The play still sticks in the G.W. Carver players’ minds clearly.
On the 5-yard line and down by a touchdown with less than two minutes remaining in the state semifinals, the Wolverines stood on the doorstep of the state finals.
But instead of the storybook ending the Wolverines were hoping for, Jeremy Johnson’s pass was intercepted in the end zone, and the Bulldogs ran 100 yards for a touchdown to end Carver’s season.
“That was tough,” Carver senior wide receiver Landy Capetillo said. “They put us out of the playoffs. It’s a bad memory. They picked the ball off and ran 100 yards. … I can’t wait.”
Capetillo is eyeing tonight’s rematch at Opelika, and coach Billy Gresham said he’s making sure his team never forgets how that playoff loss felt.
“Our motto this week was ‘Never forget,’ ” Gresham said. “It’s not never forgetting that Opelika beat us, but never forget the shortcomings that we had in the game and how we practiced that week, and how we approached the meetings and weight rooms that week. They’ve done a great job so far.”
The Wolverines (3-0, 2-0 Class 6A, Region 3) know they’ll have their hands full tonight. Opelika’s newly-renovated stadium is expected to be packed to its maximum 8,000 occupants.
Gresham has been blaring music at the practice field and weight room to make sure his team is ready for the first road contest of the season. And to make sure the crowd is as quiet as possible, he wants to take the excitement out of the air early.
“We haven’t been tested like this all year,” Gresham said. “We have a really good group and it’ll be a big test for us and we’ll see how these guys respond. We’re going to come out and lay it a little out there, try to make some big plays early. We want to make sure those Bulldog fans are sitting in those seats, we don’t want them getting up screaming and hollering and barking. That’s our game plan going in.”
Gresham said he’s been working with the offense on a silent count between the center and quarterback, and the defense has been doing some work on its own.
“Me and the other defensive backs have come up with signals for when they come out in different sets we’ll be able to be on line,” junior safety Melvin Tyus said. “We came out with signals since we won’t be able to hear each other. We’ve been talking with each other saying we’re going to have to be on track and be together.”
Carver has started slow in all three of its wins, something Gresham said you can’t do against the reigning Class 6A runner-ups. Playing the Bulldogs on the road without 2012 Mr. Football Jeremy Johnson, the Wolverines are the underdogs for the first time in a long time.
Just fuel for the fire, as if they needed it.
“We’ve started slow,” Capetillo said. “We just have to make sure we move the ball and dominate the player in front of us. As a team, I think we’re ready. We’re going to prove everybody wrong this week.”