E.A. Sports Today

Piedmont celebrates

Bulldogs formally presented their second straight Class 3A state championship trophy from AHSAA

Executive director Steve Savarese (R) and Alvin Briggs of the AHSAA prepare to present Piedmont with the trophy for its Class 3A state football title. On the cover, the players rejoice. (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

PIEDMONT — Steve Smith held it in this year all the way to the end.

The Piedmont football coach presided over his second state trophy presentation in two years and third since 2009 Thursday and every one has been emotional.

This year Smith told himself he was going to try to hold his emotions in check better than the year before and he did, until right at the end. You had to look real close, but there were a few tears forming in the old-school coach’s eyes as the band played the alma mater to close the ceremony.

“I did better this year; I didn’t get too teary-eyed when I was talking,” he said. “I told myself that I’m not going to get emotional, but it’s awful hard when the foundation of what you do is dealing with these kids and these people, the parents, the fans, the family.

“I made the comment football is what I do, it’s not my life, it’s not who I am. But when you get all the people collected together … it gets a little bit emotional.”

Quarterback Taylor Hayes, the two-time title game MVP and Class 3A Back of the Year, noticed it and he understood.

“Coach Smith, he gets emotional at times, but who wouldn’t whenever you’ve been able to feel something like this and have this much success and help this many young men out, not just with football but with life,” he said. “He’s teared up before, but it takes a lot. I think that shows you how special really this is.”

The Bulldogs won their second straight Class 3A state championship in December, beating Mobile Christian 22-12 in Jordan-Hare Stadium to complete an undefeated (15-0) season. They own the state’s longest winning streak (25 games).

AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese was on campus for the second year in a row to present the official state championship trophy in front of the entire student body. School administrators and civic officials were also on hand; commissioner Lee Patterson read a proclamation from the Calhoun County Commission.

The players sat on the gym floor wearing yellow T-shirt embossed with the words “Back 2 Back State Champions, 2015-2016.”

Right guard Javien Woods, the second player to touch the trophy when it came around the day they won it, held the trophy high as the players gathered to show it off Thursday. It was only then the realization of another state title — and the end of a long and successful run for these seniors — finally hit.

“That’s every guy’s wish to hold the trophy in front of a gym full of people,” he said. “It’s a good feeling. It warms your body. Not many people get to do it and we’ve done it twice, back-to-back, it feels pretty good.”

“All the things that happen whenever you win state and stuff, it doesn’t really hit you at that moment,” left tackle Mason Langley said. “It hit me today that we are back-to-back state champs and we did go 15-0. And nothing can come in between that.”

Piedmont football coach Steve Smith reflects on the championship season after accepting the official trophy from the AHSAA and a nifty creation commemorating the feat by local radio station WCKA. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

To see more of B.J. Franklin’s photos from Thursday’s celebration visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

You must be logged in to post a comment Login