E.A. Sports Today

Panthers big move

Wellborn shuts down Saks 34-14 to take a big step towards becoming a playoff team 
 
NEXT WEEK’S COUNTY SCHEDULE
Alexandria at Crossville
Anniston at Hokes Bluff
Cleburne County at Jacksonville
Glencoe at Wellborn
Oxford at Pinson Valley
Saks at Pleasant Valley
Spring Garden at Donoho
Weaver at Piedmont
Westbrook Christian at Ohatchee
White Plains at Cherokee County

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
 
Usually it’s the head coach that has to calm down his quarterback in the run up to the biggest game of the year, but this time it was the quarterback – and son – who kept the head coach – and dad – together.
 
Wellborn took a big step towards becoming a Class 3A playoff team Friday night when it shut down Saks 34-14.
 
The win gave the Panthers (4-0) a victory over a team they absolutely had to beat if they wanted to be in the playoff picture and set them on a path to clinching a playoff berth in a couple weeks and a possible region championship.
 
Wellborn coach Jeff Smith said he had been in “stress mode” about getting this game from minute last week’s game with Weaver ended. Quarterback Jett Smith agreed his father was tense.

The Panthers hadn’t been to the playoffs since 2015, hadn’t beaten Saks since 2016 and haven’t been 4-0 since 2012. They hadn’t won more than two region games since 2015 and now they have beaten the two teams they had to take down to get a leg up in the playoff race.

“We always say one game at a time, but I feel like this game was really important,” Jett Smith said. “Every time he came home he’d come in and want me to talk to him about it. I told him we’d be fine if we do what we’re supposed to. I think he was just really hungry to win this game. He just wanted us to go out there and do our best. He knew it was important.”
 
“I had been steady praying for this game since we walked off that field against Weaver,” Jeff Smith said. “I said if the good Lord would bless us tonight I would give all glory to Him, and I mean that. I hope that doesn’t sound because we had a big win I’m saying that because it’s the truth.”

Jett Smith calmed his dad during the week and did everything he could during the game. He was responsible for three touchdowns – one rushing, one passing and one on a 93-yard interception return. He rushed for 53 yards and was 4-for-4 passing, including a 15-yard TD pass to tight end Trey Berry they repped in practice all week.
 
It was a typical Wellborn game in which the Panthers dominated the trenches with their veteran offensive line, many of whom are part of the Gang of 16 that have been playing together since youth football. Behind that line, Kentrez Hunt rushed for 127 yards, Calvin Spinks rushed for 54 and Bryson Heath 75.The defense, meanwhile, held Saks to less than 190 yards of offense through three quarters and out of the end zone until the fourth.
 
“If you’d have told me we were going to be able to contain them like we did right there I wouldn’t have believed it,” Jeff Smith said. “I do believe it because I saw it. I was so proud of the effort the kids gave.”
 
The loss sent Saks into a must-win game with Pleasant Valley next week to keep its playoff hopes alive and throw the race for the region’s No. 4 team into a jumble.
 
Saks coach Jonathan Miller confirmed after the game senior quarterback Roilan Torres was out for the rest of the season with another knee injury. Backup Sean Parnell played the whole game and directed the Wildcats to a pair of touchdowns in the final eight minutes.
 
He scored on an 8-yard run to get the Wildcats on the board and threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Goedde after Will Mixson raced down to recover the kickoff that was not the onsides variety Wellborn was expecting. He was 12 of 19 passing for 129 yards.
 
“We’re going to have to put the pieces together; we’re a little banged up,” Miller said. “It’s the next man up mentality. I’ll be honest with you, Roilan hasn’t played much at all this year, probably 20-25 snaps. Sean has played the majority of it.
 
“He’s done a heck of a job for a sophomore. We have not had to back off anything we’re doing as far as what we have in. He’s a real smart kid. The two smartest football players on our team are Roilan and Sean, so he can handle everything. He’s not going to b scared. He’s going to be a great player. He’s just young. We have a lot of young kids who are playing who are growing up and that’s good to see.”
 
Wellborn 34, Saks 14

Well (34)Saks (14)
18First downs7
40-309Rushes-yds27-126
4-4-0Passes12-19-1
52Passing yds129
0-0Fumbles-lost1-0
0-0Punts-avg2-31.0
4-43Penalty yds12-80

Wellborn 7 13 7 7 – 34
Saks   0 0 0  14 – 14
W – Jett Smith 1 run (Brandon Ramirez kick), 9:00 1Q
W –  Kentrez Hunt 15 run (kick failed), 10:29 2Q
W – Trey Berry 15 pass from Jett Smith (Brandon Ramirez kick), 54.8 2Q
W – Calvin Spinks 8 run (Brandon Ramirez kick), 5:25 3Q
W – Jett Smith 93 interception return (Brandon Ramirez kick), 11:40 4Q
S – Sean Parnell 8 run (run failed), 7:45 4Q
S – Kyle Goedde 6 pass from Sean Parnell (Kyle Goedde pass from Sean Parnell), 5:53 4Q

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