E.A. Sports Today

Where they want to be

Piedmont has had its eye on a return to the Class 3A state championship game since the start of summer workouts, will play Mobile Christian

By East Alabama Sports Today

MONTGOMERY – The Piedmont Bulldogs have had their eye on the prize since the first day of summer workouts. Even during the harshest days in the heat they never lost focus on a return to the state championship game.

The Bulldogs (14-0) have made it back and will be playing Mobile Christian (13-1) at 11 a.m. Thursday in Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium. They are one of three defending champions in the Super 7, and they’ll be playing one of four Super 7 first-timers.

“It’s been our goal; since the start of summer workouts we’ve been killing ourselves out here,” quarterback Taylor Hayes said. “It’s great to go back, especially our seniors who went back last year. It’s fun to go back to back and make a little history and hope we can finish it off Thursday.

“I think it’s the same thing as last year – it’s a business trip. We’re all going to cherish these memories and have fun, but when it comes down to it, it’s a business trip and we’re there for one reason, to win state.”

A win would give the Bulldogs back-to-back state titles for the first time in school history, complete their first 15-0 season and first undefeated season since 1945, and extend their winning streak to the 25 games. They haven’t lost to a Class 3A team since Madison Academy beat them in the second round of the 2014 playoffs.

“You try to set goals every year for your team, try to find something that you’ve never done before,” Bulldogs coach Steve Smith said. “This year’s team’s goal was try to go 15-0. We’ve never been undefeated, but we always kept the mindset that to be 15-0 you have to be 3-0 and then 5-0 and then 7-0, 10-0 or whatever.

“Our guys have done an outstanding job of taking that one game at a time mentality and be able to get it to this point to where we have got a chance. We have a chance.”

The Leopards are coached by Ronnie Cottrell, a former recruiting coordinator at Alabama and Florida State.

Maplesville (13-0) is in the Class 1A state finals for the fourth straight year. Coach Brent Hubbert’s Red Devils will be going for third state title in a row Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m. against Pickens County (11-3). The Tornadoes were the last 1A school to beat Maplesville in the playoffs – a 38-18 in the 2013 state finals.

Hubbert’s squad has a 99-8 record since 2009, currently owns a 22-game winning streak and has won 41 of its last 42 games.

Defending Class 7A state champion McGill-Toolen Catholic (13-0) will be facing perennial powerhouse Hoover (11-2).

Birmingham city schools Wenonah (11-2) and Ramsay (12-2) and Class 5A Beauregard (12-1) are in Super 7 Championships for the first time.

Wenonah avenged its only region loss of the year beating Briarwood Christian to set up Thursday night’s final versus Beauregard. Ramsay, which played football from 1939-1976, disbanded its program for 38 years before hiring coach Reuben Nelson away from Midfield to start the program back from scratch in 2014. Now, the Rams are 12-2 and in the 6A state finals Friday against powerful Opelika (13-1).

The remaining championship matchups include: Fyffe (14-0) and Aliceville (13-1) in Class 2A; Handley (12-2) and Madison Academy (11-3) in Class 4A.


Coaches – Piedmont: Steve Smith (11th year, 123-23; overall, 207-68, 22 years); Mobile Christian: Ronnie Cottrell (1st year, 13-1; overall in Alabama, 76-58, 12 years).

Records – Piedmont 14-0, Mobile Christian 13-1.

Scoring – Piedmont 600-265, Mobile Christian 473-148.

Playoff history – Piedmont has made 20 playoff appearances with a 38-18 record, 2-0 in the championship game. Mobile Christian has made 26 playoff appearances with a 24-23 record, 3-4 in the championship game.

Previous meeting – This is the first meeting between the teams.

Championship history – Piedmont: 2015, 44-7 win over Bayside Academy; 2009, 35-28 OT win over Cordova. Mobile Christian: 1998, 29-13 loss to Morgan Academy; 1996, 17-13 loss to Wilcox Academy; 1995, 31-6 win over Lowndes Academy; 1983, 28-0 win over Westminster; 1979, 17-14 win over Briarwood; 1978, 51-22 loss to Westminster; 1977, 24-0 loss to Briarwood.

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