Skip to content

A blizzard on Snow Road? Mary Montgomery is a contender

Mary G. Montgomery’s defense made it a miserable night for star Foley receiver Perry “Uno” Thompson Friday night. Here, six Vikings swarm around the five-star receiver during MGM’s 28-7 victory in Semmes. The Vikings’ defense now leads all Class 7A teams against the score, allowing only 5.3 points per game. (Helen Joyce/Call News)

SEMMES — The grizzled Viking painted on the finely manicured midfield grass at Grider Stadium has seen bad nights in his time. People have trampled on his nose and bent his horns askew and his hair has turned snow white waiting for this moment in history.

Better check for snow in Hades, or snow on Snow Road, for as was trumpeted by a symphony of Gjallarhorns after Friday night’s 28-7 victory over Foley, Mary G. Montgomery is a contender, a championship-caliber Class 7A program and, aside from Saraland, the best high school football team in the entire south part of the state.

This should not be a surprise by now, although some still whisper in the face of success, afraid of waking up the haunts of years past.

But not Vikings coach Zach Golson, whose presence on the sideline instills assurances MGM expects to win any game, anywhere. Doubt no longer exists.

“Enjoy it. You worked for it. You deserve it,” Golson told his team Friday night after the first game between ranked teams on property where folks used to shoot more rabbits than win football games.

Later, after sending his players into the night to enjoy it, Golson expressed pride in the attitude which has been built into what was, before he arrived, the 7A program with the most losing seasons in state history (51).

“It’s been the same way from day one,” Golson said. “We’re trying to be the best we can be. If we’re 0-4, we say the same thing. If we’re 3-0, we say the same thing.”

The Vikings started 0-4 in Golson’s first season. Now they have won nine straight regular-season games, are 3-0 and working toward peaking at the right time, when it’s much colder.

There were some murmurs late Friday night that MGM should have beaten the Lions worse. Foley’s Deric Scott, himself a championship coach, disagreed, saying his team beat itself with four turnovers and blown coverages, as if nobody else was on the field creating or collecting the turnovers and perhaps causing defensive confusion with well-crafted routes and throws.

It cannot be underestimated, not even by the highly respected Scott, how good the Vikings’ defense is and how well it ensnared two of the state’s best players — five-star receiver and Auburn commitment Perry Thompson and running back Kolton Nero, the state’s leading rusher.

Because of them, the Lions’ offense was off to its best start (scoring 82 points in the first two games) since the 1961 state championship team quarterbacked by future legendary Foley coach Lester Smith scored 86 points in its first two games.

Thompson could not be identified by his jersey number — 1 — because it was obscured by the gang of MGM black shirts he wore like a circus tent.

Bracketed by cornerback Jariell Lett and safeties Shondell Harris and Jaylen Gray, Thompson’s night evolved into trying to grab short throws on second and third and long. Quarterback Nelson Thompson went to him four times on first down for a grand total of 4 yards before the player known as “Uno” disappeared into the aforementioned swarm of dos, tres, quattro, cinco and even seis defenders who held him to five catches for 11 yards.

“They’re a lot better defensively than last year,” Scott allowed.

In fact, Mary Montgomery is now the No. 1 defense in Class 7A against the score (5.3 points per game).

Nero still leads the state with 717 rushing yards after the 119 he got against the Vikings but he never hurt MGM despite all the defensive attention flowing to numeral Uno.

That’s because the Lions’ massive offensive line — which averages 328 pounds per man and had to stop at a weigh station on the way to the game — was consistently beaten to the point of attack by the Vikings’ faster and more physical defensive front seven.

“We hit them in the mouth,” said MGM linebacker Devin Pettway, who had 11 tackles and two interceptions, one a pick-six.

Skol, defense.

There were a lot of what-ifs for Foley; there always are in big games. But let’s play along:

What if the Lions had played perfectly? What if they didn’t bust two early coverages, as Scott said? What if Nero hadn’t fumbled to Harris after an 11-yard gain to set up the Vikings’ second touchdown? What if Nelson Thompson, who rarely had a moment’s peace, hadn’t thrown two interceptions late in the first half that resulted in 14 MGM points?

But the what-ifs can be played both ways. What if Harris hadn’t fumbled after a 76-yard kickoff return? What if the Vikings had scored after four other trips into Lions territory or run more than three plays in the third quarter? What if Golson had not been forced to play sophomore roulette at left guard, using Brayden Gartman and Eric Griffin for the injured Grant Houseknecht, also a sophomore? What if Golson had not ridden the brakes in the second half with a 28-0 halftime lead?

Mary Montgomery didn’t even need the artistry of star quarterback Jared Hollins, a smiling font of genuine faith who paints crosses on his face and masterful strokes on the field. He threw two touchdown passes in the first quarter, then was holstered in the second half with only one throw, although it was a deep one, as if to remind Foley the threat was still there.

Instead, MGM showed the balance which will make it difficult for anybody in 7A to deal with. Troy Flowers carried 16 times for 127 yards, almost as much as he had all last season (138 in four games), when he was beset by injury.

“Troy had a great game,” Hollins said.

The Lions should not be dismissed and the Vikings will look back on the victory as a satisfying one over a good team. Foley will be in the playoffs and Scott wants his team ready for a rematch.

“I’d love to,” said Scott, who will correct the mistakes his team made.

But it is an error for anyone to think the Zach Attack beat Foley just because of the Lions’ charitableness or that MGM is a paper Viking. While Mary Montgomery knows it must prove itself each game, the Vikings are unconcerned by what the rest of the state thinks of them. They want to earn respect, not have it awarded like a free hamburger.

“Regardless of what that is, it’s rat poison,” said Hollins, channeling a favorite pronouncement of Nick Saban’s. “We’ve got to show up and do the same things every time. Every time you step on the field is a new opportunity and we’ve got to take the fullest advantage of every opportunity. If we play our ball, we’ll be fine.”

How fine?

“We can go all the way if we keep playing hard,” Flowers said.

MGM is 13-2-1 all-time when ranked and such continued success might force some reshuffling of the trophy case on Snow Road. Next thing you know, there might be a blizzard there in December.

Leave a Comment