Moody wins a wild one at Rush Propst’s debut in Pell City

There were tricks. There were nerves. Rush Propst threw a full headphone jack at his son in his first game.

High school football made its glorious comeback across the state on Friday night. It felt like the hottest day of the year. Even the mosquitoes were sizzling. Of course, things got a little tense in a town called Moody, but would anyone have expected a different outcome with Sir Probst once again on the sidelines in Alabama?

Propst is located in Biel. His goal is to build the school’s underperforming soccer team into a strong one and then retire. He has assembled a great team of assistants to do just that and the team looks better than anyone could have expected. It’s a wild story, and it officially began Friday night in St. Clair County. Count Moody coach Jake Ganus is among the people who didn’t expect to see Probst — famous for his offensive innovations — crack the triple option for his big comeback to Alabama high school football.

Probst outwitted everyone in his first game in his home state since resigning from Hoover in 2007, and his opening dribble was nearly enough against one of the state’s most talented rookie coaches. Moody was the firm favorite in this. It took some time, but the better team recovered in the second half.

Janus’ so-called “411 Boys” starred when it mattered most.

Behind a raucous home crowd, Moody recovered from a half-time deficit and won the highly anticipated season opener 28-24. Bell City eventually had a chance to win it, but the Moody’s defense sacked visiting midfielder Nikita Getmanchuk to put the game away.

“I’m proud of our guys,” said Ganus, who played college soccer at UAB and Georgia. “I can’t say enough about their fight. Hats off to Peel City. By far, the most improved team I’ve seen in a full year of turnaround.

This is the Propst Effect, and it seems it’s only a matter of time before Pell City starts sending some shockwaves across the state. The Lightning nearly hit Moody, but Probst was left upset when an offensive tackle was called in the second half which canceled out Bell City’s score.

“It was probably the worst call I’ve ever seen in high school football,” Probst said on Bell City’s local radio postgame show. “In 41 years, I’ve never seen offensive pass interference this bad. I’ve tried to come back my whole career and I think that was the worst call I’ve ever had in a football game for pass interference. I mean I don’t even know what he’s looking at. … I went and looked at it on my iPad and played it about 18 times. It’s impossible for there to be pass interference.”

It was one of the pivotal plays in the game, but there were others.

Explosive coverage by the Bell City defense on third down and 21 kept Moody alive in the second quarter. On the play, a 62-yard touchdown throw from Moody quarterback Charlie Johnston to receiver Braden Wright cut the Bell City lead to 10–7. It was Moody’s only significant offensive gain in the entire first half. Moody made just three offensive plays in the first quarter with Bell City’s three-option FrakenRush offense consuming clock and energy in the sweltering Alabama heat.

The rivalry wasn’t without enough sideshows. The teams had to be separated before the game and then again towards the end of the first half after Moody was reported for a late strike on Bell City player Caleb Gross.

While clearing the dust, Probst threw the headset at his son, quarterback John David Probst, to prevent the sophomore receiver from getting caught up in the commotion. The headset broke when it hit John David Probst’s helmet, but a helpful side technician fixed the communicator in seconds.

Probst momentarily lost his cool during the game, but then said his return to Alabama high school football was less emotional than he expected.

“You just coach the football,” Probst said. “It’s a football game and it’s about kids trying to win a game in a difficult situation.”

Joseph Goodman is the chief sports columnist for Alabama Media Group, and author of “We want Bama”, a book about teamwork, hope and rum. You can find him on Twitter @Joe Goodman Jr.

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