E.A. Sports Today

A ‘special’ season

No. 2 Ohatchee completes ‘truly special’ undefeated regular season with win over Pleasant Valley

Ohatchee running back Domonique Thomas (7) looks for running room after taking a handoff from quarterback Grayson Alward (11). (All photos by B.J. Franklin)

Click on this link www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com to see a photo gallery from tonight’s game.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OHATCHEE — Ohatchee coach Scott Martin stood on the far end of Roy C. Owens Field while his players gathered in the end zone to hear the band play and was silently calculating just how long it’s been. You could sense the wheels spinning as he was doing the math in his head.

The Indians completed their first undefeated regular season in football since 1976 Thursday night when they beat Pleasant Valley 26-6 in the final game of the regular season for both teams. It was a long time.

The second-ranked Indians went 9-0 and completed their triple crown of goals of being Class 2A Region 6 region champions, undefeated region champions and undefeated overall over each of the last three weeks.

They start after a fourth goal — finishing the season off with a state championship — next week when they host Cedar Bluff in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs.

“It’s truly a special season for the young men to come out and achieve as they have,” Martin said as the rain started to fall. “I was 14 years old the last time they had an undefeated season here, which means most of my staff was not even born yet. I know our kids weren’t born yet, but most of our staff was not born yet, so it’s been a long time for Ohatchee.

“It’s been 42 years since we’ve had an undefeated season and I’ll promise you there aren’t many people in this stadium who remember that. The ones that do remember it, tonight probably means more to them than anybody.”

You have to go back to the Bicentennial to discover the last time Ohatchee went undefeated in the regular season. The 1975 and 1976 teams both went 10-0.

The Indians used a punishing rushing game and stingy defense to beat the Raiders and complete this year’s run. They rushed for 295 yards and used two time-consuming drives to score their first two touchdowns.

Domonique Thomas rushed for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Ryker Lambright had 48 yards rushing and quarterback Grayson Alward had 100, and both scored a touchdown.

Defensively, the Indians held PV to 92 yards rushing and 151 yards total.

“I’ve said this all along that offense wins games but defense wins championships,” Martin said, “and we’re region champions and we’re undefeated because we’ve got a danged good defense.

“Our offense speaks for itself, but it’s all built around you’ve got to be a good defensive football team and we played really good tonight defensively.”

Despite losing its regular-season finale Pleasant Valley completed a long list of improvements and accomplishments in its season, not the least of which was this class of seniors improved its win total each year under fourth-year coach Jonathan Nix.

The Raiders (5-5), looking to end the season with their 100th all-time victory in school history, had their first .500 regular-season since 2010, their first non-losing season since 2008 and played an entire season without being shutout for the first time since 2013. They scored a school-record 282 points, scored more points than they allowed for the first time since 2010 and virtually doubled their season production in total offense compared to their first season under Nix.

Brody Phillips’ 2-yard touchdown run in the final 90 seconds of the first half broke the single-season scoring record of 279 points set in 2007.

“We made a list of probably 20 different accomplishments that these seniors were responsible for,” Nix said. “I know you don’t do anything but yourself, you had to have the underclassmen helping them, but there’s a list of several things.

“It’s a lot of danged hard work, sweat, blood, everybody believing in the same thing and working your butt off in the off-season. You can’t say Rome and a day in the same sentence. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so each year you have to get better, you have to commit more and you have to realize you have to amp it up.

“There are so many positives. It’s not the outlook we wanted to finish with right there, but, to me, it ought to motivate you to how can I grind harder in the offseason to just amp something up a little better.”

Ohatchee 26, Pleasant Valley 6
Team stats PV Ohat

First downs 7 17
Rushes-yds 26-92 57-295
Passes 4-14-0 1-3-0
Passing yds 59 36
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-0
Punts-avg 5-34.80-0
Penalties-yds 2-20 4-45

Scoring summary
Pleasant Valley 0 6 0 0 – 6
Ohatchee 7 6 7 6 – 26

O – Ryker Lambright 4 run (Gage Harrell kick), 4:43 1Q
O – Domonique Thomas 1 run (kick failed), 6:33 2Q
PV – Brody Phillips 2 run (kick failed), 1:24 2Q
O – Grayson Alward 13 run (Gage Harrell kick), 3:36 3Q
O – Domonique Thomas 36 run (kick failed), 8:58 4Q

Ohatchee defenders Baylee Graham (10) and Noah Fuller (3) close in on Pleasant Valley’s Jake Malsy in the first half of Thursday’s game.

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