Theodore and Spanish Fort are expecting a Class 6A, Region 1 physical battle Friday night

Since Spanish Fort began playing college football in 2016, the Toros have each played at least once at 15 of the 22 high schools located in Mobile County.

One of the exceptions? Theodore. These two schools have never played.

That changes Friday night on the Hill when the fifth-ranked Bobcats (4-0) travel to face Spanish Fort in a key Class 6A, Region 1 game.

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“I feel like our kids are going to see an opportunity to play against a really good opponent, and I don’t think they’re going to back down,” Toros first-year coach Chase Smith said this week on Sports Talk 99.5 FM in Mobile. . “It looks like it will be a hard-fought, tight-knit type game. It’s good football. That’s what we expect here. »

Theodore, playing in Class 6A for the first time since AHSAA increased to seven rankings in 2014, is 3-0 in Region 1 play with the toughest part of his schedule remaining at to play. Following Friday’s game on the Hill, the Bobcats travel to take on Class 7A Opelika in an out-of-region game next week and host No. 3-ranked Saraland on Oct. 21. Blount, McGill-Toolen and St. Paul’s are also still on the second half of the slate.

“If you look at our schedule, it’s definitely tough from now on,” Theodore’s coach Eric Collier said.

Spanish Fort are 2-1 in regional play after last week’s 35-24 loss at Saraland, but Smith said he liked the progress he’s seen from his team in the first four weeks of the season.

“The kids did exactly what we asked them to do,” Smith said. “They play with effort. We didn’t see the effort I felt capable of at first. Every week we have improved and as a head coach that is what you want to see. I think the work ethic is improving, our attention to detail is improving. We just need to see this more every week. Really, my challenge for them is not to plateau, but to keep improving. The effort, purpose and passion are there.

Theodore won this year like Collier always has with the Bobcats — running the football and playing defense. Theodore has beaten his opponents 156-16 this season. No one has scored more than 13 points against the Bobcats.

“Coach Collier did a great job,” Smith said. “They are a very good program and have had great success in the past and so far. They’re just really, really physical. They won’t mess around. They’re not going to have a lot of smoke and mirrors. They’ll run into you. It’s a real blue-collar mindset.

This year, that mindset is centered on senior running back Brayden Jenkins. The 5-foot-9, 175-pound standout rushed for 568 yards and 8 touchdowns on 55 carries, averaging 10.3 yards per carry.

“He’s totally different from most guys we’ve had in the past,” Collier said. “He’s not as tall, but he has phenomenal vision. He’s probably the best I’ve ever trained to have that ability to put his foot in the ground and get back up. He has a knack for indoor games.

Jenkins also impressed Smith.

“He’s a very good football player,” he said. “Dynamic, elusive, difficult to approach. He has the sense to run between tackles. They have a power racing game. It’s kind of their mantra and their attitude, and he does it well. This team knows exactly what their identity is and exactly what their coaches are asking them to do and that’s what you’re going to get from them.

Spanish Fort’s Jake Godfrey looks for a running lane against Saraland on Friday, September 9, 2022. (Helen Joyce | contributed)

Collier sees a lot of similarities in his team and the team at Spanish Fort. Against Saraland last week, the Toros used both Brayden Walker and UAB commitment Jake Godfrey at quarterback and took advantage of the stretch run game with Sawyer Wilson breaking two long runs for touchdowns.

“I think they’ve found their niche,” Collier said. “They’re a pure stretch team, and they do a great job with that. Defensively, they are physical and will come after you. Honestly, we’re a lot alike.

Both coaches are expecting a tight game on Friday night.

“Most of these games – when the teams are roughly even – come down to about five games,” Smith said. “Will it be a special teams game or mainly defensive or attacking? It is to be determined. We have to be prepared when the opportunity arises to make an explosive play in attack, to gain an advantage in defense or to make a dynamic play in special teams. We have to win these games.

Both teams must also avoid anticipating next week’s clashes.

In addition to Theodore’s trip to the #3 Class 7A Opelika, Spanish Fort will host rival Daphne.

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