E.A. Sports Today

Long time coming

Ohatchee wins first region football title in 16 years with first win over Ranburne since 1996; McCombs strong in return

Ohatchee’s Cam McCombs bulls his way for yardage against Ranburne Friday night. On the cover, the Indians celebrate their first region championship since 2002. (All photos by Beverly Wright)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OHATCHEE — The Ohatchee Indians had Friday night’s game with Ranburne circled for a long time. The mark wasn’t as heavy on their calendar, though, as the one Cam McCombs has around his.

The Indians knew the game would be for the Class 2A Region 6 championship. McCombs knew it too, but the date held even more meaning for him as the game he pegged as his return from an early-season ankle injury.

Ohatchee’s Baylee Graham (10) leaps into the arms of teammate Woodrow Vice as the Indians celebrate winning their region championship.

The second-ranked Indians brought home their first region title since 2002 when they blanked the Bulldogs 28-0 and McCombs was a huge part of it.

He scored two touchdowns and made several big plays on defense. It didn’t go unnoticed, either. As he came off the field one of the Ohatchee assistants slapped him on the shoulder pads and said “Welcome back.”

“I loved every minute of it,” McCombs said. “My friend’s grandmom (Woodrow Vice/Beverly Wright) is a photographer on the sideline and I told her don’t take it personal or anything but I love it w-a-a-y more out on the field than I do standing over here.

“I love playing. I just try to do the best of my ability to give us a region championship, something we haven’t had in a very long time around here.”

McCombs hurt his right ankle in the Indians’ second region game against Cleveland on Sept. 14. He played a little the next week against Westbrook Christian, but then the Indians shut him down and he was shelved for the next two games and their open week.

He made his presence felt on Ohatchee’s sixth play from scrimmage Friday when the Indians found Ranburne in a favorable scheme and he raced 45 yards with a Grayson Alward pass “that couldn’t be any more perfect” for the game’s first touchdown. And then he went back out on defense the next play and helped throw Ranburne’s Christian Smith for a loss. He had 2.5 other sacks the rest of the half.

“It’s been a month since he played and he came in and did a great job,” Ohatchee coach Scott Martin said.

“I kept begging the coaches to go back in for Leeds and West End, just dress me in case they need me,” McCombs said. “They said no we need you 100 percent for the Ranburne region championship — the big one — and I was like OK. Today finally came and I’ve been waiting for this moment for a l-o-o-ng time. I was just ready to play. I was just hun-n-n-gry. I was so happy to be back my adrenaline was like 110 out of a hundred; it was just way up there. I was trying to give 120 percent the whole time. That was all my heart in that game.”

McCombs also scored on a 27-yard run in the fourth quarter. Domonique Thomas, who was one month old when the Indians won their last region title, had a 36-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and Alward sealed the victory with a 50-yard touchdown run with less than six minutes to play.

Thomas finished with 102 yards rushing, while McCombs and Alward combined for 107.

“It feels great for our community,” Thomas said. “I’m just proud of my team because that’s been our goal since the beginning. I’m proud of the way we executed and now it’s time to celebrate.”

“This feeling (of winning the region) is unexplainable,” Alward said. “It’s the best feeling ever.”

The Indians’ defense was all over the Bulldogs, a team that had scored more than 40 points five times this season. They held Ranburne to 161 net yards, just 38 in the second half. They forced quarterback Josh Ralston into a big loss on fourth-and-goal from the 5 on the final play of the first quarter and turned back a pass for Caleb Hornsby in the end zone on the final play of the first half.

“The old adage is offense wins games but defense wins championships,” Martin said. “And tonight our defense was lights out. Our plan was not to let them have anything cheap and long and make them drive the length of the field. We just didn’t think they could do that all night and we were right. It ended up being exactly like that.”

Ohatchee 28, Ranburne 0
Team stats Ran Ohat

First downs 13 10
Rushes-yds 35-61 30-226
Passes 13-22-1 2-4-0
Passing yds 100 62
Fumbles-lost 3-0 0-0
Punts-avg 5-23.4 3-35.7
Penalties-yds 5-47 1-15

Scoring summary
Ranburne 0 0 0 0 – 0
Ohatchee 7 0 0 14 – 28

O – Cam McCombs 45 pass from Grayson Alward (Gage Harrell kick), 8:22 1Q
O – Domonique Thomas 36 run (Gage Harrell kick), 2:35 2Q
O – Cam McCombs 27 run (Gage Harrell kick), 10:19 4Q
O – Grayson Alward 50 run (Gage Harrell kick), 5:49 4Q

You must be logged in to post a comment Login