Other Bulldogs to watch:
—It’s hard to think of current Piedmont players on the state’s biggest stage without remembering the picture of defensive end Sean Smith, inconsolable next to his dad, Piedmont head coach Steve Smith, after the Bulldogs lost to Flomaton in last year’s 3A final. If Piedmont comes away from Auburn all smiles this time, Sean Smith and fellow defensive end Bryson Ingram will be big reasons. Piedmont’s teams score under Steve Smith, but defense wins championships. The Bulldogs have a good one, and it starts up front. Sean Smith was a finalist for Class 3A lineman of the year in 2018, and Ingram was a second-team all-state pick.
—At 6-foot-1, 190, junior cornerback Jakari Foster projects as a Division I recruit next year. He returned an interception 50 yards against Flomaton last year and lurks for any quarterback looking to challenge him, but his big-play potential extends beyond defense. He’s returned 11 kickoffs for 391 yards and three touchdowns this season. He also sees spot duty on offense, but effective duty … 15 rushes for 106 yards (7.1 avg.) with one touchdown; and 10 catches, 207 yards, two touchdowns.
—Receivers, Piedmont has some. The Bulldogs have played a lot of four-wide football this season. Even after losing Coleman Reid and Ethan Swinford to injuries, the beat of Piedmont’s passing game went on. Swinford is back, having returned in the quarterfinals and seen more extensive action in the semifinals. Swinford, Silas Thompson, Austin Estes and Max Hanson give Piedmont four receivers with more than 300 receiving yards on the season. All have touchdowns … from Thompson’s 13 to Swinford’s five. Piedmont can spread anybody out.
—Piedmont’s running game was a work in progress early on, but has anyone noticed that Elijah Johnson has almost 1,000 rushing yards? That’s 994 on 108 rushes (9.2 avg.) with 12 touchdowns. The Bulldogs can run when they want to, as well.
Click here to read a separate story on Jack Hayes.