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For the Fourth Consecutive Year, Autauga Academy and Escambia Academy will play for the Alabama Independent School Association’s Class AA State Championship

By Tim Gayle

The battle for AISA supremacy is reminiscent of the annual college championship matchups between Alabama and Clemson. Autauga Academy senior tight end Dominique Webster likes that comparison.

“I compare our team to Alabama every year,” Webster said. “When they win, we win. And when they lose, we lose.”

Which is to say, there haven’t been a lot of losses. The Generals beat Escambia in 2016 and 2018 and lost in 2017. And if they hope to win in 2019, they likely will need a big play or two out of Webster.

“Coach (Bobby) Carr has been telling me since my ninth-grade year, when you’re a champion, you’re at the top,” Webster said at the beginning of the year. “There are always people that will climbing up to the top to try and knock you off. You’ve got to just keep climbing. Last year’s team left a legacy for us to carry on to the next year so that’s what we’ve got to try and do.”

Webster doesn’t play a lot – senior starters usually don’t see playing time in the second half of blowouts – but makes a pretty big impact when he’s on the field. He has 16 receptions for 320 yards and four touchdowns (an average of 20 yards per catch), drawing attention from mid-level schools such as Florida Atlantic, UAB, South Alabama and Southern Mississippi.

“They’ve seen his film and he’s long,” Carr said. “You can’t teach his length. He’s athletic. He runs a 4.6 40 at 6-foot-4, 208 pounds. Southern Miss likes him at outside ‘backer. Most of the others like him at tight end. They want to see him put on some weight, but he’s a talent and he’s going to make somebody a good player.”

Webster said he narrowed his finalists to five schools, but declined to name them. With just 16 catches this season, he knows he has to make the most out of every opportunity.

“All my life, I already know how Coach Carr’s offense is,” Webster said. “A lot of plays aren’t designed to go to me, they’re designed for a specific player, a specific route runner. But the whole season has been tough with having just eight games this year and not a lot of home games.”

His physique and his style of play are reminiscent of another Autauga Academy receiver, OJ Howard.

“Lane Kiffin even said that he looked like a young OJ Howard,” Carr said. “Once he fills out, I think he could be that guy.”

“I hear it a lot but I try not to compare myself,” Webster said. “I try to be me and do what I can.”

Webster has played a handful of plays in each game at defensive end this season, generally on third down. In 10 games, he has 43 tackles, 5.5 sacks and six tackles for loss, along with a 32-yard fumble return for a touchdown.

“If they want me on defense for a specific amount of time, I’ll go play that position,” Webster said. “If he needs me to do a certain thing on offense, I’m willing to do that. Anything to help the team out. The defensive side of the ball definitely adds a little more enthusiasm to my game play so that’s why I like defense. But offense, I feel like that’s where I’ll make most of my money at the next level.”

He might make an impact on either side in Friday’s championship bout, part IV.

“Since we won the game 49-0 last year, I know they’re going to come out fired up, ready to play, hitting us in the mouth,” Webster said. “I know our coaches have a really good game plan for us, we’ve just got to execute. This is the fourth year in a row so they kind of know some of the things we do and we know some of the things that they do, so it’s going to be a really good game, a fun one to watch.”