Eagles host Brantley tonight in scrimmage

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 25, 2001

Sports Editor

When the Goshen Eagles and the Brantley Bulldogs last met on the football field in 1999 there was at least one similarity.

Both teams had new coaches.

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Brantley started the season under the direction of David Lowery, while the Eagles were led by Joe Thornton, who took over for the departed Julius Head that spring.

Three years later and both Thornton and Lowery are still head of their respective programs.

And tonight Goshen and Brantley meet at Eagles Stadium for a spring preseason match up of two of the top football programs in southeast Alabama last season.

Brantley was bullying its way over foes when they ran into a tough, fired-up Goshen team that Friday night in September ’99. The Bulldogs would go on to claim a 14-9 victory, but Goshen would garner a measure of respect. The Eagles gave the Bulldogs their closest scare of the season, before Brantley fell to Courtland in the Class 1A State Championship game.

Thornton’s Eagles suffered through a 4-6 campaign that year and missed out on the playoffs following a loss to Luverne in the final game.

However, Goshen showed signs of a program on its way up last season, posting a 10-2 record in Thornton’s second year.

But Brantley, a perennial state title contender, was exposed at times in 2000 and, like Goshen, was knocked out of the state playoffs in the second round. The Bulldogs also got pushed around by in-county rival Highland Home in a lopsided loss, the first time Brantley has dropped a game to the Flying Squadron in years.

Thornton said tonight’s game against Brantley will be played like a regular season football game except the clock will be stopped only on a change of possession.

"It’ll be like we’re running the football all the time," he said.

Thornton also said he doesn’t know how good the Bulldogs are supposed to be this season.

"I’m more worried about us," he said. "We’ve got to find the kids that are going to step up and play in the fall and that search begins with this scrimmage. It’s just a wait and see process."

The Eagles will be thin depth-wise tonight with a number of players out due to injury, including top returning tailback Clarence Bean who is still recovering from a knee injury.

However, Thornton said junior fullback Raymond McNabb, out for a majority of the spring with a knee problem as well, should see playing time tonight.

"We only have 27 kids and that includes the players that’s hurt," Thornton said. "But we only had 29 last season at this time of the year."

Kickoff for tonight’s scrimmage with the Bulldogs is 7:30 p.m.