By Bobby Mathews, sports editor
LEEDS — It’s strength on strength this Friday night when undefeated, fourth-ranked Leeds (3-0, 1-0) and Moody (3-0, 1-0) meet in a 5A Region 6 matchup with playoff implications.
For Moody, the offense has been a strength all season, with junior quarterback A.J. Wallace throwing for 578 yards and 12 touchdowns through three games. The Blue Devils’ signal caller has also rushed for 309 yards so far this season.
“They’re a talented team,” Leeds head coach Jerry Hood said. “They’ve got a quarterback who can really get the ball out, and one of the underrated things about him is that he really runs well. They’re explosive, for sure.”
But Leeds’ defense has been stout early on, gutting out wins like a 19-13 victory over a tough Lincoln team to earn their first region victory. They also shut out Pell City and only allowed 20 points in their opener against Sylacauga.
“I expect to see two teams playing really well,” Moody head coach Adam Wallace said. “I think the big difference is going to be the battle up front. Whoever wins that has a good chance to win the game.”
Leeds has a strong set of defenders, such as Kavion Henderson and Tucker Summers along the defensive line, as well as C.J. Douglas, who will move around defensively, playing everything from safety to linebacker. But Hood was careful to point out that every member of the defense will be required to stop the Blue Devils’ explosive offense.
“Listen,” Hood said. “It’s all about how these guys continue to play together. It’s all of us fitting correctly on each play. We have to play team football. You have to read your keys and do your job. That’s what it comes down to.”
That said, the Blue Devils have to be prepared for the Green Wave’s defensive push.
“We believe in our offensive line,” Wallace said. “They’ve been playing very well. But we also have to be aware of where No. 6 (Henderson) is, especially if they start moving him around.”
One thing that gets lost when talking about a resurgent Moody program: The Blue Devils’ defense has played very well, too. Over the course of three games, the closest anyone has come to defeating Moody was John Carroll, who still lost by 20 points, 34-14.
“We’re playing well on offense, but our defense is getting better every game,” Wallace said. “Our coaches are making good adjustments, and our players are responding. Our kids have gained a lot of confidence.”
Offensively, the Green Wave will continue to lean on junior quarterback Jarod Latta and wideout Josh Ruff. Rametrius Yelverton will carry the load at tailback.
For his part, Hood recognizes the hard work that the Moody team has put in, because he’s seen it with the players at Leeds. The Green Wave players have responded and are in the process of building something special.
“We’ve done a good job of coming from where we were just a few years ago,” Hood said. “We’ve got miles to go to improve, but I’m very proud of where we are as a program.”
In 2020, the Green Wave won eight straight after losing their opener to Sylacauga and beat Moody 55-20 before going on to secure the No. 2 playoff spot in Region 6, behind Alexandria.