Prep football: Anniston clinches playoff berth with win over White Plains

High school football teaser

Kirsten Fiscus / The Anniston Star

Senior running back A.J. Brown keyed Anniston’s offense and the Bulldogs clinched a place in the Class 4A football playoff bracket with a 56-27 homecoming victory over visiting White Plains on Friday. Brown carried the ball 19 times for 211 yards and scored Anniston’s first three touchdowns on bursts of 18 yards, 1 yard and 47 yards. He also completed a halfback pass to quarterback Daveon Dukes for 27 yards to set up the Bulldogs’ final score.

“This week we were hungry and came to play,” Brown said.

The Bulldogs also got strong games on the ground from Dukes and the other two members of coach Rico White’s three-member running back rotation, Quintarerous Griffin and Tony Hunley.

“A.J. is a strong runner. He did an outstanding job. That’s what we expect from a senior,” White said. “Tony Hunley and Griffin, they did a great job of running the ball.”   

What to know

—Hunley carried the ball six times for 67 yards and scored on runs of 5 and 3 yards. Griffin gained 66 yards on 14 carries, including a 10-yard touchdown run. Dukes netted 58 yards on six tries and scored from 24 and 8 yards away. As a team, Anniston ran for 414 yards.

—The Bulldogs stifled White Plains’ rushing attack. Nine negative plays left the Wildcats with minus 33 yards on the ground.

—White Plains quarterback Jaden Chatman was 18 of 33 passing for 215 yards despite constant duress for Anniston defenders. Quin Wilson accounted for 89 receiving yards, including a 57-yard touchdown reception late in the first half. Jaden Harris caught seven passes for 59 yards. Teddy Hall had four catches for 41 yards. Chatman ran 4 yards for a second-quarter score and Harris scored from 6 yards out in the fourth.

—White Plains took an early 7-0 lead when officials ruled an Anniston pass was not a forward pass. Lineman Will O’Steen alertly scooped the ball and returned it 48 yards for a 7-0 lead. Anniston led 28-20 at halftime.   

Who said

—Anniston coach Rico White on the importance of Friday’s victory: “The kids … knew if we could win this game they would secure a spot in the playoffs. That was our biggest goal. We just wanted to win the game.”

—White Plains coach Chandler Tyree on his team’s inability to run the football: “They put a lot of people in the box and said, ‘Beat us throwing the football,’ and that’s what we had to try to do.”   

Next up

—Anniston, 4-1 in Class 4A, Region 6 and 4-3 overall, travels to Oneonta (4-1 region, 4-3 overall) on Friday for a Region 6 game. The winner remains in the hunt for a home game in the first round of the playoffs. White Plains (2-3 in Region 6, 3-4 overall) will host Jacksonville (5-0 region, 6-2 overall) in a Region 6 contest Thursday. The game will be televised as the AHSAA TV Network/NFHS Network Game of the Week.