Preparations for Piedmont’s football game against Randolph County in Wedowee on Friday, the game many observers believe will determine the Class 3A, Region 5 championship, took a back seat to Hurricane Irma earlier this week.
Bulldogs head coach Steve Smith gathered his players at 8 p.m. Sunday for an unusual Sunday practice, knowing there would be no opportunity to practice on Monday.
Smith said Monday that his practice routine might have additional changes that would be determined by the weather.
“I just tell the kids we live by the motto ‘Control the things you can control.’ None of us have any control over this situation. I told them (Sunday) night, it’s not going to be an excuse. It’s the same for Randolph County and everybody else. Whoever handles the change of schedule better is probably going to be in the driver’s seat come Friday night,” Smith said.
Randolph County is 2-0 after defeating Barbour County 48-0 in their opener and Ohatchee 42-6 at Ohatchee last week. The Indians led 6-0 early then trailed 35-6 at halftime.
“Their offense, they’ve just been running the football at will against the two teams that they’ve beaten, throwing it when they wanted to. The most impressive thing is all the ways they’ve created points from a non-offensive perspective – returned three interceptions for touchdowns, a fumble for a touchdown and then two kicks for touchdowns,” Smith said. “Mostly it’s the same guys. They’re just a year older and they’ve been really, really good. They’ve made a lot of progress.”
The Tigers are a very experienced team, losing to graduation only two players who started in Piedmont’s 42-14 win in Piedmont last year. Brody Wortham, who shared the role of quarterback with Andrew Prestridge last year, is this year’s primary signal caller. Prestridge has shifted to wide receiver and is the go-to target when head coach Pat Prestridge, his father, chooses to throw.
Aaron Knight and Trent Lane are seasoned running backs. Smith said Randolph County will often go with two tight ends in a wishbone look and that all the backs do a solid job of blocking for one another.
The entire offensive line returns, headed by tackle Richard Bledsoe. Smith described Bledsoe as the leader of both the offensive and defensive lines. The younger Prestridge does double duty as a safety on defense and has two of the interception-return touchdowns.
Randolph County’s weakness last year was the number of players who had to play both ways.
Piedmont improved to 2-1 overall and 1-0 in Region 5 with its 61-14 win over Glencoe (2-1, 0-1) last week. The Bulldogs led 33-0 at halftime and needed just two offensive plays – a 17-yard run by Lee Stanley and then a 19-yard touchdown scamper by Layton New – in the third quarter to score again. Brant Deerman’s kick made it 40-0 with 11 minutes still to play in the third period. The touchdown was set up by a long kickoff return by T.J. Fairs. Aided by 34 yards in penalties against Piedmont, Glencoe finally scored with 6:25 left in the third quarter. Kaedon Jenkins blocked the extra point attempt.
“I thought for the first two and a half quarters we played really well on the defensive side. For a long time they were at negative yards. I thought our defense, both against the run and the pass, was really good. We had three interceptions in the first half, got a lot of pressure on the quarterback. We only got a couple of sacks but we hit him several times, had him throwing of his back foot,” Smith said. “A couple of those balls hung up that we were able to intercept because of a good pass rush.”
Jakari Foster, Malachi Jackson and Carl Myers each had an interception for Piedmont. Myers now has three picks for the season and Foster two.
Stanley ran 10 times for 130 yards and one touchdown. He had three pass receptions for an additional 35 yards. Stanley’s touchdown came on a 2-yard run on the first play after Myers’ interception and earned Piedmont’s 33-0 halftime lead.
Cardavion Myers scored on runs of 30 yards and six yards and finished with seven carries for 77 yards. He was 9-for-14 passing for 155 yards and two scores. Fairs caught four passes for 91 yards. His first reception, on Piedmont’s third play from scrimmage, covered 64 yards and Deerman’s kick put Piedmont up 7-0. Logan Pruitt’s lone catch produced a 29-yard touchdown on the first play of the second quarter and a 21-0 lead after Cardavion Myers ran for a two-point conversion.
In the second half, reserve Braylon Cole had seven carries for 117 yards and three touchdowns. His touchdowns came on runs of 10, 17 and 67 yards.
Inside linebacker Gavin Kircus recorded eight tackles. Outside linebacker Christian Doss had seven stops. Inside linebacker Logan Smith, safety Mason Mohon and Jenkins at cornerback made six tackles apiece.
Logan Beadles and Nic Coheley each had five tackles. Beadles also caused a fumble. Sean Smith had four stops. Jackson Barber, Cole and Bryson Ingram each finished with three tackles. Foster, Deerman, Sean Young, Seth Gardner and Mitchell Naugher had two tackles apiece.
Barber broke up three passes and had a quarterback sack. Beadles also had a sack. Logan Smith and Ingram each made two stops behind the line. Mohon, Doss, Kircus and Jenkins each had one tackle behind the line of scrimmage.
Spring Garden heads to Woodville
Spring Garden travels to Woodville on Friday for its second Class 1A, Region 6 game of the season. Woodville has never beaten Spring Garden and it’s been ugly lately. The maroon-and-gold Panthers won 53-20 in 2014, 52-6 in 2015 and 60-0 last year although last year’s score is somewhat deceiving because Woodville elected to keep several starters on the sidelines trying to get healthy for a second-half playoff push. The black-and-gold Panthers finished third in the region last year.
Woodville scored an easy 43-6 win over Asbury on Sept. 1 then had an open date last week when Jacksonville Christian was originally set as their Region 6 opener. Woodville has been pointing to Friday’s game for a long time.
“This is the best team that they’ve had by far,” Spring Garden head coach Jason Howard said of Woodville. “They’re going to be well prepared for us, having this much time.”
Howard expects Woodville to present a balanced attack from a spread formation with a lot of zone read plays. Woodland has good size at running back and a quarterback who can run and throw.
Spring Garden (1-1) played its first Region 6 game at Gaylesville last Friday and emerged with a 49-12 victory. The Trojans scored on their initial possession for a 6-0 lead. They trailed 49-6 before scoring again with about four minutes remaining in the contest.
The Panthers led 14-6 after one quarter, 36-6 at halftime and 43-6 after three quarters.
Michael Floyd led Spring Garden with 91 yards rushing on 10 carries, all in the first half. He scored one touchdown. Weston Kirk ran 11 times for 66 yards and scored twice. Luke Welsh ended with 54 yards and a touchdown on the ground on eight carries. Draevan Bowman and Andrew Floyd each scored a rushing touchdown.
The Panthers’ defensive unit got in on the scoring parade when Dylan Rogers returned an interception about 40 yards for a touchdown. Austin Slayton finished with seven tackles. Colby Slayton had six tackles and Michael Floyd recorded five stops.