Smith wants fans help against Pennington

Piedmont hosts J.B. Pennington of Blountsville in the second round of the AHSAA Class 3A football playoffs Friday night at the Field of Champions. Pennington appeared in the football playoffs eight times between 1985 and 1995 when Jeff Milwee was head coach then fell on hard times. Current head coach Todd Cassity’s second team was 8-3 last year and this year’s Tigers are now 9-2.

Piedmont head coach Steve Smith saw Pennington down Lauderdale County 33-7 at Blountsville on Thursday of last week and saw firsthand how much support the rejuvenated Tigers have from their fans.

“I would hope that everybody that’s a Piedmont football fan will pack those stands Friday night because I know everybody from J.B. Pennington is excited,” Smith said following Monday’s practice.      

What Smith saw of Pennington impressed him.

“They’ve got some really hard-nosed kids. They’ve got a really good leader in the quarterback (Noah Allison), a receiver (Cole Littleton) that’s had a huge year and a lot of good complimentary pieces around them. They play hard, play ‘til the whistle blows every snap, just give everything they’ve got. They’re a fun team to watch,” Smith said.

Smith said he views Pennington as a “wide-open offensive team” with a balanced attack.  

“They take some shots down the field. They’ve got the screen game. They run the quarterback a good bit. They’ve got a rotation of running backs back there that all add a lot to the offense,” Smith said.

Piedmont (10-1) advanced to the second round with a 26-6 win over Geraldine at home Friday. The Bulldogs scored on four big-yardage plays – a 58-yard completion from quarterback Cardavion Myers to Darien Bossie, an 88-yard run by Lee Stanley, a 54-yard run by Myers and 21-yard pass from Myers to Elijah Johnson.

It was, as Smith observed after the game, enough to win but a lackluster effort overall on offense. Monday’s practice was much better.       

“Good practice, lot of energy on our end, lots of kids bouncing around having a good time, whole different demeanor than what we saw Friday night on the field,” Smith said.

Piedmont’s defense against Geraldine began well, forcing three punts while allowing two first downs. The fourth Geraldine possession became what Smith had feared most, a long, time-consuming drive with third down conversions by the length of the football and a touchdown at its conclusion. Ahead just 14-6 at intermission, Smith knew the Bulldogs couldn’t afford another such march.   

“At halftime, we talked about it had been a long time since somebody had put that kind of drive on us – driving it that far, that many plays, that much time consumption,” he said.

Whatever Smith said at halftime produced the desired result. In the second half, Geraldine was three-and-out, three-and-out, made a first down and fumbled two plays later on a hit by linebacker Logan Smith that Mason Mohon recovered then finally turned the ball over on downs without gaining a first down.  

Smith sidelined senior nose tackle Logan Beadles as a precaution. The shifting caused by Beadles’ absence gave Bryson Ingram an opportunity to start. Ingram recorded seven tackles at one end. Seth Gardner moved to the middle of the defensive line and had three stops. At the end opposite Ingram, Sean Smith had nine tackles, one for lost yards. He also blocked an extra point. Inside linebackers Logan Smith and Gavin Kircus had 12 tackles and 11 tackles respectively. On the outside, Matthew Thornton recorded eight tackles and Taylor Morrow had six. In the secondary, Malachi Jackson had six tackles, Jakari Foster four, Mohon four and Kaedon Jenkins one, behind the line. Christian Doss had three stops and Micah Bennefield two with one for loss.

Official Piedmont stats showed Myers 5-for-10 passing for 106 yards. Bossie made one catch for 58 yards, Johnson one for 21 yards, Lee Stanley two for 16 yards and T.J. Fairs one for 11 yards.

Stanley led on the ground with 143 yards on 14 carries. Myers ran 12 times for 65 yards. Braylon Cole rushed for 39 yards on four carries. Doss gained 10 yards on his lone carry.

Spring Garden to play at Pickens County

Spring Garden resurrected its dormant running game and downed visiting Phillips of Bear Creek 40-14 in the opening round of the AHSAA Class 1A football playoffs Friday. Now 7-3 on the season, the Panthers travel to Reform this Friday to take on the Pickens County Tornadoes. Pickens County, 9-2 and Region 5 champion, advanced with a 34-7 win over Meek. The Tornadoes were tied for sixth with Isabella in the final Alabama Sports Writers Association poll. Pickens County’s two losses came at the hands of Oakman (15-6) and Gordo (44-12), both still alive in the Class 3A playoffs.  

Against Phillips, Luke Welsh started the scoring on a 3-yard run with 14 seconds remaining in the first quarter. The extra point attempt failed and the Panthers led 6-0.

Spring Garden took control in the final three minutes of play in the second quarter. Weston Kirk scored on a 7-yard run with 3:02 to go in the first half and a two-point conversion made it 14-0. A recovery deep in Phillips territory led to a 29-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Luke Ivey to wide receiver Dylan Rogers and a 20-0 advantage at 2:47 of the second quarter. Rogers then recovered another mistake by the Bears, setting up a touchdown on a 1-yard throw from Ivey to Rogers with 11 seconds to go in the half. At the break, Spring Garden led 26-0.    

Phillips finally got on the scoreboard five minutes into the third quarter, cutting Spring Garden’s lead to 26-7. Ivey answered almost immediately for the Panthers, scoring on a 34-yard scamper with 5:48 left in the third quarter. Another two-point play upped Spring Garden’s lead to 34-7.  

Reserve running back Andrew Floyd completed Spring Garden’s scoring on an 11-yard run with 8:42 to play. Phillips added its second touchdown and extra point with 25 seconds on the clock.  

Ivey finished 8-for-10 passing for 103 yards and two scores. Rogers had six receptions for 90 yards and both touchdowns. Ivey also led on the ground with 10 carries for 87 yards and added a two-point conversion. Kirk ran eight times for 83 yards. Welsh finished with 12 carries for 73 yards. Michael Floyd also had a two-point conversion.

Colby Slayton led on defense with seven tackles. Pj Smith had six tackles. Austin Slayton recorded five tackles, forced three fumbles from his linebacker position and recovered a fumble. Rogers made five stops, nabbed two interceptions and recovered two fumbles.