MONTGOMERY – Cherokee County started the season with three straight losses and was just 2-5 heading into the eighth week of the 2017 football season. The Warriors of Coach Thomas Curry didn’t lose hope, however.
They finished strong in Class 4A, Region 5 to capture the fourth region spot in the playoffs, and now, after two straight playoff wins, Cherokee County (6-6) is the only four seed still playing and is just two victories away from the state championship game. The ‘Cinderella Story’ continues for the boys from Centre as they grabbed the AHSAA Football Spotlight for Week 2 of the state playoffs.
Quarterback Tyren Dupree was almost perfect in last week’s 28-24 win over Region 8 runner-up Wilson (10-2) as the Warriors pulled out a 28-24 win and moved into round three this week to face Region 6 winner Saks. Dupree was 10-of-11 passing for 152 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 154 yards on 21 carries with a 58-yard scoring run. He connected with Marcus Barrington four times for 72 yards and two touchdowns as Cherokee County overcame a fine performance by Wilson quarterback Tucker Brown. He was 14-of-21 passing for Wilson (10-2) for 214 yards and one TD and rushed for 121 yards and two scores on 23 carries in the loss.
The Warriors have a rich playoff history. Curry, in his 22nd season as a head coach, is 167-94 overall and 118-80 in 17 seasons at Centre. His 2008 team finished 4A runner-up with a 14-1 record and the 2009 team was 15-0 and won the state title. Cherokee County is 20-9 in 10 playoff appearances during Curry’s tenure and 30-23 overall in 24 trips to the playoffs dating back to 1967, the first year the state playoffs were held for all schools.
Saks (12-0) beat Cherokee County 45-0 earlier this season on the way to a perfect 10-0 regular season. Saks will host Friday’s quarterfinal game thanks to winning the Region 5 title. All four of the playoff qualifiers from Region 5 won the first week of the playoffs with third seed Hokes Bluff (10-2) knocking off Madison Academy 12-10, Saks beating Westminster Christian 42-21, Cherokee County downing Region 7 champion Sardis 21-14 and second seed Jacksonville beating Randolph.
Jacksonville fell on the road to Region 6 champion Fayette County 32-16 last Friday, Hokes Bluff won over Region 8 champ and previously unbeaten Rogers 12-0 and Saks downed Dora 31-24.
Class 4A, Region 7 isn’t the only region with three teams still in the playoffs. In Class 3A, Region 1, Hillcrest-Evergreen (11-1), Clarke County (10-2) and Mobile Christian (9-3) are still alive, and in Class 5A, Region 5, Briarwood Christian (12-0), Wenonah (10-1) and St. Clair County (9-3) are also playing this week.
In other playoff highlights from Round 2:
STANLEY ECLIPSES 4,000 CAREER YARDS: Piedmont senior Lee Stanley rushed for 213 yards on 19 carries and scored once on a 75-yard run as the defending 3A state champs beat J.B. Pennington 28-13. His last carry of the night covered 11 yards and put him over 4,000 rushing yards for his career – just the second Bulldogs running back in history to reach that milestone. He heads into this week’s Class 3A quarterfinals at Colbert Heights with 4,003 career rushing yards.
TYSON GOES OVER 400 YARDS: Junior quarterback Paul Tyson of Hewitt-Trussville connected on 25-of-46 passes for a career-high 409 yards and three touchdowns in a 56-21 Class 7A playoff loss to Hoover. Hewitt finished its season 11-1.
COLBERT HEIGHTS GAMBLE CLINCHES SPOT IN QUARTERFINALS: Quarterback Kevin Shaw rushed for 161 yards and two scores and passed for 101 yards and two touchdowns in a 36-35 overtime win over Weaver in the 3A playoffs. A gamble in overtime paid off. After Weaver scored first and kicked the extra point to take a 35-28 lead, the Wildcats (11-1) scored and decided to go for two – scoring the two-point conversion and clinching a spot in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs for the first time in the school’s 52-year football history.
PAYTON ANDERSON, FYFFE: Had a career-high 347 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 21 carries as the Class 2A Red Devils (12-0) beat LaFayette in the second round for their 27th win in a row.
JERMAINE BROWN, ST. LUKE’S EPISCOPAL: Accounted for six touchdowns as the Wildcats (10-1) advanced in the 2A playoffs with a 69-34 win over Abbeville. He rushed for four touchdowns, passed for two and had 470 all-purpose yards.
TREVOR CAMERON & COLBY NUNN, WADLEY: The Bulldogs' rushing duo combined for 289 yards and five touchdowns on 30 carries as Wadley (11-0) defeated Isabella 55-19 in the second round of the 1A playoffs. Cameron led the way with 172 yards and two scores on 18 carries, while Nunn had 117 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries.
JAQUON KINCEY, ABBEVILLE: The Yellow Jackets’ quarterback rushed for 203 yards and three touchdowns (40, 64 and 98 yards) on 13 carries and completed 6-of-14 passes for 97 yards in the 69-34 Class 2A playoff loss to St. Luke's.
WILLIE PADRON, CHEROKEE: Had 13 carries for 195 yards and four touchdowns as Cherokee knocked off previously undefeated Lynn 35-14 in the 1A playoffs.
JAYLAND WHITSETT, VIGOR: Gained 164 yards rushing on 17 carries and scored once as the Wolves edged past Eufaula 19-3 in the Class 5A playoffs.
LARRY McCAMMON, HOOVER: Ran for 150 yards and two TDs on 11 carries in a 56-21 Class 7A victory over Hewitt-Trussville.
ISAIHA JONES, CEDAR BLUFF: Finished with 157 yards rushing on 21 carries and 60 receiving yards on four receptions with a 2-point conversion in the Tigers’ 21-14 loss to South Lamar.
J.R. TRAN-RENO, BRIARWOOD CHRISTIAN: Scored five touchdowns and rushed for 106 yards on 25 carries, scoring on runs of 2, 13, 5, 8 and 6 yards, in a 35-14 Class 5A victory for the Lions (12-0) over Lee-Huntsville.
DESMOND TROTTER, SHADES VALLEY: Passed for 320 yards and three TDs and rushed for 117 yards and a TD, finishing with 427 yards of total offense and four TDs in a 42-28 Class 6A playoff loss to Austin.
BO NIX, PINSON VALLEY: Passed for 291 yards and four TDs as the Indians (12-0) advanced in the 6A state playoffs with a 41-13 win over Ramsay.
TAULIA TAGOVAILOA, THOMPSON: The junior led the Warriors (12-0) to 34-10 victory over Mountain Brook with a 25-of-40 passing effort good for 251 yards and three touchdowns.
PAYTON MONTGOMERY, AUSTIN: Led the Black Bears (12-0) to a 42-35 Class 6A playoff win over Shades Valley with a strong passing effort. He completed 14-of-20 passes for 242 yards and three touchdowns.
CARLOS ROGERS, WENONAH: Finished 13-of-21 passing for 209 yards and two TDs and added eight carries for 64 yards in a 21-14 Class 5A playoff victory over Mortimer Jordan.
BROCK SNIDER, GOSHEN: The Eagles quarterback completed 9-of-22 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns (33 and 46 yards) and added 20 yards rushing on four carries with one TD in Goshen's 42-8 Class 2A win over Thorsby. Six of the nine pass completions accounted for a first down.
JACK SAMSEL, SPANISH FORT: Was 9-of-11 passing for 224 yards and five TDs in a 48-26 Class 6A playoff victory over Sidney Lanier. He also had a 1-yard TD run.
SWIFT LYLE, ST. PAUL’S EPISCOPAL: Completed 11-of-16 passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns as the Saints (11-1) beat Carroll (11-1) 37-13 in the 5A state playoffs.
NATHAN TAYLOR, LEROY: Connected on 15-of-20 passes for 194 yards and three TDs as the Bears downed Ariton 35-21 in the Class 2A playoffs.
NOAH ALLISON, J.B. PENNINGTON: Completed 15-of-24 passes for 183 yards and a 6-yard touchdown added 28 yards rushing in the Tigers’ 28-13 Class 3A playoff loss at Piedmont.
LUKE HAMPTON, CEDAR BLUFF: Completed 8-of-14 pass attempts for 151 yards and two touchdowns, both to Davion Fife, in a 21-14 loss to South Lamar.
LIALLEN DAILY, PINSON VALLEY: Caught seven passes for 187 yards and three TDs for the Indians (12-0) in a 41-13 Class 6A victory over defending state champion Ramsay.
ELLIOTT McELWAIN, HEWITT-TRUSSVILLE: Caught 12 passes for 173 yards and added 54 yards rushing in a 7A playoff 56-21 loss to Hoover.
ZACK ALFORD, GOSHEN: Caught six passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns (33 and 46 yards) on offense and added two interceptions on defense in the Eagles' 42-8 win over Thorsby.
CHASE GREEN, WENONAH: Pulled in five catches for 114 yards in a 21-14 Class 5A playoff victory over Mortimer Jordan.
MAURICE GRAY, WEST MORGAN: The senior receiver caught six passes for 105 yards and one touchdown in the Rebels’ 48-21 Class 3A playoff loss to Sylvania. For the season, he finished with 32 catches for 675 yards and nine touchdowns.
JACKSON LANDERS, AUSTIN: The senior caught four passes for 100 yards in the Black Bears’ 42-35 Class 6A victory over Shades Valley.
RODERICK McCLOUD, CLAY-CHALKVILLE: Caught five passes for 95 yards, including a 70-yard TD, in a 30-0 Class 6A playoff victory over Homewood.
ALONDAE VASSAR, THOMPSON: Grabbed seven receptions for 76 yards and two touchdowns, all in the second half, as the Warriors (12-0) beat Mountain Brook 34-10 in the 7A playoffs.
ERIC GARROR, McGILL-TOOLEN CATHOLIC: Intercepted a pass and returned it 32 yards to the Auburn 5-yard line to set up one first-quarter score and blocked a field goal later in the period to set up another Jackets TD en route to a 31-13 Class 7A playoff win over the Tigers.
JALEN SIMS, FULTONDALE: Recorded 22 tackles in a 35-28 Class 3A loss to Randolph County. The Wildcats finished 11-1.
DEVON SCOTT, HOOVER: Recorded six of the Bucs' eight sacks in a 56-21 Class 7A playoff victory over previously unbeaten Hewitt-Trussville (11-1).
SAM WATKINS, AUSTIN: The outside linebacker had an interception with just over three minutes left in the game, stopping a Shades Valley drive and setting up an Austin touchdown that sealed the Black Bears’ 42-35 Class 6A playoff win.
JA’VARRIUS JOHNSON, ST. CLAIR COUNTY: Blocked a punt, scored on a 50-yard run and caught a 45-yard TD pass in the Saints’ 48-21 Class 5A victory over Mae Jemison.