The good news from last Friday’s football game on the road against Weaver is that Piedmont won 33-27. The Bulldogs are now 6-1 overall and alone atop the Class 3A, Region 5 standings with a 4-0 region record. Victories at home over Wellborn this Friday and Ohatchee on Oct. 20 will earn Piedmont a perfect 6-0 Region 6 slate and its third consecutive region title.
Piedmont celebrates homecoming this week with the football game against Wellborn as the focal point of that celebration. Wellborn is 1-5 overall and 1-2 in Region 6 games. The Panthers have given up 42, 41 and 42 points in their three most-recent games, all losses.
“You can tell it’s going to be a really, really good team in the future,” Piedmont head football coach Steve Smith said of Wellborn. “They’re just playing so many young guys, guys that are extremely talented, in the ninth and tenth grade classes. I believe they start six ninth or tenth-graders on the defense, guys that it’s obvious are going to be really, really fine players. They’re just lacking a little bit of varsity experience right now. Wellborn is probably as hard-nosed and well-prepared as a team as we’ll play all year long. They’ve played a murderous schedule up to this point.”
The bad news from the win over the Bearcats is that it came despite one of the poorest tackling performances by a Piedmont team in recent memory. The Bulldogs struggled to hem up and wrap up shifty Weaver ball carriers, particularly in the second half, and surrendered big plays on long-yardage, third-down situations.
“I thought Weaver played extremely well. I was very impressed with Dalton Hamby and the improvement he’s made at quarterback. He made a lot of plays with his feet. They gave us some trouble in space. We tackled very poorly but a lot of that has to do with the guys Weaver had with the ball in their hands. They definitely gave us some stuff that was glaringly obvious that we have to work on. We’ve got to be a better tackling team in the open field. I think we learned that night that you couldn’t just rely on your athleticism when you’re up against people that are just as athletic as you are. You’ve got to go make some plays,” Piedmont coach Steve Smith said prior to Tuesday’s practice. “With all that being said I thought it was huge for us to go in there and not have our best game of the year and come away with a win against a quality opponent. I think you’ll see that Weaver team playing deep into the playoffs.”
Against Weaver (4-2, 1-2), Piedmont took a 7-0 lead with 1:40 to play in the first quarter when Cardavion Myers completed a 37-yard touchdown pass to Darien Bossie and Brant Deerman kicked the extra point. Weaver answered with a 72-yard scoring pass on the first play of the second quarter. Two snaps later, Piedmont led 13-7 after Myers scored on a 5-yard run up the middle.
The Bulldogs’ next possession started at the Piedmont 6-yard line. A 38-yard run by Myers and a 20-yard gain on a speed sweep by Bossie set the stage for Lee Stanley’s 3-yard scoring run. Bossie added the two-point conversion on another speed sweep and Piedmont led 21-7 with 2:53 left before halftime. An interception by Myers in the end zone on the final play of the first half kept the halftime score 21-7.
The Bearcats mounted another scoring threat to start the third quarter. A tackle by Mason Mohon for a 4-yard loss on fourth down gave Piedmont the ball at the Piedmont 8. Piedmont punted and Hamby completed a 28-yard touchdown pass to make it 21-14 with 2:26 to play in the third quarter.
Mohon fielded the ensuing short kickoff at the Piedmont 34 and returned the kick to the Piedmont 46. Six plays later, Myers scored on a 6-yard run at left end and the Bulldogs led 27-14 with 11:52 to play.
Weaver narrowed Piedmont’s lead to 27-21 with 5:29 to go. The Bulldogs responded with a 61-yard scoring drive that ended with a 7-yard run by Myers with 3:52 left. Weaver’s final touchdown came with 2:15 to go. Myers opened the ensuing possession with a 24-yard scamper around left end to the 50. Stanley ran inside once and from there the Bulldogs were able to exhaust the clock as Myers took a knee in the victory formation twice.
Myers ran 22 times for 216 yards. He was 3-for-6 passing for 62 yards. Stanley added 99 yards rushing on 14 carries. Bossie had 51 yards on three carries. Layton New had a 10-yard catch and T.J. Fairs gained eight yards on his reception.
Logan Smith and Taylor Morrow each made nine tackles, with two stops each for lost yards. Logan Beadles recorded one quarterback and two other tackles for loss among his seven tackles. Mohon had six stops, one for lost yards. Sean Smith finished with five tackles. Kaedon Jenkins, Matthew Thornton and Gavin Kircus each made four tackles. Christian Doss, Jackson Barber and Myers had three tackles each. Fair, Braylon Cole, Seth Gardner and Malachi Jackson made two tackles apiece.
Garden continues win streak
Spring Garden extended its current winning streak to five games last Friday night with its 42-8 victory in Gadsden over Class 1A, Region 6 foe Coosa Christian. The win improved the Panthers’ to 5-1 overall and 4-0 in Region 6 contests.
With only one Region 6 game remaining, at home against intra-county rival Cedar Bluff on Oct. 27, Spring Garden is assured of a home game in the opening round of the Class 1A football playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.
A win over Cedar Bluff, currently 4-2 overall and 3-0 in Region 6, will make the Panthers a region champion for the first time since the Alabama High School Athletic Association instituted the region system for the 2000 season.
Spring Garden has an open date this week, created when region opponent Jacksonville Christian was unable to field a team this year, reducing what had initially been a seven-team region to six teams.
The Panthers play Holy Spirit Catholic in Tuscaloosa on Oct. 20 and close the regular season at Pleasant Valley on Nov. 3.
It didn’t take long for Spring Garden to establish its dominance against Coosa Christian. With 7:14 still to play in the first quarter, Weston Kirk scored on a 21-yard run. The kick missed its mark but the Panthers still led 6-0.
The Panthers added three touchdowns through the air in the second quarter. The first came on a 14-yard pass from quarterback Luke Ivey to Luke Welsh and a two-point conversion made it 14-0 with 8:34 on the second quarter clock. At the 5:17 mark of the second quarter, Ivey and Michael Floyd combined on a 10-yard scoring pass. Another two-point play upped Spring Garden’s lead to 22-0. Ivey tossed another scoring strike to Floyd from five yards out with 1:01 remaining before halftime. The two-point try failed but the Panthers led 28-0 at halftime.
Welsh scored for the second time with 1:16 left in the third quarter, this time on a 7-yard run, and Spring Garden led 34-0. With 10:01 left in the game, Welsh tallied Spring Garden’s final touchdown, his third of the game, on a 16-yard run. A two-point play made it 42-0. Coosa Christian finally scored on a 9-yard run with 1:21 to play.
Welsh ended with 122 yards rushing on 13 carries. Kirk ran for 84 yards on 13 attempts. Floyd added 43 yards on the ground on eight tries.
Ivey completed seven of his 11 pass attempts for 135 yards. In addition to the touchdown tosses to Floyd and Welsh, Ivey completed two passes to Colby Slayton for 101 yards.
Linebacker Lucky Bolen led in tackles with five. From his defensive end position, Welsh made four stops and also intercepted a Coosa Christian pass.