E.A. Sports Today

Dawgs’ defense dominates

Anniston wraps up a winning regular season with a dominating shutout against Childersburg, travels to Deshler for opening round of Class 4A playoffs

Several Anniston defenders converge on Childersburg running back Maurice Bennett (3) Friday night. The Bulldogs held the Tigers to negative yardage in the first half. (Photos by B.J. Franklin)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Everyone wants to know as soon as the final regular-season game hits 0:00 just how ready a team is for the playoffs.

There’s no doubt Anniston’s defense is ready for post-season play. The Bulldogs held Childersburg to negative net yardage for most of the game and posted a 23-0 shutout to complete its first winning regular season since 2011.

The Bulldogs (6-4) travel to Deshler in Friday’s opening round of the Class 4A playoffs.

“Defensively, we’ve played well all year, so if we continue playing like that I think our chances are good, even though we’re playing a great Deshler team that has tradition,” Anniston coach Rico White said. “We’ve got to come ready to play and I think our defense should do well. Our offense has picked up as the season’s gone on, but they’re getting where they need to be.”

All told, the Bulldogs held Childersburg to 21 yards of net offense. The Tigers didn’t hit and stay in positive territory until midway through the third quarter and then had only 2 yards net by quarter’s end.

Each time the Tigers would encroach on getting out of the red, the Bulldogs would throw them back. They got to plus-1 on a 5-yard fourth-down pass that moved the chains early in the second quarter and the next four plays resulted in two losses, an incompletion and a blocked punt. They got back to zero net yards early in the third quarter and the next play got thrown for a nine-yard loss.

The Bulldogs had three interceptions, a blocked punt and two fumble recoveries. Damecus Thomas has two of the picks, had a third in his breadbasket, and the blocked punt. John Foster forced two fumbles.

“Our defense is pretty stout,” White said. “They made plays when they should have. They had some opportunities that they took advantage of.”

“It was a great game,” Thomas said. “It was Senior Night. We had great team play. The defense came up and played our game. It’s a great team win. It’s a good feeling for the defense and the team as a whole going into the playoffs.”

Offensively, the Bulldogs were good enough to get the job done against the Tigers, but coach White knows it’ll have to be much sharper next week. Tyson Spidell rushed for 143 yards and the first touchdown of the game. Darionta Bell rushed for 62 yards and the Bulldogs’ other two touchdowns.

“The biggest thing with (Bell) this year is he hasn’t been just sticking it up in there like you want him to so we went with the other senior,” White said, “but he’s picked it up as the season went on so we’ll be expecting great things from him next week.”

The win was Anniston’s fourth in a row and gave the Bulldogs their winningest season since 2011, the year they went 9-5 and reached the state semifinals. They’ve also had more wins this year than the last two years combined.

Childersburg has lost five in a row and seven of their last eight.

“It’s been a great season for us,” White said. “To finish 6-4 was important to us. I predicted that we’d go undefeated. I had to set the standard very high coming in my first year. What would I look like saying we’ll go 5-5 or we’ll go 4-4 or just a building year; nah, we want to win right now. It’s hard to tell seniors we’re in a rebuilding stage and this is their last year. We want to set the bar high and look where we’re at – we’re in the playoffs.”

Anniston 23, Childersburg 0
Team stats Chil Ann

First downs 5 12
Rushes-yds 36-7 42-234
Passes 5-16-3 3-13-0
Passing yds 14 55
Fumbles-lost 3-2 4-1
Punts-avg 5-29.0 3-19.0
Penalties-yds 2-30 7-50

Scoring summary
Childersburg 0 0 0 0 – 0
Anniston 7 6 0 10 – 23

A – Tywon Spidell 45 run (Kevin Escareno kick), 4:09 1Q
A – Darionta Bell 11 run (kick failed), 10:40 2Q
A – Kevin Escareno 22 FG, 8:14 4Q
A – Darionta Bell 23 10 run (Kevin Escareno kick), 0:05 4Q

Click on the link www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com to see more pictures from tonight’s game

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