Clay Bowl Finale Takes Week 5 Spotlight
Clay County High School’s 7-6 football win over Lineville Friday night at Horn-White Stadium in Ashland brought to an end to the “Clay Bowl,” one of the nation’s legendary prep football rivalries, and catapulted both teams into the AHSAA Spotlight for Week 5.
The rivalry, which began in 1922 and lasted 101 games, was judged in the late 1990s by USA Today as one of the nation’s Top 10 high school football rivalries. The last one certainly lived up to that billing.
It was a classic finish to a series where Clay County has averaged 11.8 points per game and Lineville 12.8. The Aggies finished with 54 wins, Clay County 43 and the two teams tied four times.
The two schools will merge next school year to form Central High School of Clay County. The new nickname will be the Volunteers and the school colors red, white and blue.
Principal Billy Walker said 2,600 advance tickets were sold and the crowd was estimated at more than 5,000 in a stadium that can seat 3,500. The stadium was full by 4:30 in the afternoon with late arrivals standing 30 deep around the fence and even deeper on the hill overlooking the field. As many as five TV stations were on hand along with numerous reporters and a host of other media.
And former governor Bob Riley, who is a Clay County grad, administered the ceremonial coin toss before the game using a special centennial coin honoring President Ronald Reagan.
Clay County (4-1), coached by Kris Herron, took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on Travis Smith’s 10-yard TD run. Shawncey Simmons then kicked what would turn out to be the game-winning extra point.
Lineville (4-1), coached by Clay County grad Steve Giddens, finally scored with 4:30 to play when quarterback Demetrius Lindsey scored on a 5-yard run. The extra point try was blocked, however.
Lineville got another chance quickly when the Aggies jarred the ball loose on the kick return and recovered at the Panthers 21-yard line. Three plays netted just zero yards and the Aggies lined up to try a 38-yard field goal. Once again, the kick was blocked to foil the scoring opportunity.
Giddens’ team got the ball back with just over a minute to play. Panthers junior Jamari Staples intercepted Lineville’s fourth-down pass to seal the win.
Lineville limited Clay County to just 145 yards of offense, including only 12 through the air. Simmons was the Panthers’ leading rusher with 40 yards on 12 carries. Lineville had 107 yards passing but could muster less than 100 yards rushing.
When the game ended, both teams huddled together in the middle of the field as more than 5,000 fans – many of whom were at the stadium by 4 p.m. Friday – looked on.
Herron and Giddens embraced and then addressed the teams.
“There’s nothing to be ashamed of,” Herron said to the Lineville players. “Hey, this is what it was founded on and what it was all about. After tonight and a day or two, this stuff is over. We start coming together.”
Giddens, who played in his final Clay Bowl game in 1979, reflected before the game. “This is a special game for a special group from two special towns. We’ll all miss it, but we all look forward to what comes next.”
In one other milestone team performance, Fort Payne beat Cullman 44-21 to record the Wildcats’ 500th school win. Fort Payne, currently coached by Paul Ellis, is now 500-336-29 all time.
Other top prep performances last weekend included:
Lorenzo Gray, Pinson Valley: Piled up 498 yards rushing and receiving as the Indians beat Springville 55-27. He had 309 yards rushing on eight carries with touchdown runs covering 65, 8, 95 and 4 yards. He also hauled in five pass receptions for 189 yards and two 55-yard TD scores – giving him six touchdowns on the night. Brook Garrett also completed 8-of-12 passes for 243 yards and four touchdowns for Pinson.
Caleb Hill, Danville: The senior rushed for 225 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries and completed 3-of-5 passes for 41 yards in the Hawks’ 41-38 two-overtime win over Priceville. He scored on runs of 85, 11 and 4 yards. On defense he had five tackles and caused one fumble.
Gavin Calder, Ardmore: Rushed 40 times for 276 yards with three touchdowns as the Tigers won for the first time this season, defeating Clements 26-14.
Michael Davis, Geraldine: The junior running back/safety scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 90-yard run with 4:53 to play and then made an interception with 15 seconds remaining as the Bulldogs edged Pisgah 14-7. Davis finished with 21 carries for 188 yards and two TDs.
Rodney Camp, Phillips: Sparked a 42-33 win over Phil Campbell with 239 yards passing and five touchdowns. He was 21-of-27 on the night and also rushed for 68 yards and a TD on 13 carries. He also completed three 2-point conversion passes, made four tackles and intercepted a pass on defense. Teammate Caleb Clark caught seven passes for 116 yards and four TDs.
Cody Hughes, Central-Phenix City: Stepped in to replace injured starter Jonathan Wallace at quarterback and directed the Red Devils to a 64-28 win over Russell County. He was 13-of-18 passing for 229 yards and three touchdowns.
Jacob Davis, Sylvania: Davis, a senior who plays running back, wide receiver and safety, ran a punt back 85 yards for the winning touchdown as the Rams edged Brindlee Mountain 17-10. It was his third punt return for a touchdown this season. He now has eight kick returns for scores in his last 15 games.
Victor Maye, Shades Valley: Completed 18-of-26 passes for 300 yards and three touchdowns in a 36-20 loss to Hueytown.
Aaron Sanders, Headland: Had 254 yards passing and rushing and accounted for four touchdowns in the Rams’ 44-39 win over Houston County. Sanders passed for 193 yards and three scores and rushed for 61 yards and a 6-yard TD.
Patrick Smith, Houston County: Accounted for 356 all-purpose yards and all 39 points – six touchdowns and three extra point kicks – in the Lions’ 44-39 loss to Headland. Smith caught six passes for 171 yards with three touchdowns (76, 41 and 38), rushed for 91 yards on 11 carries with two TDs (1 and 64) and had a kickoff return of 93 yards for a touchdown.
Corey Perkins, Rehobeth: Rushed for 241 yards on 26 carries with two touchdowns (3 and 85 yards) , helping the Rebels snap a 15-game losing streak with a 34-19 win over Cottonwood.
Bryan Flemming, Russell County: Completed 10-of-20 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns in a 64-28 loss to Central-Phenix City.
Sterling Gatlin, Providence Christian: The senior linebacker had 14 tackles and two assists in a 34-20 win over Geneva County. He also had a fourth-quarter interception to help seal the win. Offensively he rushed for 117 yards on 20 carries with one TD. Junior Spencer Walker added 111 yards and three scores on 16 carries and caught two passes for 57 yards and a 33-yard score.
Teague Whitaker, Ider: The senior running back carried nine times for 224 yards and three touchdowns as Ider downed Victory Christian 47-12. Whitaker scored on runs of 64, 49 and 45 yards.
Troy Elliott, Corner: Was 6 of 6 on extra points and kicked field goals of 39 and 51 yards in a 48-20 win over Locust Fork. Teammate Blake Byrd also rushed for 204 yards and four touchdowns on 11 carries.
Benjamin Riggs, Marion County: Was perfect on seven extra points, extending his current season streak to 32, in the Raiders’ 49-22 win over Sulligent.
Terrance Hollingsworth, Berry: The sophomore rushed for 254 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries in the Wildcats’ 58-22 win over Appalachian. He also had nine tackles on defense.
Georgie Salem, Vestavia Hills: Rushed for 221 yards and three touchdowns (80, 27 and 48 yards) as the Rebels knocked off previously unbeaten Briarwood Christian 35-14.
Ryan Mason, Pleasant Grove: Made 23 tackles in a 27-14 loss to Pelham.
Harrison Collier, Carroll: Had 17 tackles, including nine solos, in the Eagles’ 30-22 loss to Ashford.
Marquez Pride, Bob Jones: The senior defensive end had nine tackles, including five sacks and one forced fumble, in the Patriots’ 28-13 win over Spain Park.
Dalton Screws, Walter Wellborn: Caught a pass from teammate Judd Smith on the last play of the first half to tie the game at 6-6, then made an interception on defense in the final seconds of the game to end a scoring threat and seal a 12-6 win over Weaver.