E.A. Sports Today

Wellborn on the cusp

After 0-3 start, Panthers on verge of Class 3A Region 5 playoff spot; Piedmont, Ohatchee, Saks remain tied at the top


Piedmont6-1, 4-1Saks, Glencoe, Weaver, PVOhatcheeHB, Wellborn9
Ohatchee4-3, 4-1Wellborn, HB, Piedmont, GlencoeSaksPV, Weaver0
Saks7-1, 4-1Wellborn, Ohatchee, PV, WeaverPiedmontGlencoe, HB9*
3-4, 3-2PV, Glencoe, WeaverOhatchee, WellbornPiedmont, Saks0
Wellborn4-3, 3-2PV, Glencoe, Hokes BluffOhatchee, SaksWeaver, Piedmont4
Weaver1-6, 1-4GlencoePV, Piedmont, HB, SaksWellborn, Ohatchee
1-6, 1-4WeaverHB, Wellborn, Saks, PiedmontOhatchee, Glencoe
Glencoe0-7, 0-5Weaver, Piedmont, HB, Wellborn, OhatcheeSaks, PV
NRW: Wins by defeated non-region opponents (tiebreaker); *-includes forfeit win

Ohatchee 41, Glencoe 14
Piedmont 56, Pleasant Valley 12
Saks 65, Weaver 7
Wellborn 30, Hokes Bluff 10

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Logan Nelson wants to give somebody on the Wellborn sideline an ice bath so bad he can’t stand it. But they had to pull the junior lineman back from the brink and told him he had to wait another week.

The Panthers’ comeback to a Class 3A Region 5 playoff berth isn’t all the way back, but it’s close they can feel it. They beat Hokes Bluff 30-10 Friday night on The Hill in what amounted to a playoff game.

They had to beat the Eagles to avoid being jettisoned into the world of region also-rans and now can clinch a playoff spot that seemed unlikely a month ago with a win next week at Weaver.

“People doubted us at the beginning of the season,” linebacker Brayden Dempsey said. “I’m so happy we’re one step away from the playoff and proving everybody wrong. Not a lot of people can say they started 0-3 and came back and won four straight.”

Hokes Bluff had a lot riding on the game, too. A win would’ve kept the Eagles in a four-way tie for first in the region (4-1) and shut the playoff portal on the rest of the region.Now, they need some good results against two of the top three teams in the league they finish against (Piedmont and Saks) to get in.

This is a Wellborn team that has overcome odds to get where they are today. They had only two returning starters on each side of the ball and started the season 0-3. Now, they have won four in a row to sit on the cusp of a third straight playoff spot.

“Before 0-3 nobody gave them credit for nothing,” Wellborn coach Jeff Smith said, reaching to embrace each player before they left the locker room. “We started 0-3 and I could get over there and hibernate and just focus on that, but there’s no telling what they heard. But when we played Saks, the team turned and we felt it. We lost, but I felt like we won because the team turned and look what we went to.”

The Panthers (4-3, 3-2) scored their latest victory in typical Wellborn fashion – with a run-dominated offense that spread the ball around and a defense that bent that didn’t break, holding the Eagles to field goal through three quarters and out of the end zone until late in the fourth.

Zay Parker led the offense with 107 yards rushing, two touchdowns and a couple two-point conversions. His 61-yard scoring burst with 1:53 to play provided the exclamation point.

“I just trying to put the icing on the cake, for real,” he said. “I didn’t think I was going to break it, but I when I saw an opening I was gone.”

Jesse Lewis ran for 51 yards and a score. Omarion Curry had 49 yards rushing and quarterback Grayson Johnson had 49 yards and a touchdown rushing and jump-started the Panthers’ offense with a 24-yard pass to Beau Neely after its first two plays from scrimmage went for negative yardage.

The players did get offensive coordinator Judd Smith with the water bucket immediately after the game, but the celebratory shower is expected to flow a lot more freely if they clinch a spot next week.

“I want to give it bad; I can’t stand it,” Nelson said. “Everybody doubted us. A bunch of people doubted on us, saying we weren’t going to be good. Well, we’re starting to get back.”

Wellborn 30, Hokes Bluff 10

Hokes Bluff (3-4, 3-2)0307 —10
Wellborn (4-3, 3-2)8886 —30

W — Xavier Parker 23 run (Jesse Lewis run), 8:11 1Q
W — Jesse Lewis 2 run (Xavier Parker run), 10:49 2Q
H — Jaden Burns 31 FG, 5:20 2Q
W — Grayson Johnson 1 run (Xavier Parker run), 4:16 3Q
H — William Wellingham 17 pass from Jordan Bradley (Jaden Burns kick), 5:16 4Q
W — Xavier Parker 61 run (kick failed), 1:53 4Q

HB (10)Well (30)
161st Downs12
115Passing yds34

Piedmont 56, Pleasant Valley 12

From staff reports

PIEDMONT – A lot of high school football coaches have a love-hate relationship with homecoming. Sometimes the festivities during the week distract from the game itself, but the fourth-ranked Bulldogs were able to keep it all in perspective.

They scored five touchdowns in the first quarter and put things on cruise control to keep their share of the lead in Class 3A Region 5.

“You certainly want the kids to enjoy it, but as a coach, you just hold your breath hoping you keep your team focused and ready to play in the game,” Piedmont coach Steve Smith said. “I try to tell them all the time that’s our part of homecoming, to make sure we go out and win the game.

“It’s a pretty busy week for sure. We’re just glad to get a win and get that taste of losing out of our mouth from last week (at Ohatchee).”

After receiving the opening kickoff, it took Piedmont (6-1, 4-1) just two plays to cover 54 yards for the game’s first score, a 17-yard Jack Hayes pass to Austin Estes. The first of Sloan Smith’s eight extra points put the Bulldogs in front 7-0.

Their next drive covered 49 yards in three plays, with Brayden Morgan scoring on a 36-yard touchdown run for a 14-0 Bulldog lead. On Pleasant Valley’s ensuing possession, Omarion Foster returned an interception 32 yards for a score and with 6:39 to go in the first quarter Piedmont led 21-0.

Hayes connected with Coleman Reid on a 35-yard touchdown pass for Piedmont’s next touchdown and capped the first-quarter scoring with a 13-yard touchdown throw to Noah Reedy. Hayes finished the quarter 8-of-9 for 183 yards and three touchdowns before giving way to backup Cole Wilson.

Following a blocked punt by Rhett Alford, Piedmont took over at its own 42 and scored in four plays, capped by Landon Smart’s 1-yard touchdown run. Wilson threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Jake Rhinehart to give the Bulldogs a 49-0 lead at halftime.

Wilson connected on 7-of-10 pass attempts for 104 yards. He connected on his second touchdown to Ishmael Bethel from 29 yards with 4:40 left in the third quarter for a 56-0 lead.

Pleasant Valley (1-6, 1-4) finally got on the scoreboard on an 84-yard touchdown run by Dalton Haynes with 4:04 remaining in the third quarter. The Raiders other score came on a 3-yard touchdown run with 3:39 to go in the game for the final.

Dontavious Jordan led Piedmont’s rushers with 21 carries for 143 yards. Reid caught four passes for 129 yards and a touchdown. Bethel had five catches for 78 yards and a touchdown.

SAKS 65, WEAVER 7: Jalen McCants scored four touchdowns as the Wildcats set a single-game school record for points in winning their fifth in a row. McCants scored on runs of 1, 39 and 45 yards, and caught a 52-yard touchdown pass.

The Wildcats (7-1, 4-1) have scored in the 60s each of their last two games and have scored 50 or more in their last three, outscoring those opponents 180-38.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login