E.A. Sports Today

A look back – Wellborn

EDITOR’S NOTE: The coronavirus pandemic has turned our world upside down these past few months and the absence of sports has been tough on avid sports fans. We can only hope the football seasons can go off as scheduled this fall. As we wait, there has been plenty of time to reflect on high school football in Calhoun County.
The following is part of a 14-part series compiled by East Alabama Sports Today contributor Brant Locklier that looks back on the past decade of football for each of the 13 county football-playing schools. The 2020 season that may or may not be will be center stage for the first time at the Calhoun County QB Club Media Day July 24.
Special thanks goes to Ashleigh Jackson, who keyed in all the scores and the website, “The History of Alabama High School Football,” for their information. 

Wellborn – Revived by Smith

Summary: The once proud Walter Wellborn football program was floundering, winning only 12 games from 2003 to 2008. The answer was Jeff Smith as he was brought back to coach his alma mater in 2009 and has built the program back to its once proud level. The Panthers had 12 wins in 2019 alone, scored a school record 561 points and tied a school record by winning three play-off games.
The Panthers won 70 games and lost 42 in the last decade. In 2019 they went 12-2 and made a run to the semi-finals of the state play-offs before losing to state champion Piedmont, a team they beat in a shootout late in the regular season to share the region title. They averaged 40.1 points a game while allowing only 17.7 points per game.
Smith produced seven play-off teams and nine winning seasons in the decade. They had a highly successful 43-25 record in region play, while playing in the toughest region in the state. The 12 wins in 2019 was tied for the second most in school history behind the 13-1 Wellborn team of 1977. 
High Point: The high point came in 2019 when the Panthers won a wild 40-35 shootout over the unbeaten and defending state champion Piedmont Bulldogs. It was a sign that Wellborn was back to competing with the big boys of 3A football. They also knocked off Randolph County 27-20 in the third round of the play-offs in 2019.
Low Point: The 2017 season fell apart for the Panthers as they dropped to 2-8 for the year. The low point had to be a season-ending 18-0 loss at White Plains. There was a tough 28-27 loss to Randolph County that ended the Panthers’ play-off hopes in 2016 that had to rank up there. 
Home Record: The Panthers finished the decade with a 36-20 home mark. The 2012 Panther team had a decade-best 6-1 home mark and the 2019 team went 5-1. They averaged 32 points a game at home in the decade and allowed 20 points a game.
Away Record: Wellborn was 33-23 on the road during the past decade. Their best road record came in 2019 when they won seven of eight games. The 2011 team was the next best at 5-1. 
Play-Offs: The Panthers had 15 play-off games in the decade with eight wins against seven losses. Their biggest run came in 2019 with play-off wins at Locust Fork 54-14, at home over Susan Moore 21-14 and at Randolph Co. 27-20.
Streaks: The decade began with six straight years of making the play-offs. The 2011 team got off to a blazing 6-0 start, a decade-best until the 2019 team came along and won their first seven games.
Coaches: Jeff Smith is the only Panthers coach of the decade. He is 150-104 in 24 years with stops at Ohatchee, Hueytown and Wellborn.
Players: Jett Smith, the son of the head coach, was first team all-state at linebacker in 2018 and 2019. Offensive linemen Dylan and Dalton Gilbert were first team all-state also in 2019. Jordan Montgomery and Landon Machristie were all state selections. Montgomery was selected as an athlete in 2015 and Machristie was selected on the team in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Cori Tignor (2014), Devron Taylor (2013), Jaleel Burton (2012, 2013), Chantz Goodman (2012), Dalton Screws (2011) and Delrickus (2010) are other Panthers earning all-state honors.
Toughest Opponent: Piedmont held a 6-1 advantage over the Panthers in the last decade. Randolph County was 4-1 against the Panthers. Wellborn got its only wins over these teams in 2019. 
Easiest Opponent:Pleasant Valley took the most lumps from Wellborn during the decade as the Panthers won seven of eight games. Wellborn was 6-3 against Weaver during the decade, but special note should be made of the two games against Victory Christian. The Panthers won by a combined score of 151-0 in those two contests.
Best Offense: The Panther offense in 2019 scored the most points (40.1) of any Panther offense in history in 14 games, while the 2012 team did not score as many points, but in 12 games averaged 40.7 points a game.
Best Defense: The best defense went to the 2019 team that only allowed 17.7 points a game. The 2013 team was next with a 19.9 average.
Best Team: The 2019 team won 12 games, scored the most points ever at Wellborn, had three all-state players, and beat the eventual state champions Piedmont during the regular season. 
2020 Wellborn Schedule
(Pre-pandemic, opponent 2019 records in parenthesis)
Aug. 21 – vs. Anniston
Aug. 28 –Open
Sept. 4 – at Ohatchee (10-1)
Sept. 11 – vs. Saks (4-5)
Sept. 18 – at Pleasant Valley (5-5)
Sept. 25 – at Hamilton (8-3)
Oct. 02 – vs. Glencoe (1-9)
Oct. 09 – at Hokes Bluff (9-4)
Oct, 16 – vs. Weaver (0-10)
Oct. 23 – vs. Piedmont (14-1)
Oct. 30 – Open

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