High school football: 3 things we learned during West Alabama spring practice

Jerell Rushin
The Tuscaloosa News

As high school football programs take a break until they return in June, lets take a look at what we learned from spring practice in West Alabama.

Northridge is strong up front

When talking size start with the Northridge offensive line. Junior Baker Hickman is 6-foot-3, 325 pounds, senior Kenton Jerido is 6-foot, 305 pounds and didn't allow a sack in 2020, and junior Wilkin Formby is 6-8, 300 pounds.

In addition there's junior Durham Davis and senior Jayden Joseph. Jerido and Formby hold Group of 5 college offers.

MORE PREP SPORTS: 3 West Alabama football prospects who could blow up on recruiting trail

The unit looked good during their May 21 spring game against American Christian Academy, who lost in the AHSAA 4A state semifinals last season.

It'll be a big help to whoever starts at quarterback  with incumbent Kollyn Shellnut and senior Whitt Winfield battling it out. Winfield has transferred back to Northridge and started at Tuscaloosa Academy last season.

"I thought the competition upped their game a little bit," coach Mike Vickery said. "We'll see where it goes. We spend a lot more time during the summer working on throw game and 7-on-7s and a lot of things we do in the summer, so we're able to make more decisive decisions down the road.

"Both of those kids are really good athletes and really good players and really good kids. They both bring an athleticism to the quarterback position and at any other position. Collin played a lot of wideout tonight and is definitely going to be on the field somewhere."

Quarterback Ethan Crawford throws before Hillcrest High School's spring scrimmage Friday, May 21, 2021. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

Hillcrest will have fun on offense

If 2020 was impressive, this season could be mesmerizing on offense for Hillcrest —  quarterback Ethan Crawford is now a junior.

He passed for 2,062 yards and 22 touchdowns while adding 381 yards and eight touchdowns rushing. Crawford threw the ball well in 2020 and had several impressive outings.

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At the May 21 intrasquad spring game, Crawford through deep balls with ease and said he's worked on his speed.

Expect Hillcrest to have a dynamic offense under new coach Jamie Mitchell, who led a dominant running attack at Shades Valley.

"You’ll see a completely different philosophy here because of the tools that we have," Mitchell said. "In high school you don’t get to recruit so you have what you have. At Shades Valley we were really good up front, had some really good running backs.

"We really struggled at wideout, so we ran the football and ran it very well. Here, obviously, we’ve got a lot of more pieces outside that we’ll utilize and of course the quarterback is a real difference-maker."

Gordo's new field will be ready for kickoff

After one year of playing on Pickens County's field, Friday night football is returning to Gordo. Gordo is already on its $795,000, two-tone Game Day turf, athletic director Byron Fair said.

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The pandemic delayed the turf installation so the Green Wave played their home games eight miles west of campus. Despite the extra mileage, Gordo made the state championship game during its first season in 4A.

Fair said Gordo is reviewing bids on  the track around the field and some  cosmetic work to do.

Follow Jerell Rushin on Twitter @JerellRushin_ and email him at jrushin@gannett.com.