Cleburne County completed a busy final week of summer football work by finishing as runner-up in Piedmont’s 7-on-7 passing tournament Saturday. Head football coach Michael Shortt said the Tigers had done some 7-on-7 earlier but not in a competitive environment.  

“I wanted to see how we competed. I wanted to see how our old guys competed with our young guys and how they interacted with each other chemistry-wise. That’s what I look for in those kinds of things,” Shortt said. “What it was for us was the perfect ending to a really good summer.”

Cleburne County went undefeated in pool play to finish first in its pool. The Tigers opened with a 19-6 victory over Coosa Christian. Next, they downed Sand Rock 14-12. A 13-12 win over Anniston completed pool play.

The Tigers defeated Anniston’s ‘B’ team 7-0 in the first round of the single-elimination championship bracket then downed Jacksonville 19-13 in the quarterfinals.

In the semifinals, Cleburne County edged host and defending Class 3A state champion Piedmont 16-15. On the final two plays of that game, senior quarterback Brock Swafford and junior wide receiver Isavia Brown combined for a touchdown and a game-winning 2-point conversion. The final throw led Brown to the outside as he headed toward the back corner of the end zone.

 “When somebody can throw that pass it’s impossible to defend,” Shortt said.” It was a beautifully thrown ball, a well-executed play.”  

The final two catches were just two of a number of outstanding plays by Brown.

“He had a great day catching the ball. He was a leader on defense and a leader on offense,” Shortt said.

In the championship game, the Tigers came out flat and fell to St. Clair County 20-0.

“Any time you beat Piedmont in anything it’s an accomplishment because they’ve got such a good program, not just in football but all sports,” Shortt said. “You could tell our kids were excited. We kind of left everything on the field after that.”

Shortt said both Swafford and backup quarterback Reese Morrison, who will be a sophomore this season, threw the ball well. Seniors Nick Dunston, Trevor Houston and Will Morrow all had good days catching the ball. All three did double duty in the secondary on defense.

A pair of sophomores, Gage Harcrow and Micaiah Ross, gave Swafford and Morrison big targets over the middle and were impressive catching the ball in traffic

“That gives us another whole weapon for them to catch the football. Now you’ve got to defend the middle of the field,” Shortt said, before adding that catches over the middle helped create opportunities for outside receivers, too.

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