Two youngsters who shared a biology class at Jacksonville State University in
1987 probably never dreamed that 20 years after leaving their alma mater they
would share the same interview room following a state championship game as head
coaches on opposing teams.
But Saturday night, in the media room under the north end zone of
Birmingham's Legion Field, Bill Clark of Prattville High School and John Grass
of Spain Park High School met with sports reporters to answer questions about
the results of the 2007 Class 6A finals.
Clark took no credit himself, giving it all to his players ands assistant
coaches. Grass acknowledged his team's effort and praised his former
classmate's team for winning their second consecutive state title. It proved to
be an emotional scene for the longtime friends and former classmates.
"We had our hands full," Grass said. "Prattville's two defensive lineman
(Greg McCall and Jarvis Nixon) are good players. We had a hard time keeping
them out of our backfield. We had a hard time blocking those two guys.
"Prattville took away our running game and forced us to throw more than
normal. We had some good pass protection, but their defense is pretty good. They
are not the No. 2 team in the nation for nothing."
But Grass couldn't help thinking what might have been, had his team not made
a handful of crucial mistakes.
"There were several keys plays in the game," he said. "If we had made one of
the field goals, who knows? It could have made a difference. We had a couple of
passes overthrown. I felt like if we could have gotten one of those we might
have had a chance.
"We talked about getting the game to the fourth quarter and we weren't able
to do that."
Clark was measured in his comments but offered up strong praise for his team
and the way they were able to handle their assignments.
"We knew they were physical up front and that our defense would have to step
up," Clark said. "This year's defensive team may just be the best one we have
ever had here.
"My hat is off to those guys, and to our coaches. We had a great fourth
quarter, with our offense controlling the football. It was a team effort, and I
can't say how proud I am of the seniors. They were the leaders on this team and
they made it happen."
Clark said the ability of his team to overcome adversity made a big
difference down the stretch.
"We had some key injuries during the season, yet we were able to overcome
those," he said. "Justin (Albert) played hurt tonight where many kids wouldn't
have played. He wanted to be a part of the team. It is what we teach -- a team
effort, a family, and I am very proud of every one of them. They started talking
about this game back in January when the offseason programs began. They worked
unselfishly for this opportunity."
Clark said he understood the significance of the accomplishment, and thanked
parents and fans for their support of the team.
"Its not often you get the opportunity to win state championships much less
have an opportunity to win it back to back," he said. "This one is for our
community, for our fans and all those who support our
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