E.A. Sports Today

Top dogs

Piedmont jumps on Wellborn early, holds onto its share of region lead, holds tiebreaker for region crown

By John Mitchell
For East Alabama Sports Today

PIEDMONT – Like all prized heavyweight fighters, every now and then you are going to take one on the chin. The Piedmont Bulldogs took one on the chin on Wellborn’s opening drive Friday night, an eight-play, 50-yard march to the end zone capped by an eight-yard touchdown run by Calvin Spinks.

But like all the best heavyweights, the Bulldogs absorbed that initial blow and came back with a devastating knockout blow that consisted of 42 straight points en route to a 54-27 victory at the Field of Champions.

The Bulldogs (7-2, 6-1) answered Wellborn’s opening salvo quickly, marching 65 yards on five plays, finished off by a 33-yard touchdown run by Kaedon Jenkins. They didn’t look back from there as they piled on the Panthers, with both teams emptying their benches in the second half of a game that was long since decided.

The win all but assures the Bulldogs’ the Class 3A, Region 6 championship. With Randolph County (8-1, 6-1) and Saks (8-1, 6-1) both winning tonight to force a three-way tie atop the region standings, the tiebreaker for the title should come down to combined victories for defeated opponents in-class, above class or one-class below.

Piedmont has the edge. The Bulldogs defeated 2A Addison (7-2) in the season opener, giving them the most designated points. Saks has two wins over 4A schools – Alabama Christian and Cleburne County – with four combined victories and it only scheduled nine games so it won’t get a shot in the final week to add to that total.

Randolph County’s only non-region game that will count in the formula is its win over 2A Woodland (2-6). The Tigers’ two other non-conference opponents, Notasulga and Wadley, are both 1A teams.

That would put Piedmont as the region champion, Randolph County second, and Saks third, with Randolph County’s win over Saks taking affect after the first tiebreaker is decided between the three schools. Weaver clinched the fourth spot and a playoff berth tonight with a win over B.B. Comer in what has been a brutal region.

“We’ve got two teams in Wellborn and Pleasant Valley that won’t be in the playoffs that would be in the playoffs in probably every other region in 3A,” Piedmont head coach Steve Smith said. “You talk about six quality teams and every week is a battle.”

Piedmont scored touchdowns on its first four possessions of the game, and might’ve gotten a fifth had there been some more time on the clock in the first half. Instead, they settled for a 33-yard field goal from junior Bryce Walter that put them up 29-7 at the half.

Senior quarterback Mason Mohon’s play sparked Piedmont in the first half. After Jenkins’ touchdown on the first drive, Mohon accounted for the Bulldogs next three touchdowns – two touchdown passes to senior Delo Foster and a 19-yard run.

For the game, Mohon completed 10-of-11 passes for 175 yards, and rushed for 42 yards on six carriers. Mohon gave way to eighth-grader Jack Hayes, who promptly threw two touchdowns on his first two pass attempts of the second half.

“Mason was super sharp tonight in warm-ups,” said Smith. “I told the coaches we were going to make a commitment to throw a little more just because he was throwing the ball really well during the warm-up time, and it carried over into the game.”

Piedmont had three receivers finish with at least 50 yards, with Foster catching three balls for 119 yards and taking them all to the end zone.

Any hopes that Wellborn had for a second half comeback were squashed when Piedmont’s T.J. Fairs took the opening kickoff of the half 80-yards for a touchdown. Two minutes later, Hayes hit Foster for a 79-yard touchdown that extended the Bulldogs lead to 42-7.

For Wellborn (5-5, 2-5), it was a disappointing end to the season as it dropped its final three games after a 5-2 start. The margins are razor-thin in a region with so much talent. The Panthers dropped two region games – at Weaver and at home against Pleasant Valley – by one point each.

Close losses are to be expected for a team so bereft of veterans – the Panthers roster consists of only three seniors, none of whom are starters, but they’re a gritty team that fights until the very end.

“They don’t have a single senior starting, and they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with in the future,” said Smith.” A lot of respect for Coach (Jeff) Smith and that program at Wellborn; they play so hard and brighter days are ahead for them.”

This was Wellborn’s final game of the season, and the Panther’ attention is already turning to 2019.

“I think we’ve got some very good young players,” said Wellborn’s Smith. “This year was a good learning experience for them. We’ve got them all back, and I think from today until May is six months until we put the pads back on. I think we’ll see a lot of growth, and the kids will get a lot bigger and stronger and faster by the time we start up in May.”

One of those good young players is Spinks, a sophomore running back who was the lone bright spot for the Wellborn offense. He accumulated 139 yards on 13 carries, taking two of them for touchdowns as he continued to fight even when it was futile.

Piedmont finishes up the regular season next week on the road against the champions from 3A, Region 7, Geraldine (8-1), in a game that could be a playoff preview down the line. A brutal schedule, in region and out of region, has Piedmont seriously battle tested as they head into the postseason.

“I’ve been at Piedmont for 13 years and this is the first time that the region champion will have at least one loss,” said Smith. “Everybody just beats up on each other. The competition is great; the teams in this region, it’s a lot of fun to play against all of them, and I expect our region to do well in the playoffs.”

Piedmont 54, Wellborn 27
Team stats Pied Well

First downs 20 13
Rushes-yds 31-202 44-271
Passes 13-14-0 0-1-1
Passing yds 304 0
Fumbles-lost 2-1 3-2
Punts-avg 1-37.0 4-26.5
Penalties-yds 8-70 2-10

Scoring Summary
Wellborn 7 0 7 13 – 27
Piedmont 20 9 25 0 – 54

W – Calvin Spinks 8 run (Logan Brooks kick), 7:59 1Q
P – Kaedon Jenkins 33 run (Brant Deerman kick), 6:16 1Q
P – Delo Foster 30 pass from Mason Mohon (Brant Deerman kick), 3:54 1Q
P – Mason Mohon 19 run (kick blocked), 1:51 1Q
P – Delo Foster 10 pass from Mason Mohon (conversion failed), 7:02 2Q
P – Bryce Walter 33 FG, 0:00 2Q
P – T.J. Fair 80 kickoff return (kick blocked), 11:45 3Q
P – Delo Foster 79 pass from Jack Hayes (Brant Deerman kick), 9:09 3Q
W – Calvin Spinks 13 run (Logan Brooks kick), 5:31 3Q
P – Shane Estes 49 pass from Jack Hayes (kick failed), 3:41 3Q
P – Carl Myers 100 fumble return (kick failed), 0:07 3Q
W – Kentrez Hunt 3 run (Logan Brooks kick), 11:53 4Q
W – Joshua Rittenhouse 10 run (conversion failed) 4:22 4Q

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