MONTGOMERY – Four unbeaten teams and one defending state champion advanced to the 2017 Super 7 State Football Championships set for the University of Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium, Dec. 6-7-8.
Randolph County (13-1) avenged a regular-season 41-31 loss to two-time defending Class 3A state champion and Region 5 rival Piedmont in the semifinals Friday with a dramatic 35-28 win over the Bulldogs to clinch a berth in championship game. Coach Pat Prestridge’s Tigers from Wedowee scored the winning touchdown with 1.6 seconds remaining in the game. Randolph County had a chance to tie the game at 28-28 a few minutes earlier but failed on a two-point try.
“It was an incredible finish,” Prestridge said of the semifinal win. Piedmont won the 2015 and 2016 Class 3 state titles. The Tigers, 36-5 over the last three seasons with two losses coming at the hands of Piedmont, will face Hillcrest-Evergreen (13-1), which beat Region 1 rival Clarke County 20-14 to reach the Super 7 finals for the first time in school history. Randolph County last reached the finals in 1998.
Leroy (12-2) went for two in its 28-21 win over Goshen in the semifinals. The Bears of Coach Jason Massey took the lead 22-21 with 1:26 left going for two after trailing for most of the game, then blocked a 45-yard field goal attempt by the Eagles in the final seconds and ran the blocked kick back for a final touchdown. Lanett (14-0) downed Sulligent (12-2) 59-28 to capture the other 2A championship game berth.
In Class 5A, St. Paul’s Episcopal (13-1) and Briarwood Christian (14-0) won close game in the semifinals to reach the finals. Coach Steve Mask’s Saints edged Demopolis 20-19 and Coach Fred Yancey’s Lions rebounded from a 27-10 halftime deficit to beat St. Clair County 37-33.
The Saints and Lions, with eight state titles between them, played in the 2007 state finals – a game that included two blocked kicks in the final minutes. St. Paul’s won 14-13. Both starting quarterbacks in that game, A.J. McCarron of St. Paul’s and Barrett Trotter of Briarwood, met again in college in the Iron Bowl as starters for Alabama and Auburn, respectively.
In Class 6A, Wetumpka (13-1) beat Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa 44-27 and Pinson Valley (14-0) beat Clay-Chalkville 37-7 to reach the finals for the first time in school history. In Class 4A, Fayette County (12-2) beat previously undefeated Saks 34-7 and UMS-Wright (12-2) nipped Andalusia 35-28 to set up the 4A championship game. And in Class 1A, Pickens County (12-2) scored 29 points in the fourth quarter to beat South Lamar 35-7 and Sweet Water (12-1) edged Wadley 27-21 in the other semifinal to advance to the Super 7.
Hoover (10-3) and McGill-Toolen Catholic (13-0) clinched spots in the 7A finals on Nov. 24. The Bucs are the only defending champion to advance to the finals this season. The Yellow Jackets are one four teams still unbeaten. Lanett, Briarwood Christian and Pinson Valley are the other unbeaten teams in the Super 7.
Schools reaching the Super 7 championships for the first are: Hillcrest-Evergreen, Lanett, Wetumpka, Pinson Valley and Baldwin County’s Unified team.
Raycom Media, the AHSAA’s TV partner, will televise all seven championships over its Raycom network of affiliates. The AHSAA Radio Network will broadcast all seven finals as well.
UNIFIED TEAMS IN SUPER 7: Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa’s NFHS Network School Broadcast Program will live-stream the fourth annual Unified Sports game between Vestavia Hills and Baldwin County, which kicks off the Super 7 Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The AHSAA partners with Special Olympics Alabama to host the annual flag football game.
Complete Super 7 pairings:
SUPER 7 STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa
Wednesday, Dec. 6
Baldwin County vs. Vestavia Hills, 3:30 p.m.
McGill-Toolen Catholic (13-0) vs. Hoover (10-3), 7 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 7
Hillcrest-Evergreen (13-1) vs. Randolph County (13-1), 11 a.m.
Sweet Water (12-1) vs. Pickens County (12-2), 3 p.m.
Briarwood Christian (14-0) vs. St. Paul’s Episcopal (13-1), 7 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 8
Fayette County (12-2) vs. UMS-Wright (12-2), 11 a.m.
Lanett (14-0) vs. Leroy (12-2), 3 p.m.