By the time you read this, you’ll know the score of last night’s North Jackson-Arab football game. Unless there’s an upset of monumental proportions, you’ll also know that North Jackson won the game to complete an undefeated season.
Arab coach Oscar Glasscock was realistic in the hours before the game. He knew his team faced a near-impossible task against a squad that has outscored its opponents on average, 64-9.
The Chiefs are ranked sixth in Class 4A in this week’s state sports writers’ poll but have to be con-sidered one of the fav-orites to win the 4A title.
“If they were in our (5A) region, they’d win it,” Glasscock said.
Glasscock isn’t the only coach saying that these days. DAR coach Joel Poole was in Arab for breakfast Friday morning, and he said the same thing. His team actually has played the Chiefs the toughest this season, scoring 41 points in a 34-point loss.
It was one of three games in which North Jackson scored more than 70 points.
“You’ll see some things (Friday night) you haven’t seen all season,” Poole predicted.
But Glassock was thinking about more than North Jackson on Friday. He was thinking about the improvement his players have made at all levels and in many areas since spring drills, despite losing several key players to season-ending injuries along the way.
“Most of our players have gained weight since spring,” Glasscock said. “They’re getting bigger and stronger. Some of our younger kids have put on enough weight that we’ve been able to play them (in varsity action).”
Since the team started using practice weeks as essentially off-season workouts several weeks ago, there has not been another season-ending injury, Glasscock noted.
“We haven’t had any serious concussion issues, either,” he added.
But even more than physical improvements, the players are advancing in other key areas, too, according to Glasscock.
“One of my favorite and proudest moments of the season happened in the JV game at Albertville on Monday,” he said. “Near the end of the game, Amerion Bullock made an interception that pretty much sealed the win.”
It wasn’t the interception that made Glasscock proud, though he was pretty happy about that. But what made him happier was to see the reaction of the other players on the field.
“The other 10 guys on the field just sprinted to Amerion and celebrated the play he just made,” Glasscock said. “That’s so important and I told the varsity players, that’s the kind of spirit we need.
“Celebrate and show emotion for your teammates when they do something good on the field. It’s a team game. You have to support your teammates and come together as a group, whether it’s football or any group.
“That’s what makes you successful. And we’re doing a lot better with that since the start of the season.”
• Arab volleyball coach Cassie Daniels-Mullinax made a similar observation about her team’s performance during two matches on Wednesday in the state tournament at Birmingham.
In some of the areas of concern she’s had with her team this season, she saw real improvement. That’s satisfying for any coach in any sport. You can’t win them all, but if you’re not getting better, as the saying goes, you’re getting worse.
At the end of the season, Arab was getting better, according to Mullinax. That makes her feel encouraged about the future despite losing superstar Anna Katherine Griggs.
AK, by the way, made the all-tournament team.
“That’s pretty impressive, being on a team that didn’t make the final,” Mullinax said.
• Best wishes also go out to Cassie’s dad, Bobby, who won a state championship finally after coming so close, so many times.
I really enjoyed working with him while he was at Arab and there’s no one more deserving of what his Jasper team accomplished for him on Thursday.
In case you didn’t know it – I didn’t until Friday morning – the quarterback who led the San Francisco 49ers to a blowout win over Oakland on Thursday night played his high school ball at Spain Park.
Turns out, Nick Mullens became an overnight sensation, especially when he got emotional when Erin Andrews interviewed him after the game.
Consider these stats:
• Mullens’ passer rating of 151.9 was the best by a quarterback making his debut with at least 20 attempts since 1970.
• That passer rating was the highest by a 49er since Alex Smith had a rating of 157.1 on Oct. 29, 2012.
• Mullens joined Marc Bulger, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Marcus Mariota as the only players over the past 25 seasons to throw for three or more touchdowns in their first game, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
• Mullens is the first player since Carson Wentz to throw for a touchdown in his first career game on the team’s opening drive, and one of four to do it in the past 15 seasons, along with Wentz, Mariota and Matt Ryan.
• Mullens joined Fran Tarkenton (1961) and Jim Kelly (1986) as the only quarterbacks to throw for 250-plus yards, three-plus touchdowns and no interceptions in an NFL debut since 1950.
He’s a Cinderella story, indeed.