The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

October 18, 2013

‘D’ the key for Wildcats’ turnaround

By Jonathan Deal

— At this point last year, West Limestone had an outside shot of making the playoffs. But a lot of things had to fall into place. A lot of things didn’t.

Entering tonight’s game against Priceville, West controls its playoff fate.

“This is obviously a big game,” said West Limestone head coach David Arnsparger. “If we win this game, that should ensure us a place in the playoffs. That’s always a motivating factor.”

It will also be a motivating factor for Priceville, which turned things around in head coach Dirk Strunk’s third year. The Bulldogs are 4-3 entering tonight’s contest after winning five games total in his first two seasons.

“Their quarterback is a playmaker,” said Arnsparger. “They want the ball in his hands. They run the veer, but do a good job of passing the ball, too.”

Priceville quarterback Kaleb Barker threw for more than 300 yards and four touchdowns in a 56-45 loss to Haleyville last week. The sophomore quarterback has run for nearly 800 yards and thrown for more than 1,000 so far this season.

West Limestone was able to outlast Barker and Priceville last season in a 49-41 victory. That win gave the Wildcats their fourth of the season. Arnsparger’s senior-laden team rides a four-game winning streak and much-improved defense into Priceville tonight.

“We’ve got a lot of experienced players this year that have started for a couple of years,” said Arsnparger. “Coach McDaniel has done a great job with the defensive game plan.”

The Wildcats’ defense has cut its points allowed per game in half in 2013. In 10 games last year, West Limestone gave up just over 35 points per game. Through seven games this season, that figure is at 18.

Senior linebacker Tucker McCormick is just one of the Wildcats to step it up. The three-year starter is already approaching 100 tackles for the year.

“Tucker McCormick is having a phenomenal year,” said Arnsparger. “He had an interception return for a touchdown last week in the third quarter when we needed it.”

McCormick and the rest of the Wildcat defenders are in for a battle against a Bulldog team that has averaged 44 points per game over the past three games.

West Limestone and Priceville kick off at 7 tonight from Priceville High School.