After watching several dropped touchdowns in a loss by his young receivers, Edgewood football coach Bobby Carr could’ve easily shrugged it off.
With perhaps one of his most inexperienced groups in recent years, Carr’s skilled players looked like deer in headlights against Class 6A Wetumpka during Thursday’s opening matchup at Faulkner’s second annual 7-on-7 tournament.
But in typical Carr fashion, the veteran coach offered an ear full to his group.
“I guess the first game we had a lot of jitters,” Edgewood quarterback Taylor Hawthorne said. “It just seemed that we were a little bit nervous because it was Wetumpka. Coach pretty much told us to put our big boy pants on and play better.”
The talk ultimately worked.
Edgewood bounced back to go undefeated the rest of the day en route to claiming the eight-team tournament, which featured several local AHSAA schools. The tournament was previously scheduled for 12 teams, but harsh weather conditions kept squads from Birmingham and Georgia away.
“We showed great character,” said Josh Crawford, a junior running back. “We battled through adversity with us catching no balls in the first game to winning it all; we just fought through it.”
The Wildcats didn’t allow Shaw High (Ga.) to discover the end zone during the title game.
“These young guys really grew up,” said Carr, who had led Edgewood to four AISA state championships in five seasons. “To as bad as we played against Wetumpka, to how we finished at the end, just shows me a lot about these guys that we have.
“Hopefully, we can keep building off of this because we’re extremely young this year. The more we play, the better we’ll get.”
Edgewood — which lost two record-setting players to graduation — was clearly the smallest team entering the tournament. Schools like Shaw, Wetumpka, Trinity and Elmore County, among others, had a handful of skilled players to run out on both sides of the ball, while the Wildcats primarily used theirs both ways.
“We had six of our guys playing both ways,” said Carr, whose team currently holds the state’s longest winning streak at 31. “The thing is with bigger schools, they have more numbers. Everybody that we played had an entire offense and defense. For our athletes to match up with their athletes just says an awful lot about the talent that we have here.”