E.A. Sports Today

They are the champions

Piedmont celebrates with its community after receiving all the accolades that go with winning a state championship

Piedmont coach Steve Smith talks proudly about the accomplishments of this year's Class 3A state championship football team. On the cover, Piedmont mayor Bill Baker displays the marker that proclaims the Bulldogs' two state titles. Below, the Piedmont seniors who helped make this season possible. (Photos by Shannon Fagan/Cherokee County Herald)

Piedmont coach Steve Smith talks proudly about the accomplishments of this year’s Class 3A state championship football team. On the cover, Piedmont mayor Bill Baker displays the marker that proclaims the Bulldogs’ two state titles. Below, the Piedmont seniors who helped make this season possible. (Photos by Shannon Fagan/Cherokee County Herald)

By Jason Katz
For East Alabama Sports Today

PIEDMONT — Logan Beadles and Mason Langley looked on proudly with the rest of their teammates as Piedmont coach Steve Smith held the numerous trophies that were presented to him and his team Tuesday morning.

All of them were beautiful in their own right and collectively represented the pinnacle of a successful season. They would be welcomed additions to an already overflowing trophy case, but none was more meaningful to the two Bulldogs’ lineman than the simple wooden state-of-Alabama trophy for the Class 3A state championship.

The Bulldogs won the title 12 days ago in a dominating 44-7 victory over Bayside Academy at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa and have been waiting for the day to formally share it with their community ever since.

It was their second state championship since 2009 and Smith was on the verge of tears as he thanked the community and the team for all their work this season during the AHSAA’s formal trophy presentation ceremony at the school.

“Our program is one of those that can be a contender each year,” Smith said. “You’re a bit of a marked team and you know you get everyone’s best shot, but our kids responded so well to the challenges every week.”

Putting their hands on this trophy seemed a far-fetched dream for Beadles and Langley before they transferred in before the start of the 2015-16 school year.

This Piedmont team went 14-1 during the season and played the defending state champions in three classifications at some point along its development. The team the linemen used to play for didn’t win a game this past season.

Both of the linemen felt this team is one of many that can contend for a championship. The feeling around it is different than any other they’ve been around.

“This is a much nicer feeling,” said Beadles, a sophomore.

The Piedmont gym was packed as local celebrities the likes of Mayor Bill Baker, Congressman Mike Rogers and coaches Rudy Abbott and Bill Burgess sat and watched the festivities unfold. AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese did the honors.

“It’s great to be at a place where expectations are so high,” Smith said.

Ten seniors will be graduating after this spring, but many players from the state title team return to defense, including championship game MVP quarterback Taylor Hayes. With such a young team winning a state championship, both Smith and the team think they can be back in this situation next year.

“We are set up for the long run,” Smith said. “We have to fill some holes for next year, but I do not think we are a flash in the pan by any means.”

All in all the emotion of the day was evident of a proud community. Whether the players had been there for 10 years or just one, Piedmont pride was evident.

“Brotherhood is a big part of this team and we all work together,” said Langley, a junior.

The team is celebrating now, but in a few weeks they know it’ll be back to work. But what nice work it’ll be will the glow of a state title still fresh in their memories.

“It’s nice to work so hard and come out on top,” Langley said. “That’s really sweet.”

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