Piedmont meets Flomaton at 11 a.m. today in the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s Class 3A football championship game. The Bulldogs, now 12-2, finished Region 6 at 6-1 and in a three-way tie with Saks and Randolph County for the region championship. A road win over Geraldine in the final game of the regular season plus earlier wins over Addison and Randolph County earned Piedmont more tiebreaker points and the Region 6 championship. In the postseason, the Bulldogs have beaten Clements at home, J.B. Pennington on the road, previously undefeated Westminster Christian at home and, last week, Randolph County a second time at home.
Flomaton (11-3) finished second to Mobile Christian, coached by former Flomaton coach Ronnie Cottrell, in Region 1 then lost its final regular-season game to Class 2A Southern Choctaw. The Hurricanes opened the playoffs with a home win over The Montgomery Academy, smacked previously unbeaten Winfield on the road, edged Pike County on the road and, last week, blocked a field goal try on the final play of the game to preserve a win over Providence Christian.
1. At the top
Steve Smith arrived at Piedmont for the 2006 season. Flomaton coach Doug Vickery took over at Flomaton the same season. In 13 seasons, Smith’s Piedmont teams are 147-27 with 13 playoff appearances. The Bulldogs are 35-9 in the playoffs under Smith with 3A state championships in 2009, 2015 and 2016.
Flomaton is 88-57 under Vickery. The Hurricanes played in Class 2A for Vickery’s first 10 seasons and were 6-5 in five playoff appearances. In the 2016 reclassification, Flomaton moved to 3A. The first two seasons at a higher level were a struggle. After going 9-4 in 2014 and 10-3 in 2015 in 2A, the Hurricanes were 3-7 in 2016 and 4-6 in 2017. Cottrell said by phone Tuesday evening that the current Flomaton team is the best he’s seen at the Escambia County school.
2. Who to watch — offense
This Piedmont team is a different animal, one without an offensive star. Piedmont always has at least one 1,000-yard rusher but didn’t this year until senior Kaedon Jenkins ran for 185 yards on 20 carries against Westminster Christian in Piedmont’s thirteenth game. In 14 games, Jenkins has 131 carries for 1,078 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Senior Mason Mohon took over at quarterback this year and has completed 92 of 151 passes for 1,398 yards and 16 touchdowns with nine interceptions. D’Angelo Foster has 27 receptions for 685 yards and 12 touchdowns. T.J. Fairs leads in receptions with 41 for 478 yards and two touchdowns.
Junior quarterback Daquan Johnson and senior wide receiver and sometimes quarterback Da’Shun Odom lead Flomaton’s big-play offense. Johnson has over 4,000 yards of total offense. He’s carried the ball 265 times for 2,281 yards and 28 touchdowns and passed for 1,803 yards and 22 touchdowns. Odom is a serious threat from a wildcat formation with 771 yards and seven rushing touchdowns on just 68 carries. Running back Devonta Bradley has 120 carries for 882 yards and two scores.
Odom has been Johnson’s favorite target on deep throws. He has 41 catches for 855 yards and eight touchdowns. Twelve of Quincie McCall’s 29 receptions for 683 yards have produced touchdowns.
3. Who to watch — defense
Piedmont’s tackling leaders are its defensive ends. Sophomore Sean Smith leads with 125 tackles including 10 sacks. Junior Bryson Ingram has 103 tackles with seven sacks. Inside linebackers Logan Smith and Nic Coheley have 92 and 88 tackles, respectively. Safety Carl Myers has 90 stops.
Odom does double duty as Flomaton’s free safety. He has made 142 tackles and intercepted five passes. Inside linebackers James Bass, 129 tackles, and Javontaye Wright, 103 tackles, follow Odom. Wright is a speedy 230 pounds.
4. Key matchups
One Region 1 coach described Flomaton’s passing attack as, “Throw it up to 1 (Odom). He goes and gets it.”
Piedmont’s secondary players — safeties Jenkins and Myers and cornerbacks Jakari Foster and Brant Deerman — will find Odom a challenge. Jenkins has six interceptions, Foster four, Myers two and Deerman two.
Johnson will frequently reverse the field for huge gains. Piedmont’s front seven of ends Ingram and Smith, nose tackle A.J. Gaines, outside linebackers Matthew Thornton and Jackson Barber and inside linebackers Coheley and Smith must play assignment football to keep Johnson contained.
5. If you can’t go
WBRC FOX6 News will carry the game. Fans can also listen to the Piedmont radio broadcast team of Kurt Duryea, Michael Ingram and Robin Roberts on WCKA 810 AM or on FM at 94.3 and 97.1. The radio broadcast will be available on live stream at ala810.com. The radio pregame show starts at 10:30 a.m.