E.A. Sports Today

Finding their man

Pell City junior Gossett has shown increased improvement throughout the summer, passes Panthers to Piedmont title

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

PIEDMONT – There were times when he contemplated the future of his offense for this 100th season of football at his school that Pell City coach Wayne Lee wondered if he were doing the right thing at quarterback.

Junior Mitchell Gossett has given the new Panthers coach every reason to think he’s made the right move.

Gossett was 8-for-8 with three touchdowns in his three series of the championship game at Saturday’s Piedmont Passing Camp as the Panthers handled Handley 18-0 for the title.

It was Pell City’s third championship in four 7-on-7 events this summer, and Gossett has been increasingly sharper in each one. The Panthers also won at Mountain Brook and at Childersburg Thursday night.

“Between our JV and our varsity Thursday we played 14 games and they rolled back around in here on a hot Saturday on the turf and played well today, especially right here at the end,” Lee said. “The last two times (Gossett) has been really good.

“This is his first time out here and it’s been a progress with him, but he’s getting better and better every time we step on the field. I know we’ve got to put pads on and all that, but it’s a good confidence builder and just so many good reps against different people.”

In Thursday’s FCA tournament at Childersburg, Gossett threw 30 touchdowns in seven games, leading the team to six wins and a tie. In Saturday’s final he threw touchdown passes to Dylan Thomas (18 yards), Collier Slovensky (2 yards) and Ian Crow (40 yards) – the same three receivers he found for touchdowns in the Childersburg title game.

“I did my best today out of any camp I’ve played this year and last year a little bit,” said Gossett, 7-1 as the JV starter last year. “I couldn’t do anything without the receivers making great catches.”

Don’t feel too badly for Handley coming up short. When the Tigers finished second here in 2016, they went on to win the Class 4A state championship that fall. The team that won the tournament that year – Piedmont – also won a state championship.

“Let’s just go win another one; that’d be fine with me,” Handley coach Larry Strain said.

The Tigers brought their starting quarterback QuonDarius Lyons, but played mostly sophomore Evan Cofield and freshman Taye Snead in the passing tournament because Lyons’ forte is as a runner. Cofield showed his poise with a touchdown and conversion to Devontae Houston in the final four plays to edge Piedmont 25-19 in the semifinals. All three quarterbacks will play during the season.

“The whole key is about competing, coming up here and competing,” Strain said. “The truth is we’re very young. I’m playing three, four ninth graders out there starting for me on offense and defense. We know the future is bright for us.

“Won the state championship in 2016, (went) 2-8 last year after losing those 27 seniors, but I played a bunch of babies last year. To come back down here and compete – last year I think we got beat in the first round of the tournament – that’s what it’s about. We’re excited about the way our kids competed today.”

Pool Records
POOL A: Handley 5-0, Jacksonville 3-2, Ranburne 3-2, West End 2-3, Southside 2-3, Piedmont II 0-5.
POOL B: Pell City 5-0, Piedmont 3-1, Cleburne County 3-2, Coosa Christian 2-3, Pisgah 1-4, St. Clair County 0-4.

Bracket Games
First round

Handley 19, Coosa Christian 6
Piedmont 13, Ranburne 0
Pell City 20, West End 6
Jacksonville 19, Cleburne County 18
Southside 12, Pisgah 8
Piedmont II 18, St. Clair County 6
Handley 25, Piedmont 19
Pell City 13, Jacksonville 6
Pell City 18, Handley 0

Cover photo: Pell City junior quarterback Mitchell Gusset went 8-for-8 with three touchdowns in the championship game of Saturday’s 11th annual Piedmont Passing Tournament.

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