Wildcats, Longhorns meet again in finals

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Sports Editor

Football fans at Friday’s 1 p.m. Class AA Championship game may think they’re seeing double.

The reason is that Marengo (8-4) and Wilcox (10-2) look so much alike on offense.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

"It’ll be like a mirror image," said Marengo head coach Jesse Little.

But Little is hoping the game doesn’t mirror the final regular season meeting between these two schools, won by Wilcox 20-7.

"They killed us," he said.

Wildcats’ head coach Chris Burford begs to differ.

"We beat them, but I think they had like five turnovers we were able to take advantage of," he said.

For Burford, a graduate of Wilcox Academy, it will be a second meeting against a school where he coached four seasons prior to taking over as Wildcats’ coach this year.

"It was difficult the first time we played them (Marengo) because I know so many of the kids, coaches and faculty over there," said Burford. "I think this time it’ll be easier because I’ve been through it and it’s in the finals. You just don’t turn off friendships and start hating each other."

Little is hoping his team can pull off a repeat performance of last week’s semifinal win over Sumter. The Longhorns beat Sumter 14-9 to advance to Troy. Sumter was one of four teams to beat Marengo in the regular season.

"We’re excited about getting a chance to play them (Wilcox) again," said Little. "But they’re tough. Maybe there’s a little revenge on our minds, but not much."

But Little insists his team won’t lie down for anyone.

"This is the hardest working team I’ve ever been associated with," he said. "We started conditioning in July and that’s usually when you have people loafing. This team did not loaf. They won’t quit."

Besides the two losses to Sumter and Wilcox, Marengo also lost to AAA powerhouses Mobile Christian and Monroe Academy.

Wilcox’s only two losses of the season came to Mobile and Monroe.

But the two AA finalists were competitive.

The Wildcats lost 16-13 and the Longhorns 17-12 to the top-ranked Volunteers who will make their appearance in the Class AAA title game at 4 p.m. against Bessemer Academy.

Both Marengo and Wilcox feature balanced running attacks, with Whit Lovinggood leading the Wildcats’ charge and Eric Wilkinson heading the Longhorns’ running game.

Lovinggood is just shy of 1,000 yards and is averaging over nine yards a carry on 110 attempts. Jesse Garrett also lines up in the backfield for Wilcox at fullback or halfback. Both runners have scored nine touchdowns.

But Burford feels defense is his team’s biggest strength. Wilcox is giving up just over nine points per game.

"We’re excited about being where we are," he said. "I don’t think many people picked us to come this far. But this team has achieved."