E.A. Sports Today

Piedmont’s one focus (and it’s not on No. 1 — yet)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Piedmont plays two seismic games over the next seven days, but there’s only one coach Steve Smith wants his team concentrating its focus.

Suffice to say the only thing close to “Leeds” the third-ranked Bulldogs’ coach wants to hear this week is the “lead” his team will be working to get Friday night at Glencoe.

Next Thursday’s home game against the potential No. 1 team in Class 4A has a lot of pop to it, but this week’s Class 3A Region 6 showdown against the fifth-ranked Yellow Jackets is a whole lot more important.

“Region games are the games you play that are most important,” Smith said. “This is the best Glencoe team I’ve played since I’ve been at Piedmont … and we’ve got to go on the road to their place.

“We’ve just been preaching focusing on getting better every day this week, better ourselves and do what we can to make the team more successful, learn as much about them as we possibly can and make sure we have the team prepared for Friday.

“Sure, there’s excitement around the game, but if we weren’t 3-5 in the rankings Piedmont-Glencoe is still a rivalry game. We look forward to the opportunity to go up against a quality opponent.”

The game has upper hand in the region written all over it. If Glencoe wins, the Yellow Jackets will be in the driver’s seat for the region title having already beaten Wellborn, arguably the third-best team in the region. Piedmont plays at Wellborn Oct. 10.

In terms of historical importance, Smith equates Friday’s game to any of the big region road games the Bulldogs have played over the years with a favorable position in the standings on the line. Last year, they crushed Glencoe 41-7 and lost to Saks 40-15. (Shhh, they also beat Leeds on the road in a non-conference game.)

The Bulldogs lost to an aggressive 4A Dadeville team in the high-profile Champions Challenge exhibition in Montgomery the week before their regular-season opener. Since the games started counting, however, they have won three games by a combined score of 143-38.

“Dadeville is a really, really good team; that was a pretty tough assignment coming out of the box,” Smith said. “What I’ve been most proud of is how our group has jelled and made progress each and every week and bettered themselves. It’s been a lot of fun to see them come together defensively every game.

“It’s been a fun team to coach. So far this season they’ve been very attentive to maximum effort and they don’t think they supposed to lose. That’s a neat thing, to be able to roll out on the field with a group of guys who think they are supposed to beat whoever they’re playing.”

FOSTER FEELING IT: The day before his team left for fall camp Donoho’s versatile Justin Foster told East Alabama Sports Today he was prepared to declare his college choice on Sept. 25. The rationale: His birthday is in September and his uniform number is 25.

Now, with the date fast approaching, it’s 50-50 on whether that’s when the announcement is made.

“As the weeks go by I’ve been thinking about it really hard,” Foster said. “It’s going to be a big decision in my life because when you think about it, it’s going to change the next four or five years in my life. I’ve been talking about it with my parents, with my coaches. I’m not sure I’m fully ready to do it that day or not. It’s 50-50.”

Foster has added Ohio and Jacksonville State to his list of finalists that initially included Samford, Georgia State and South Alabama. He’s going to Samford this weekend.

His choice ultimately will be made based as much on his life’s future as football. Ohio is in the mix, he said, because its two best known majors are fields he wants to study.

“The decision is a lot harder than I thought it would be,” he said. “It’s a really big decision. I think about academics, then I put sports in, then the type of community I want to be in. … You just have to take it all into consideration. It’s important to take my time.”

Foster is an impact player on both sides of the ball for the undefeated Falcons (3-0), ranked No. 7 in the Class 1A poll this week. He’s a force on a defense that has yet to allow a point this season and already has people making comparisons to the 2006 unit that allowed only nine points in the regular season and posted eight straight shutouts.

“I know a bunch of players from that team,” he said, “and I know they held teams to nine points” and scored more than 400.

And which of those numbers is most impressive?

“To me, the 9,” Foster said. “As long as they don’t score on you, you can’t lose.”

The Falcons (3-0, 2-0) host undefeated Winterboro (3-0, 1-0) in an important Region 5 game Friday.

SITE CHANGE: Jacksonville principal Rick Carter reported via social media the Golden Eagles’ Sept. 26 non-conference game with Butler has been switched to Jacksonville at 7 p.m. It originally was scheduled to be played in Huntsville at 4.

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