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October 22, 2011
Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.
Mobile (Ala.) McGill-Toolen coach Bart Sessions joked at the conclusion of the interview earlier in the week.
The first-year coach didn't want to give any bulletin board material for the National Game of the Week preview story.
"If I said anything that would fire them up, don't run it," he said on Tuesday.
Sessions was set to take on his former boss, and mentor, Glenn Vickery when his Yellowjackets met the Daphne (Ala.) High Trojans - the state's top-ranked team - with the Alabama Class 6A Region 2 title on the line.
Sessions didn't want anything to go wrong.
"Glenn doesn't need to have motivated kids," he said at the time.
With a solid week of practice (and maybe the motivation of of being picked to lose) the still-undefeated McGill-Toolen team scored 24 of the games final 27 points to defeat Daphne, 38-28.
"I think our kids came out and played with a chip on their shoulder for sure" Sessions told RivalsHigh following the victory. "People had us finishing fifth in our region this year so getting picked to lose was just adding to it for us. We feel like we have to earn every bit of respect we gain and I don't think that is going to change come playoff time."
The loss ended Daphne's 23-game winning steak and gave McGill-Toolen the region title. It was a region mentioned as one of the toughest in the country to win in the preseason. The win validates the type of effort the coach asked of his players.
"We know we have to be blue-collar and outwork everyone," he said. "The kids played their guts out tonight and it was from start to finish. We could have gotten down early but everyone kept fighting. The kids, our coaches, our fans."
They had to.
The steady dose of Yeldon would continue as expected.
"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that if we haven't diversified our offense before week nine, it's too late," Vickery told told Al.com. "We're not going to change. T.J. is what we do."
Sessions was not surprised.
"Daphne is a talented team that we could see again," he said. "T.J is a special player and he can do a lot of things, but I think this is a special team we have, too."
McGill-Toolen answered back with a Carl Lee touchdown to tie the game.
After trading touchdowns again, it was Yeldon who scampered for his third of the game and gave Daphne a 21-14 lead with four minutes to play.
It was the last time the Trojans would lead.
McGill-Toolen scored on a Trey Roberts 15-yard run with just over a minute to play in the half to tie the score and then converted a field goal on the final play to go into the break ahead 24-21.
McGill-Toolen came out the better team.
It opened the second half with Jason Smith (the team's quarterback) returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown to increase the lead to 31-21. On its next drive, Roberts punched in his second touchdown of the game to make it a 17-point advantage before the midpoint of the third quarter.
"That opened it up," Sessions said. "It really turned at that point."
For Sessions, it was a major step in the right direction.
His team will be ranked for the first time in the RivalsHigh 100, after receiving consideration but not cracking the rankings in previous weeks. It also has served notice that it is one to be reckoned with in South Alabama - and the nation.
"We have a great team and this is a great region," he said. "We really feel like if your in the Top 10 or Top 5 in Alabama you can play with anyone in the country. And that is being proven each week down here."