E.A. Sports Today

Saks in control

Wildcats have just as easy a time handling Cherokee County in playoffs as they did in regular season, will travel to Fayette County next

JaDarris Griffin burst through the middle for a 70-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter to give Saks a 14-0 lead. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Area playoff scores
4A: Saks 42, Cherokee County 14
3A: Piedmont 34, Colbert Heights 13
6A: Clay Chalkville 31, Oxford 15
3A: Randolph County 55, Sylvania 24
1A: Wadley 34, Marengo 20

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

After handling a team rather easily in the regular season and having to face them again in the playoffs, it’s understandable to be concerned about the ability to take that team seriously in a very serious game.

Saks coach Jonathan Miller had those concerns going into Friday’s Class 3A quarterfinal game with region rival Cherokee County, but it didn’t take long for the Wildcats to set their coach’s mind at ease.

The Wildcats scored on four of their first five possessions of the game and rolled past the Warriors 42-14. They will travel to Fayette County (11-2) next week to play for a trip to state championship game in Tuscaloosa.

“You never know how things are going to go the second time you play a team,” Miller said. “I think that’s what’s so unique about tonight. You don’t know how seriously they’re going to take the game or how serious they’re going to take practice even, but we had a decent week.

“There were certain times in practice I didn’t think we were locked in. We just talked to them all week how this was going to be a different game. I think in the first half we did a good job of taking control of the game. We really controlled the line of scrimmage the first four drives and … I thought that was huge.”

Saks handled the Warriors 45-0 in their regular-season region meeting in early October. This one wasn’t quite like that, but early on it seemed headed that way.

The Wildcats (13-0) opened a 14-0 lead less than six minutes into the game and a 28-0 lead with more than five minutes left in the first half on a two touchown runs each by Johnathan Cobb (4 and 29 yards) and JaDarris Griffin (70 and 11).

They rushed for 374 yards as a team. Cobb went for 122, Griffin went for 126 and Roilan Torres went for 114 (all in the fourth quarter).

“The whole week we heard people telling us we couldn’t take them lightly,” Cobb said. “Early on we established the line of scrimmage like we had been doing all year. We’ve got to keep doing it.”

The defense, meanwhile, never gave Warriors quarterback Tyren Dupree much room to breath. It was constantly in the Warriors’ backfield dropping Dupree and other ballcarriers for losses.

The Wildcats held Cherokee County to minus-10 yards of net rushing, including eight plays for negative yards.

“I thought we got good pressure on Dupree all night,” Miller said. “That’s one thing that probably might go unnoticed by a lot of people, but T.J. Gibbs, Jaylen Childs, Nijia Parker, there were a bunch of guys in that backfield all night.”

“I just kept telling them after every drive to keep their energy up, keep pushing, because they were going to come to play so we had to keep on going,” Kaynan Mays said.

There won’t be any doubt about the Wildcats not being focused on their opponent next week. Last year, the Tigers knocked them in the opening round with a losing record.

“We left that game disappointed last year,” Miller said. “But we’re a different team this year.”

To see a photo gallery from this game, visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

[table id=100 /]

Cherokee County 0 7 0 7 — 14
Saks 14 14 7 7 — 42

S – Johnathan Cobb 4 run (Anthony Cornejo kick), 5:50 1Q
S – JaDarris Griffin 70 run (Anthony Cornejo kick), 0:18 1Q
S – Jonathan Cobb 29 run (Anthony Cornejo kick), 9:49 2Q
S – JaDarris Griffin 11 run (Anthony Cornejo kick), 6:39 2Q
CC – Sidney Perry 11 pass from Tyren Dupree (Gustav Jensen kick), 1:24 2Q
S – Rodolfo Torres 33 pass from Laderrick Bell (Anthony Cornejo kick), 5:20 3Q
CC – Sidney Perry 75 blocked FG return (Gustav Jensen kick), 7:22 4Q
S – Laderrick Bell 5 run (Anthony Cornejo kick), 0:53 4Q

Roilan Torres (15) and the rest of the Saks defense made life difficult for Cherokee County quarterback Tyren Dupree all night. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

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