McGEHEE — This fall the football teams at the University of Alabama and McGehee High School will be kindred spirits, of sorts.

McGEHEE — This fall the football teams at the University of Alabama and McGehee High School will be kindred spirits, of sorts.

Both the Crimson Tide and the Owls will be looking for their third straight title, while Alabama searches for its third consecutive Football Bowl Subdivision championship, McGehee is vying for back-to-back-to-back 6-3A conference championships.

“I’d lie if I said we hadn’t talked about it,” Owls head coach Marcus Haddock said. “That’s one of our goals.

“That’s something we haven’t done since the ‘90s when my mentor coach (Lanny) Dauksch was here. So that’s definitely one of our goals, but that’s not all of our goals. It’s just one of the pieces.”

The sixth-year head coach wouldn’t elaborate on the rest of the goals beyond “playing hard every single play,” but senior running back David Shepard did.

“It’s been good,” Shepard said of McGehee’s practices. “We’ve been flying to the ball, (we’ve had an) up-tempo offense and just trying to be as aggressive as we can to achieve the goal of a three-peat and win a state championship, hopefully.”

If the Owls are to pull off the three-peat, Shepard (1,289 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns last year) will need to have another big season. He was named to the Hooten’s Arkansas Football magazine Sonic 2013 Super Team along with senior defensive lineman Davondrick Lison (87 tackles and eight sacks last season), but Haddock is making sure the honor doesn’t go to their heads.

“He’s OK,” Haddock said of Shepard. “He’s still learning.

“He’s being asked to work just as hard as everybody else. We don’t treat anybody any different. He’s not a superstar. He’s got to block and tackle just like everybody else and he knows that and he does it.”

“The good Lord’s gifted him,” Haddock said of Lison. “His attitude’s gotten better.

“We’re going to put a little bit more on his shoulders this year and see if he can hold it up. If he can, he’ll make us a better team and he’ll make himself a better person. … We’ve got to get his leadership ability as well as a couple of other seniors in the right direction. If we do that, I don’t think anything but ourselves can slow us up or trip us up.”

Just like Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide, the most important group for the Owls will be the offensive line.

“That’s probably the deepest part of our football team,” Haddock said of the O-line. “We’ve got 14 or 15 kids on the offensive line that can play. …

“We’ve got to stay healthy, either way.”

Hooten’s also showed some love to the group naming the McGehee offensive line the best in Class 3A.

“I appreciate Mr. Hooten for putting that in there,” Haddock said with a laugh. “I don’t know about No. 1, but we’ve got some hard-nosed kids.”

One of those hard-nosed kids is senior center Jared Carter.

“We’re going to be experienced this year,” Carter said. “We’ve got three seniors coming back, and another junior Austin Starnes coming back to help out at guard.

“I’m not going to say that we’re going to be tough, but we’re going to do the best that we can to make it tough on everybody else. We’re going to work hard and we’re going to do everything that we can to protect our backs.”

Shepard has noticed their hard work.

“Our O-line is looking good,” Shepard said. “They lifted weights hard this summer and got big.

“You know, they made holes last year and with four of them coming back, hopefully, they’ll make holes this year, so we can do what we’ve got to do as a backfield.”

The Owls’ Achilles heel last season was the secondary, which was exploited in their 62-33 playoff loss to Harding Academy.

“We had some injuries early, so we had to move some folks around,” Haddock said. “The secondary was a little suspect.

“We had a couple places where we had some weaknesses, and a good offensive coordinator, when they find those weaknesses they kind of pick on them. But I’ll give Harding Academy a lot of credit they had a lot to do with it. It wasn’t all us.”

If the secondary is able to keep the game close, the Owls showed last year they could pull out some tight victories.

“Heart,” Carter said of why McGehee was successful in close games. “That’s the biggest thing, and that’s really the biggest thing that you can have in football.”