The memory of am underwhelming 2018 season followed the Guntersville Wildcats football team into the 2019 season.
In 2018, the Wildcats led in three games at the half that ended up resulting in losses. Of those many close games last season, the Boaz game was not one of them.
The Pirates defeated Guntersville 42-19 in 2018. That score would live in the minds of Guntersville coaches and players throughout the off-season. On Friday night, the Guntersville was able to restore order to the Wildcat universe by knocking off the Pirates 28-19.
“Boaz is a county rival and also a good team,” Guntersville head coach Lance Reese said following the win, “It was really great to see our guys go on the road and get a win. We didn’t play to the Guntersville standard last year, and that’s been a point of motivation for us all off-season.”
The Wildcats took the field Friday night with a quarterback who had been on the team all of one month, but anyone examining the Guntersville sideline at Boaz wouldn’t have thought the team was being led by a new face.
Senior quarterback Zac Burnett took the field Friday night at Boaz with his new teammates in the first game of the season. Guntersville won the coin toss, elected to receive and after just six plays and 75 yards later, the Wildcats led Boaz 7-0. Guntersville would never trail, although there was no quit in the Pirates.
Guntersville started the game with a quick strike from Burnett to Cooper Davidson that went for 10 yards. It was the first connection of the game between the sophomore and senior but not the last. Burnett would finish the drive with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Jack Harris.
Sophomore running back Logan Pate was slated to assume quarterback duties before Burnett transferred to Guntersville. With the addition of Burnett, Pate now takes on the primary running back duties with junior Jarrell Williamson. Pate ran for 24 yards in the Wildcat’s first offensive possession and ended the game with 50 yards rushing and a touchdown.
Guntersville struck first and then struck again. With four minutes left in the first quarter the Wildcats led 13-0. Boaz would put seven points on the board before the end of the first quarter when Kadin Benefield took off for a 70-yard touchdown run.
Burnett hooked up with Harris again before halftime on a 24 -yard touchdown pass to give Guntersville a 22-7 lead at the half.
Guntersville would score one more time in the second half when Williamson pushed it in from three yards out late in the third quarter.
Williamson ended the game with 66 yards rushing. Davidson led the way in the receiving with 10 catches for just over 90 yards. Burnett ended the game with 280 yards passing and two touchdowns.
“Zac has come in and quickly developed a relationship with the team,” Reese said. “He’s a team first kind of guy and the players around him have fit into their roles. Logan (Pate) played very well also.”
Boaz gained 287 total yards in the game. A handful of big plays skewed the total yards a tad.
“I thought our defensive line played very well,” Reese said. “We’ve got some work do to when it comes to limiting big plays, but I thought over all our defensive unit played pretty well.”
The offensive line was a concern for the Guntersville coaching staff coming into the 2019 season. The issues Reese wanted to remedy seemed to show up in the jamboree against North Jackson in the way of balls being snapped over the quarterback’s head. No such issues occurred against Boaz.
“We knew we had some things to fix, and I feel like we did a decent job of identifying those,” Reese said. “Our assistant coaches have done an excellent job of fixing small problems. I feel like the offensive line had a great outing against Boaz. I’m proud of that group.”
Guntersville starts the season with a win and will now move its attention to Madison County. The Wildcats will take on Madison County at home Friday with kickoff set for 7 p.m.
“I’m proud of the entire team after the Boaz win,” Reese said. “We’ve still got things to work on, but I feel like we did a lot of good things that we can build off of. Madison County is a well-coached team that always has good athletes. It’s going to be another good challenge for this team.”
These were the stats:
Total yards: 384
First Downs: 20
Total yards: 287
First Downs: 14