this year. If he does, that would make him one of only 10 receivers in state history to reach that mark.
10 -- Another down year for city football
Birmingham's city teams will still struggle. The city schools failed to place a football team in the playoffs last season for the first time since 1968. Expect more of the same. Jackson-Olin had a shot this season, but the transfer of a big recruit at linebacker and the shenanigans the system put the team through this summer while finally giving Terence Amos back his job will prevent the city's best hope from reaching the postseason this fall. We don't see any teams from the city reaching the playoffs again this season.
2010 in review
We'll get some of these predictions totally wrong, but we'll be half-right on a few.
If you think these are way off, check back to last year's version. We went way out on several limbs and got five of 10 right. We'd have gotten more but we predicted Leeds to have three 1,000-yard rushers last season. The Green Wave had just two. We said Minor's Christion Jones would be the area's best defender last season, but he probably was still in the Top 3 with Jonathan Rose of Leeds and Chris Rabb. We missed that Shades Valley prediction to make the playoffs by about five wins and thought Vestavia Hills would win only about 7-8 games when they wound up going 9-3.