Ashton Duncan earned The Daily Home Player of the Week honor for his performance in Talladega’s 38-28 win over Class 5A, Region 4 foe Cleburne County on Friday.
“It is a big thing,” Duncan said. “I couldn’t have done it without my teammates: my O-line, my receivers, everybody. We played together as one.”
Duncan and the Tigers played the role of spoiler for Cleburne County’s homecoming. The senior signal-caller threw for 186 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 60 yards and a score.
“We got a big win against them,” Duncan said. “They beat us last year, barely, but this year we wanted to avenge it. We came out ready to play. I kind of got down on myself when I threw (some) interceptions, but my team kept me motivated and kept me up straight.”
Duncan made his presence felt when his team needed him the most.
Cleburne County scored 14 unanswered points to tie the game at 21-all in the third quarter, but Duncan and the Tigers took control in the fourth. He connected with Fred Dickerson for a touchdown. Duncan then put the game away with a 4-yard rushing touchdown to put the Tigers back up by two scores.
It was the first time that Duncan scored five touchdowns in game.
“I was real comfortable (last) week,” Duncan said. “My O-line helped me out, and the receivers went up and got my passes. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to have the type of performance that I did on Friday night.”
For Duncan, this was his second start at quarterback this season. Going into the campaign, Duncan was moved from quarterback to receiver to give Talladega another playmaker on the perimeter. An injury to starting quarterback Nigel Scales against Alexandria forced Talladega’s coaching staff to move Duncan back to the position he played the previous two seasons.
Talladega head coach Ted Darby said he was proud of the way Duncan and the offense played last week. Darby said he needed Duncan to continue to improve every time that he steps on the field.
“I need Ashton to keep playing like he is and keep getting better,” Darby said. “I need him to lead the team and lead his offensive team. He is maturing in front of your eyes, and he just has to keep that up. He has to keep maturing at that quarterback position, keep leading the offense. He has to keep studying like he has been. Coach Vincent (Harris) and Coach (Wayne) Parnell are doing a great job with him. He has to keep improving each week and get the ball in our playmakers’ hands. We have to be able to run and throw the football. “
Talladega enters this week’s game against Lincoln looking to improve to 3-1 on the season and, more importantly, 2-0 in region action.
Duncan said this week has been difficult because the Tigers weren’t able to practice Monday or Tuesday because school was out due to the possibility of inclement weather, but he said he has been doing all that he can to get prepared.
“The weather messed us up for the last two days, but when we get back (Wednesday), we are going to come back strong and get prepared to beat Lincoln,” he said. “I have been preparing myself, and the team has been preparing by watching film and doing what we can while the storm was out.”
The senior said he wants to leave a legacy at Talladega. Duncan and the 2017 Tigers will be remembered if they are able to end their postseason drought. Talladega has not played in a playoff game since 1995.
“We want to make the playoffs,” Duncan said. “We have to get better each week and continue to come together as a team. Personally, I want to help the young guys get better. With me being a senior, I want to leave a path for them. I want to be able to lead out there and to have something in my name left.”