Running backs Rashard Williams and Zondrick Foster won’t suit up tonight as the Bulldogs take on Alexandria in a pivotal early-season region matchup.
“That’s part of the game,” Anniston coach Eddie Bullock said. “You’re going to have guys that get injured, and it’s unfortunate, but you play like this year is my time.
“Without them, you can’t make excuses for them. You have to move on to the next guy, so I’ve had to take some guys off of the defense.”
Foster, though, doubled as the Bulldogs’ middle linebacker, too. Without giving names, Bullock said he has moved a few guys on defense to a new position.
“They’re a bit jittery about what they’re doing, but anytime someone gets a chance to run the football, they want to run it,” Bullock said.
Senior Jarline Lee, who transferred to Anniston from Alexandria over the summer, isn’t an option either as he continues to heal from an injury of his own. Lee was hurt in the fall jamboree.
“He’s getting that fixed and getting that checked out, so we’re just kind of waiting and letting that heal up some,” Bullock said. “There’s a possibility he may be back by the end of the season, but it depends on how well his progress goes.”
Alexandria coach Frank Tucker said earlier in the week he was unaware if Williams and Foster were going to play, but said the Valley Cubs would prepare for Anniston’s best players.
“I think our defense has played a whole lot better this year, but we’ll be seeing speed that we haven’t seen all year,” Tucker noted. “It’ll be a big challenge for our defense to continue to play well.”
But for Anniston, there’s little question as to who it’ll need to stop: Justice Owens.
Just like last season, Owens has filled up the stat sheet. He has 453 yards on 58 carries and five touchdowns rushing, and 218 yards on five catches with and three more scores.
“He’s the same Justice Owens he’s been the last two years,” Tucker said. “He comes to practice, works hard. One thing about him, he’s consistent every week in what he does.”
Consistency is something Alexandria would like to see against Anniston after Owens’ dominating performance last week. Owens tallied 180 yards on 23 carries with two touchdowns and two catches for 79 yards and one touchdown. Two of his three touchdowns went for 70-plus yards.
Bullock said containing Owens’ speed to the outside would be key, but added Alexandria’s overall speed with the misdirection in its wing-T offense is hard to defend, as well.
“They take the backs and pull the guards one way and hand the ball off coming back in another direction,” he noted. “If we’re not disciplined and are looking in the backfield, we’ll get caught up. It’s something you’ve got to watch for. They execute that really, really well.”
Despite Anniston leading the series 31-5, including a 35-6 victory in the 2011 contest, Bullock said the Bulldogs are going to have to play hard-nosed football Friday night to keep the success against Alexandria going.
“We have to expect another game pretty much similar to the Cleburne County and Lincoln game,” Bullock said.
Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star.