Thursday, February 20, 2020







Ramsay 21, Opelika 16
AUBURN – Ramsay High School head football coach Rueben Nelson wasn’t even born the last time a Birmingham city school won an AHSAA state football championship.
    In fact, he was born the very year that football was discontinued at Ramsay, a school that had its first team in 1930, had its first unbeaten team in 1934, its last unbeaten team in 1941 and let the sport remain dormant for 36 years.
    In 2012, Nelson was asked to resurrect the sport at the school cradled in the shadow of the Vulcan statue located atop Red Mountain. Friday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium, Nelson coached the Rams to the Super 7 Class 6A state football championship.
     Talk about irony.
     The Rams (13-2), with left-handed senior quarterback Baniko Harley leading the team, took control of the 2016 Super 7 championship game finale in the first half and then held on at the end to beat Opelika 21-16. Harley rushed for 158 yards on 21 carries and was 8-of-18 passing for 132 yards and two scores.
    Opelika (13-2), coached by Brian Blackmon, struck first when Weldrin Ford scored on a 1-yard run at 7:46 of the first quarter to cap a nine-play, 45-yard Bulldogs drive to take a 7-0 lead.
     On the next series, Harley ignited the Rams with a dazzling cross-the-field 69-yard run that set up the Rams’ first score – his 9-yard pass to Genori Parrish. The extra point was blocked and Ramsay trailed 7-6 at 5:53 of the quarter. Harley and Parrish hooked up in the second quarter at 5:22 with the 8-yard connection for the TD closing out a 12-play, 85-yard march.
     Ramsay got one more chance before the half and Joshua Horn kicked a 25-yard field goal to give Rams a 15-7 lead. The Rams defense recovered an Opelika fumble on the opening series of the third quarter and Harley turned it into six points with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Kordell Jackson just 2½ minutes into the second half to take a 21-7 lead.
    Opelika, playing without starting quarterback J.D. Worth due to a first-half shoulder injury, marched 89 yards on 10 plays with sophomore quarterback Cade Blackmon at the throttles to cut the lead to 21-14 with 11:42 to play. Talik Jackson got the TD on a dazzling 40-yard run.
    The Bulldogs got another break with 5:13 left when the ball was snapped over the Ramsay punter’s head out of the end zone for a safety to cut the lead to 21-16. That good fortune turned around quickly, however, when Opelika fumbled the ball on the free kick return at the Ramsay 30-yard line and Deshaun Oliver recovered for the Rams.
     Oliver also converted a fourth-and-27 fake punt at the Rams’ 14-yard line earlier in the quarter when he told Harley, the punter, to pass him the ball instead of kicking. Harley did it and Oliver gained 29 yards to the 43 for a first down.

    The last five minutes turned out to be nail-biting as both teams battled to the end. Opelika, facing a fourth-and-1 at its own 40-yard line with just over a minute to play, came up short when Joshua Adams stopped Ford shy of the first-down mark. The Rams then ran out the clock.
   Ramsay finished with 403 total yards on 76 plays and Opelika had 254 on 57 plays.  Harley accounted for 290 yards with his passing and running. Teammate Thomas Hirabowski added 70 yards rushing on nine carries. Parrish finished with three catches for 30 yards.
    Ford led Opelika with 97 yards rushing on 23 carries. Blackmon was 5-of-10 passing in the second half for 40 yards and Caleb Florence had four receptions for 34 yards. Punter Austen Blackmon had three kicks for a 40.7-yard average.
   Zachery Yancey had 14 tackles and four assists to lead Opelika’s defense. Jackson also had seven tackles and four assists.
    Kordell Jackson led Ramsay with six stops.
    It was the first state football crown in Ramsay history and just the third in Birmingham City Schools history since the playoffs began in 1966. Banks won back-to-back titles in 1972 and 1973. Opelika has now finished runner-up twice (2012 and 2016).


Fyffe 28, Aliceville 0
    AUBURN – Fyffe High School used its pounding ball-control running game and a near-perfect defensive effort to down Aliceville 28-0 Friday afternoon to claim the Red Devils’ second Class 2A state football championship in the last three years.
    Coach Paul Benefield’s team won for the second time at Jordan-Hare Stadium – capturing the school’s first football title in 2014 on the Auburn campus. Fyffe was runner-up in 2015 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.
     Senior running back Dylan Kilpatrick closed out his prep career with 158 yards rushing on 25 carries and scored three of the Red Devils’ four touchdowns. He scored on runs of 17, 23 and 5 yards and was named MVP for the championship game.
    Fyffe (15-0) finished with 310 yards rushing on 58 rush attempts, had 21 first downs and kept the ball 28:55 of the 48 minutes. The Red Devils also were 7-of-11 on third-down conversions and succeed on their only fourth-down conversion.  The defense, anchored by Silas Hicks’ six tackles and four each by Dakota Dalton and Anthony Hilley, limited Aliceville (13-2) to just five first downs, 83 yards rushing and 105 yards total offense in the shutout. Brant Rowell also had an interception.
        Payton Anderson added 53 yards rushing for Fyffe and Seth Benefield had 51 on 11 tries. Anderson scored the game’s other TD on a 1-yard run in the second quarter that capped a 10-play, 67-yard drive that ate more than four minutes of the clock. The last scoring drive of the night took 5:53 and covered 80 yards on 12 plays. It started in the third period and ended with 8:20 remaining. Will Mashburn also kicked an important 40-yard field goal with two seconds remaining in the first half to put Fyffe up 16-0 at intermission.
      Kilpatrick finished the season with 2,411 yards rushing and 39 touchdowns on 234 carries. He had 2,512 yards and 36 TDs as a junior and 1,137 yards and 18 scores as a sophomore.
    Deonte Taylor’s 45 yards rushing on six carries led Coach Rico Anderson’s Yellow Jackets’ offensive effort. Demontez Hinton added 31 yards on nine carries. Darien Spencer and Malik Bonner led the defense with nine tackles each. Jamar Richardson had eight.
    Fyffe outscored opponents 700-113 with the championship game win the Red Devils’ sixth shutout of the season. Aliceville scored 620 points on the year.


Handley 30, Madison Academy 7
AUBURN – Handley High School used big plays in the first half to score four touchdowns and a tenacious defense in the second half to seal the Tigers’ 30-7 victory over Madison Academy to capture the Super 7 Class 7A state football championship at Jordan-Hare Stadium Friday afternoon.
   Handley place-kicker Hudson Burns kicked a 26-yard field goal midway through the first quarter to give the Tigers of Coach Larry Strain a 3-0 lead. Senior quarterback Rhett Fetner connected with Malik Meadows on a 75-yard touchdown passed with 44 seconds left in the quarter and then found Christian Allen down the middle for a 68-yard TD pass and Handley led 16-0.  Fetner, named the game’s MVP, was 6-of-9 passing in the first half for 210 yards. He finished the night 9-of-18 for 232 yards.
      Handley running back Devonte Houston capped a six-play, 55-yard drive late in the second quarter with a 2-yard TD run. Twenty seconds later, Allen scored his second touchdown of the night scooping a Madison Academy fumble at the Mustangs’ 20-yard line and speeding untouched into the end zone for the final score of the first half.
       The Mustangs (11-4), who missed two field goals in the first half, also had three lost fumbles that kept Grant Reynolds’ team from gaining any real momentum.
     Madison Academy senior quarterback Grayson Edgemon was 9-of-34 passing for 197 yards. His 24-yard pass to receiver Jaelin Ferdinand with 3:12 left in the third period got the Mustangs on the scoreboard. Handley’s defense did the rest, limiting Madison Academy to minus-11 yards rushing for the game and just 186 total yards.
       Ferdinand finished with four catches for 135 yards for Madison Academy.
       Devontae Houston was the game’s leading rusher with 35 yards on 15 carries for Handley. The Tigers also struggled on the ground managing only 82 yards on 46 attempts. Meadows had two catches for 77 yards, Allen had two for 75 and Jay Brown had three for 45 yards.
     Joshua Hatcher had eight tackles and an assist to pace the Tigers’ defense. Tyrese Heard had three tackles for losses.  Hunter Schrader had nine tackles and two assists for Madison Academy, and Bronson Schad was in on eight tackles with three resulting for 19 yards in losses.
    Handley’s championship was the school’s second overall and first since 2011. Strain (123-91), who led Woodland to Class 2A runner-up finishes in 2004 and 2006, is in his second season as head football coach at Handley. He was at White Plains for a year (2014) before moving to Roanoke. Reynolds is in his first season as head coach at Madison Academy.


Beauregard 33, Wenonah 13
    AUBURN – Junior running back La’Damian Webb wrote his name all over the Super 7 Record Book Thursday night with a 51-carry, 359-yard rushing effort as Beauregard beat Wenonah 33-13 to win the school’s first-ever state football championship.
   Webb scored five touchdowns including four in the second half, as the Hornets won the Class 5A crown with a come-from-behind victory over the Dragons at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
     Trailing 13-7 at halftime, Beauregard (13-1) turned to the 5-foot-9, 190-pound workhorse and he responded with 28 rush attempts, 206 yards and four scores in the final two quarters against a very strong Wenonah defense.
     He scored the game’s first TD just 43 seconds into the contest with a 25-yard run to give the Hornets a 7-0 lead. Wenonah (11-3) fumbled the opening kickoff and Webb scored two plays later.
    The Dragons of Coach Ron Cheatham tied the game later in the first quarter when Telvin Miller scooped up a Beauregard fumble and sped 74 yards for a TD.  Quarterback Carlos Rogers connected with Anthony Hudson for a 15-yard touchdown pass with 15 seconds left in the half to take a six-point lead in at halftime.
    Beauregard got the ball first in the second half and did just what Coach Rob Carter did what the coach preached to his players at halftime. They drove 69 yards on 10 plays with Webb scoring on a 6-yard run at 8:16 of the third quarter to take the lead 14-13. That carry also bumped Webb’s season rushing total to 3,088 yards and moved him to second place in the AHSAA record books for yards rushing in a single season. He finished the game and the season with 3,242 yards. Dale County’s Jamarius Henderson set the single-season record in 2014 wih 3,483 yards in 15 games.
     Webb closed the game with scoring runs of 1, 1 and 40 yards to finish the season with 49 rushing touchdowns and 53 TDs overall, a new state record. Jamarcus Brown of Pickens County set the previous mark (51) in 2013. 
    The 359 yards is an all-class Super 7 record as is his 51 carries.
    Beauregard finished with 404 yards on 68 rush attempts and had 436 total yards. The Hornets kept the ball for 28:49 of the game’s 48 minutes. The 68 rushing plays set an overall Super 7 record.  K.J. Holmes also had 25 yards on eight carries. Holmes was also 3-of-4 passing for 32 yards. 
    Rogers was 9-of17 passing for 103 yards. Miller had two catches for 21 yards and Jadarius Redwine had two for 24 yards.  Miller rushed for 45 yards on 11 carries and Rogers had 35 on 12 rush attempts.
    Blair Green has 12 tackles and two assists and Xavier Stewart had 11 tackles overall for Wenonah. Zachary Feaster and Jalen McDonald were in on six tackles each for Beauregard.
   The Class 4A, 2A and 6A finals close out the 2016 Super 7 Friday. Handley (12-2) and Madison Academy (11-3) meet in 4A finals at 11 a.m. Fyffe (14-0) and Aliceville (13-1) square off in the 2A championship at 3 p.m., and Opelika (13-1) faces Ramsay (12-2) in the Class 6A finals at 7 p.m. All games will be televised lived over the Raycom Media / AHSAA TV Network. Check for channel information.


Maplesville 40, Pickens County 12
    AUBURN – Maplesville High School senior running back Terence Dunlap had 38 carries for 180 yards and three touchdowns Thursday afternoon to lead the Red Devils (14-0) to a 40-12 victory over Pickens County in the 2016 AHSAA Super 7 Class 1A state football championship game at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium.
      The championship was the third in a row for Coach Brent Hubbert’s Chilton County squad and extended Maplesville’s current winning streak to 23 in a row.
     The Class 5A finals got underway at 7 p.m. pitting Beauregard (12-1) and Wenonah (11-2). The Class 4A, 2A and 6A finals close out the 2016 Super 7 Friday. Handley (12-2) and Madison Academy (11-3) meet in 4A finals at 11 a.m. Fyffe (14-0) and Aliceville (13-1) square off in the 2A championship at 3 p.m., and Opelika (13-1) faces Ramsay (12-2) in the Class 6A finals at 7 p.m. All games will be televised lived over the Raycom Media / AHSAA TV Network. Check for channel information.
     Dunlap closed out perhaps the most impressive Super 7 performance in AHSAA history. His effort Thursday earned him Class 1A Championship Game MVP honors for the third straight year – giving him a combined 681 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns on 75 carries in the three state championship games (2014, 2015 and 2016). Maplesville also played for a state championship in 2013 but Dunlap, a freshman at the time, broke his ankle in the playoffs and did not get to play.
   He started the scoring Thursday with a 1-yard run that capped a 56-yard, 12-play drive late in the second quarter to give the Red Devils a 6-0 lead. Kevin Mims scored on a 2-yard run early in the third period and Dunlap added a 5-yard TD run later in the quarter as Maplesville built a 20-0 lead.
    Coach James Thompson’s Tornadoes (11-4) had trouble running the football against the Red Devils’ defense all night. However, the defense and special teams stepped up and closed the gap quickly in a 10-second span later in the third period to cut the lead to 20-12 before the quarter ended.   Demetrius Windham returned a kickoff 84 yards at the 5:14 mark after Dunlap’s second TD. Elliott Windham then intercepted a Maplesville pass on the first play following the Tornadoes kickoff and raced 39 yards untouched for the TD.
    Maplesville scored three touchdowns in the final quarter – an 11-yard run by Nate Watson, a 1-yard run by Dunlap and a 2-yard keeper by quarterback Brent Schoener.
   The Red Devils had the ball 32:46 of the 48 minutes with 249 yards rushing and 95 passing for 344 total yards. They also had 20 first downs to Pickens County’s five. Nate Wilson added 66 yards on 12 carries, and Schoener was 6-of-13 passing for 95 yards. Dunlap had three catches for 51 yards and Wilson had two for 34 yards.
    Defensively, the Red Devils limited Pickens County to zero yards rushing on 22 carries and just 113 passing.  Defensive back Jakavian McKenzie returned an interception 67 yards to set up one TD, and Dunlap had another pick he returned 24 yards.
    Jevonte Eddins led Pickens County with 10 total tackles. Seth Barrentine had six tackles and five assists. Quarterback Zachary Thomas was 6-of-22 passing for 113 yards. Nicorian Robinson caught two passes for 50 yards.
       Dunlap’s 38 carries set a new Super 7 Class 1A record. Windham’s kickoff return was also the longest in Super 7 Class 1A history and was the fifth longest overall for all classes.


Piedmont 22, Mobile Christian 12
    AUBURN – Piedmont High School senior quarterback Taylor Hayes did what he does best Thursday as the Bulldogs (15-0) beat Mobile Christian 22-12 to claim the Bulldogs’ second straight Class 3A state football championship as the 2016 Super 7 Championships moved into its second day at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
    Hayes had 38 carries for 239 yards and scored all three Piedmont touchdowns as the Bulldogs dominated the line of scrimmage with its punishing running game and physical offensive line.
    “Taylor gives 100 percent on everything that he does,” said Piedmont head coach Steve Smith. “He never gives anything less.”
     The Super 7 Championships continued Thursday with the Class 1A finals featuring Maplesville (13-0) and Pickens County (11-3) at 3 p.m., and the 5A finals at 7 p.m. pitting Beauregard (12-1) and Wenonah (11-2). The Class 4A, 2A and 6A finals close out the 2016 Super 7 Friday.
     Mobile Christian (13-2), coached by Ronnie Cottrell, took a 6-0 lead late in the first quarter when Eric Poellnitz scored on a 42-yard pass from Cam Horne. Piedmont marched quickly to its first touchdown with Hayes streaking 65 yards to set up his 1-yard TD run on the first play of the second quarter. Easton Kirk’s extra point kick gave the Bulldogs the lead 7-6. They would never relinquish the lead again.
    Hayes scored again with 1:14 left in the half on a 2-yard run and again from the same distance early in the fourth quarter to round out the Piedmont scoring.
   Mobile Christian stopped another Bulldogs march  on fourth-and-goal at the goal line when Carter Buzbee intercepted Hayes’ pass and returned it 39 yards to near midfield.   The Leopards scored on a 37-yard pass from Horne to Jordan Graddy four plays later to cut the lead to 22-12. Hayes and the Piedmont offense never relinquished the ball again.
    The victory was the 25th in a row for Piedmont, the longest current football winning streak in the AHSAA. Smith’s Bulldogs ran 62 plays to Mobile Christian’s 47 and kept the ball for almost seven more minutes (27:03 to 20:57) and had an 18-9 edge in first downs.
    Stanley Lee added 76 yards rushing on 14 carries and Cardavion Myers gained 60 yards on his one carry. Hayes was 1-of-7 passing for with his 39-yard completion going to Austin Brazir.
     Horne was 16-of-20 passing for 176 yards for Mobile Christian. The Leopards were limited to just 27 yards rushing on 19 carries.   Poellnitz was the leading receiver with five catches for 96 yards. 
    Ethan Hearn totaled 12 stops with seven unassisted tackles. Troy Young also had nine.  Myers led Piedmont’s defensive effort with seven tackles, and Brazir had six.
    The Bulldogs became just the third Class 3A school in AHSAA history to win three Super 7 state titles (2009, 2015, 2016). Madison Academy and Pike County are the other two.