Jeff Davis coach Lee Carter and G.W. Carver coach Billy Gresham are used to going against each other, but they’ve always been on the same team.
The two played together at Alabama State. But with Carter being a fullback, and Gresham being a linebacker, the two often found themselves colliding.
Even when they coached together at Carver, Carter’s offense and Gresham’s defense would duel it out in practice.
But since Carter — who was the Wolverines’ offensive coordinator last season — became the head coach at Jeff Davis, this is the first time the two friends had battled as opponents.
“It was a real emotional deal,” Gresham said. “Me and him are like best friends. It was a tough deal for our families and kids, but it was a great deal for the city of Montgomery. We’re just happy that we came out on top, and he’s doing a great job other there.”
After jumping out to a touchdown lead in the first quarter, the Vols seemed to have the Wolverines on their heels. But Carver was able to capitalize on second-half mistakes and run away with the 39-6 rivalry win at Cramton Bowl on Thursday night.
The Wolverines couldn’t seem to get going in the first quarter. Junior quarterback Mike McKenny, who played in place of Draequon Murhphy who had shoulder bursitis, threw three interceptions in the opening period.
“It’s just a part of having a young group,” Gresham said. “These guys just have to come out with a sense of urgency. It’s almost the opposite from last year when we would jump out, and you had to fuss them to finish the game out. These guys start slow, but they come out in the second half ready to play. We just have to learn how to find that balance and play all four quarters.”
The Volunteers’ defense did a good job of shutting down the Carver offense, but special teams mistakes did them in.
Jeff Davis fumbled two snaps on punt attempts on consecutive possessions to give Carver the ball inside the 5-yard line. The Wolverines quickly scored touchdowns and stretched a seven-point halftime lead to a 27-6 margin.
“It was 13-7, and you should be excited that you’re fighting that close and have that edge,” Carter said. “I tried talking to them twice at halftime, and it was like we were content with just hanging in there. We didn’t get a couple punts off and just lost it. We’ll keep fighting though, we’re not going to quit.”
Despite the big loss, Carter insists there are no hard feelings between he and his former colleagues.
He is hosting a get together with his friends from both the Carver and Jeff Davis staffs. on Saturday night for the Floyd Mayweather-Saul Alvarez fight.
Carter had previously said if he lost the game, then the Carver coaches would have to bring their own food.
“You’re not going to beat my tail and eat my food too,” Carter said.
But Carter softened up after the game.
“Ah, I’ll feed them,” Carter said. “For these next 365 days, I’ve got to live with it. They’ll all be over at my house on Saturday, so I know I’ll hear about it. He took it to us. He’s a great coach, he’s a great friend of mine. But I’ll get him next year.”