MONTGOMERY – Three Spring Garden football players were among those receiving recognition from the Alabama High School Athletic Association in its Football Playoff Spotlight.
Receiver Chaz Pope got things going early for the Panthers (10-1) in their Class 2A first-round battle with Tanner. He returned the opening kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown, then caught a pair of second quarter touchdown passes from 44 and 60 yards in the Panthers’ 72-21 victory.
The 72 points scored by Spring Garden is tied for the second most in school history. The Panthers defeated Coosa Christian 72-42 back on Oct. 24, 2014. The school record for points is 75 in the Panthers’ 75-0 victory at Woodville on Oct. 16, 2009.
Quarterback Ryley Kirk and fullback Luke Welsh join Pope in this week’s Spotlight performances. Kirk completed 5-of-7 pass attempts for 168 yards and two scoring connections with Pope. He also had a 33-yard touchdown pass to Weston Kirk, and had 34 yards on four carries with three touchdowns on runs of 6, 1 and 18 yards in the first half.
Welsh led the Panthers’ ground attack with 168 yards on just six carries with a pair of second-quarter touchdowns on runs of 75 and 8 yards.
Spring Garden hosts Red Bay in the second round on Friday.
In Class 3A playoff action, Piedmont quarterback Jack Hayes completed 11-of-17 pass attempts to four different receivers for 269 yards in the first half as the Bulldogs downed Colbert Heights 47-14. He threw a pair of touchdown passes to Austin Estes and one each to Jakari Foster and Coleman Reid.
Piedmont hosts Plainview in the second round this Friday.
In Class 1A, Cedar Bluff quarterback Jacob Burleson connected on 15-of-29 pass attempts for 221 yards and four touchdowns. He also had an interception on defense in the Tigers’ 44-37 Class 1A playoff loss to Hubbertville.
In other high school playoff action highlights from Friday night, Notasulga High School quarterback Walter Tatum and Florala High School quarterback Rashaad Coleman provided the show in last week’s Class 1A first-round playoff battle.
But it was the defense on an all-important 2-point conversion pass in the final minute that sealed the Blue Devils’ 32-30 win.
Still, both quarterbacks share this week’s AHSAA Football Spotlight for round 1 of the 2020 state football playoffs.
Coleman, a 5-foot-9, 175-pound senior, passed for 343 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 87 yards and three more scores. His final TD helped Florala close a 32-12 fourth-quarter deficit in an amazing comeback for Coach Christopher Littleton’s Wildcats (7-3). That last pass, broken up in the end zone, could have sent the wild battle into overtime.
Tatum, a 6-foot, 185-pound senior for Coach Anthony Jones’ Blue Devils (8-1), rushed for 207 yards and two TDs, including an 83-yard scoring scamper. His leadership and play on defense also helped Notasulga advance to the second round of the playoffs to face Sweet Water this week.
The Blue Devils appeared to have a comfortable lead after Tyrese McCullough scored on an 85-yard run early in the final period. That’s when Coleman, also an outstanding point guard for Florala’s basketball team, ignited the Wildcats comeback effort.
That exciting finish edged out three other top performances for this week’s Prep Spotlight.
Evan Smith and Brode Susce helped No. 4 Oak Mountain and Homewood pulled upsets in Class 7A and 6A, respectively, and Millry High School standout Devontae Causey had a career night in his team’s Class 1A playoff win over Central-Hayneville.
Smith ran for 336 yards on 22 carries with four touchdowns as the fourth-seeded Eagles knocked off No. 1 seed Austin 41-28 in the 7A playoffs. The Eagles finished fourth in Class 7A, Region 3 behind defending state champion Thompson, powerful Hoover and Hewitt-Trussville. All four teams posted wins in the first round – making Region 3 one of four regions to have sweeps.
Homewood’s Susce had the best game of his career, completing 26-of-39 passes for 374 yards and three touchdowns. He also scored the game-winning touchdowns on a keeper as Class 6A, Region 5 fourth seed Homewood gave its region a first-round sweep with a 34-31 win playoff win over Athens. Top seed Mountain Brook, No. 2 seed Briarwood Christian and No. 3 seed Shades Valley also posted playoff wins in the first round.
The other two regions to sweep all four first-round games were Class 1A, Region 6 (Berry, Pickens County, Hubbertville and Brilliant) and Class 3A, Region 5 (Piedmont, Walter Wellborn, Ohatchee and Saks).
Millry’s Causey scored seven touchdowns and accounted for eight in his team’s 55-28 Class 1A playoff win over Central-Hayneville. He rushed 28 times for 226 yards and six touchdowns, caught a 65-yard TD reception also fired one TD pass.
NORTH SAND MOUNTAIN NOTCHES 10TH WIN: The Bison (10-1) defeated Southeastern 19-0 in the first round of the Class 2A state playoffs to notch the school’s first 10-win season since starting football in 1965. Coach Keith Kirby, a graduate of North Sand Mountain, is in his fifth season as head coach and owns a 41-16 record overall – best in the school’s history. He is the school’s 15th head coach during that span. Shawn Peek, who led NSM from 1991-1998, was the previous leader with a 37-44 record overall. Kirby led the Bison to a 9-4 record in 2019, and back-to-back 8-3 seasons in 2017 and 2028. North Sand Mountain finished 9-3 in 2013 with Adam Gilbert as head coach. NSM faces Addison in the second round Friday night at Higdon.
KYLE HAS 490 TOTAL YARDS IN WIN: Decatur Heritage quarterback Brayden Kyle passed for 388 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for 102 yards and a score in a 48-37 Class 1A playoff win over Wadley. He also converted a pair of two-point conversions and finished with 490 total yards. His total tied Thompson’s Taulia Tagovailoa, who has 490 yards in a 2018 game, for 25th best all-time. Trinity Presbyterian’s Jack Poundstone set the record with 618 total yards in a win over Cordova in 2008.
BLOUNT’S WILLIAMS HAD THE TOUCH: Leopards’ running back Jarris Williams scored the first three times he touched the ball on runs of 75, 99 and 72 yards – all in the first quarter – as the Leopards won on the road 40-24 over Hueytown in the 6A playoffs. He later left the game with an injured wrist but still totaled 246 yards on those three runs – 82.0 yards per carry.
AUBURN QB CALDWELL TIES SCHOOL MARK: The Class 7A Tigers’ quarterback, Matthew Caldwell, passed for 151 yards and four touchdowns – his final TD connection tying the school record (18) for TD passes in a season – as the Tigers beat Baker 39-3.
JAVONTE GRAVES-BILLUPS, ST. PAUL’S EPISCOPAL: Rushed 10 times for 149 yards with touchdowns of 1 and 5 yards to lead the Saints past Talladega 44-20 in the 5A playoffs. He also caught six passes for 147 yards — 70 yards coming on a hook-and-lateral on the first play of the game.
QUINSHON JUDKINS, PIKE ROAD: Had 10 carries for 203 yards and four touchdowns (12, 69, 23 and 4 yards) as Pike Road (11-0) beat Shelby County 46-7 in the Class 5A playoffs.
COLLIN MOON, ONEONTA: Sparked the Redskins’ Class 4A first-round 27-24 playoff win over Madison County with 23 carries for 187 yards and three touchdowns. He also returned a kickoff 93 yards for a TD, had a 55-yard punt return to set up a TD and made an interception on defense to halt a Madison County scoring drive.
JOSEPH ANDERSON, MONTEVALLO: Was a workhorse with 38 carries for 144 yards and two touchdowns, including a 10-yard run in overtime to give the Bulldogs a 27-21 Class 4A playoff win over Saint James.
KADARIUS ZACKERY, LANETT: In just one half of play, he rushed for more than 150 yards with TD runs of 73 and 77 yards and also completed a 45-yard TD pass as Lanett beat J.U. Blacksher 51-7 in the Class 2A playoffs.
LOGAN PATE, GUNTERSVILLE: Had 168 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries in a 62-3 Class 5A win over Hayden.
ARMONI GOODWIN, HEWITT-TRUSSVILLE: Picked up 149 yards on seven rush attempts and scored three touchdowns in the Huskies’ 55-12 Class 7A playoff win over James Clemens.
ELI MUSSO, HALEYVILLE: Rushed for three touchdowns and passed for two in the Lions’ 48-18 Class 4A playoff win over Central-Florence.
JEFFREY ROWSER, RAMSAY: Had 142 yards and two touchdowns rushing on 12 carries as the Rams (10-0) beat Lawrence County 56-20 in the first round of the 5A state playoffs.
VEONTAI WILLIAMS, DAPHNE: Ran for 128 yards on 14 carries, including an 80-yard score, and also threw a 42-yard halfback touchdown pass to Travis Crum with 3:27 left to clinch the 42-33 Class 7A playoff win over Prattville.
JARRETT CROCKETT, THOMPSON: Picked up 126 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 17 carries and added a 26-yard scoring reception in the Warriors’ 49-7 Class 7A first-round win over Grissom.
MARKEL CHEESEBORO, CLARKE COUNTY: Rushed for 154 yards on 17 carries and returned the opening kick of the second half for a touchdown as the Bulldogs defeated Randolph County 43-21 in the Class 2A playoffs.
COSNER HARRISON, SAINT JAMES: Had 24 carries for 134 yards and one TD in the Trojans’ 27-21 overtime loss to Montevallo in the Class 4A playoffs. He finished the season with 1,777 yards on 253 carries and had 23 touchdowns.
WILL CROWDER, GARDENDALE: Was 18-of-28 passing for 373 yards and three touchdowns in the Rockets’ 52-24 playoff victory over Fort Payne.
JALEN CLARK, ALABAMA CHRISTIAN: Completed 10-of-12 passes for 307 yards and five touchdowns, tacked on 106 yards rushing and two more scores on eight carries as ACA beat West Blocton 56-14 in the Class 4A playoffs. His TD passes covered 7, 26, 54, 73 and 40 yards.
AVERY SEATON, MADISON ACADEMY: Completed 10-of-14 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 96 yards and three TDs on nine carries in a 49-14 Class 4A playoff win over Dora.
STROTHER GIBBS, MOUNTAIN BROOK: Completed 15-of-18 passes for 195 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 53 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries in THE Spartans’ 38-6 Class 6A playoff win over Muscle Shoals.
CONNER WARHURST, RUSSELLVILLE: Caught a 24-yard pass from Gabe Amick on 4th-and-10 with 33 seconds left and then ran for the game-winning touchdown as the Golden Tigers beat Fairfield 14-7 in the first round of the 5A playoffs.
GA’QUINCY McKINSTRY, PINSON VALLEY: Caught five passes for 113 yards and three touchdowns and added an 85-yard interception return for a score as the Indians downed Arab 45-0 in the 6A playoffs.
MYLES BUTLER, MONTGOMERY CATHOLIC: Caught three passes for 103 yards and three touchdowns (68, 15 and 20 yards) as the Knights beat Bayside Academy 52-21 in the 3A playoffs.
XAVIER JONES, LEROY: Caught three passes – all for touchdowns – in the Bears’ 54-15 Class 2A playoff win over LaFayette. His TD catches went for 10, 28 and 29 yards. He also returned an interception 35 yards and had four punt returns for 76 yards.
WALTER CHERRY, TRINITY PRESBYTERIAN: Had 20 tackles in the Wildcats’ 10-7 Class 3A playoff win over Flomaton.
TYLER WAUGH, BRIARWOOD CHRISTIAN: Totaled 15 tackles and two interceptions on defense and rushed eight times for 98 yards and for touchdowns on offense as the Lions beat Hartselle 31-17 in the Class 6A playoffs.
BARTON ELLIOTT, UMS-Wright: The Bulldogs’ backup QB, now playing safety, intercepted three passes and returned one for a 41-yard touchdown as the Bulldogs downed Holtville 27-6 in the Class 5A playoffs.
QUAY NELMS, AUBURN: Had two of the Tigers’ four interceptions as Auburn advanced to the second round of the Class 7A state playoffs with a 39-3 win over Baker.
KEON MARION, THEODORE: Returned an interception 85 yards for a touchdown in the second half as the Bobcats beat Enterprise 40-28 in the 7A playoffs.
GRAYDEN FLOWERS, TRINITY PREABYTERIAN: Kicked a 42-yard field goal with 7.4 seconds remaining to lift Trinity past Flomaton 10-7 in the Class 3A state playoffs.
KYLON GRIFFIN, MONTGOMERY CATHOLIC: Returned a kickoff just before the half 74 yards to set up one TD and opened the second half with an 86-yard kickoff return for a score as the Knights downed Bayside Academy 52-21 in the Class 3A playoffs. He also intercepted a pass and returned it for TD, but the score was nullified due to a penalty. The pick still led to a Knights TD, however.
REGGIE DAVIS, LEE-MONTGOMERY: Returned a kickoff 80 yards for a TD in the Generals’ Class 6A 23-20 road win over Pelham.
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