A season to remember
A look back at the 2010 Piedmont Bulldogs An advertising publication of The Piedmont Journal â€˘ December 15, 2010
Page 2 Wednesday, December 15, 2010
2010 Piedmont season results 08-28-10 (Saturday) 09-03-10 (Friday) 09-10-10 (Friday) 09-17-10 (Friday) 09-24-10 (Friday) 10-01-10 (Friday) 10-07-10 (Thursday) 10-15-10 (Friday) 10-22-10 (Friday) 10-29-10 (Friday) 11-05-10 (Friday) 11-12-10 (Friday) 11-19-10 (Friday) 11-26-10 (Friday) # Region game
at Piedmont # at Susan Moore # at Piedmont # at Blountsville # at Piedmont # at Weaver # at Gulf Shores at Piedmont # at Ashville # at Piedmont
Piedmont 29, Hokes Bluff 6 Piedmont 26, Susan Moore 23 Piedmont 41, White Plains 21 Piedmont 48, J.B. Pennington 13 Piedmont 13, Glencoe 12 (OT) Piedmont 40, Weaver 33 Gulf Shores 43, Piedmont 42 (OT) Piedmont 17, Saks 0 Piedmont 53, Ashville 20 Piedmont 42, Cherokee County 9
AHSAA Class 3A playoffs (Region champion) at Piedmont Piedmont 62, Winston County 29 at Piedmont Piedmont 28, Cordova 21 at Piedmont Piedmont 28, Plainview-Rainsville 7 at Piedmont Hamilton 27, Piedmont 21
1-0, 1-0 2-0, 2-0 3-0, 3-0 4-0, 4-0 5-0, 5-0 6-0, 6-0 6-1 7-1, 7-0 8-1, 8-0 9-1 10-1 11-1 12-1 12-2
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Piedmont almost turned an impossible dream into the possible RIP DONOVAN Journal Sports Correspondent
Imagine for a moment you’re a high school football coach. Not just any coach, mind you, but one coming off a successful season, the most successful season you and your school have ever enjoyed. Now, imagine you’ve lost to graduation your three-year starter at quarterback, your 1,800-yard rusher at running back, not one but two three-year starters on the offensive
line along with your reliable center, your possession receiver, a three-year starter at defensive end, a three-year starter at linebacker and three-fourths of the starters in your defensive secondary. With losses of that magnitude, there’s no way a realist can be optimistic about the coming season. Right? In addition, you’re team has changed football regions, adding highly-regarded Hokes Bluff, Saks and Susan Moore while retain-
ing powerful Glencoe and resurgent White Plains and Weaver. There’s even less reason for optimism. Right? That’s the situation Piedmont head football coach Steve Smith faced after the Bulldogs won the Class 3A state championship in 2009. The realist in Smith said a realistic goal for the 2010 team would be to simply snag one of the four playoff berths each region has. The Bulldogs’ performance at Cedar
Bluff in the spring jamboree didn’t alter that thought. But Smith has another side, one he calls the competitive side. “The competitive side of you and the side that sees your kids working hard ever day (said) we don’t want to be satisfied with just a playoff spot,” Smith said. The competitive side got more encouragement over the summer. By the time passing ■ See PIEDMONT, page 4
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Piedmont: Overtime win over Glencoe put the Bulldogs in the area driver’s seat From page 3
camps ended, Smith said he could sense a growing confidence among the players. “There were some kids who were stepping into rolls and saying, ‘Hey, I can do this,’” said Smith. Opening against Hokes Bluff then playing at Susan Moore, the Bulldogs didn’t have to wait long to be tested. As Smith put it, “We go straight into the frying pan with those two teams.” They emerged with a 29-6 win over Hokes Bluff and a 26-23 victory over Susan Moore. “I think those first two games really served as a confidence lift,” Smith said, leaving the players and their coaches thinking, “Hey, if we play we can win the region.” A 41-21 win over White Plains in Piedmont and a 48-13 road win over J.B. Pennington put Piedmont at 4-0 entering their showdown with Glencoe (40). “I had already scouted Glencoe twice before we played them. I knew that points were going to be at a premium,” Smith noted. “As good as their defense played, ours played a little bit better. Our defense stepped up that night and played lights out.” That 13-12 overtime victory over the Yellow Jackets put Piedmont “in the driver’s seat for the region championship,” he said. Trent Penny / Consolidated News Service The driver’s seat almost led to a train wreck the following week at Weaver. The Bulldogs eventu- Piedmont’s Jamie Major stiff arms Plainview’s Colby Williams to gain yards around the end. Piedmont beat the ally outlasted the Bearcats 40-33, taking the lead for Plainview Bears 28-7 in quarterfinal action of the state playoffs. good on a 60-yard punt return with less than three performances.” be good and be playing for a state championship,” Smith minutes to play and sealing the win with an interception. Piedmont’s season ended at 12-2 with a 27-21 loss to said. “After those two weeks back-to-back, we were able to talk Hamilton. “I love the fact that I’m in a place that those people care,” to our team about good teams finding a way to win,” Smith “They just out-played us and out-coached us,” Smith said Smith continued. “The kids have come to understand that, said. simply. too.” The Bulldogs’ only regular-season loss came on the road Smith said this year’s group of seniors won only one of “Even with a state championship, we’re still looking to do the next week when Class 5A Gulf Shores rallied to defeat their eighth-grade games. That win came on a ‘Hail, Mary’ even better,” he concluded. Piedmont 43-42 in overtime. pass against Sardis. In their final three years in high school, “If not for a couple of poor coaching decisions on my part, this year’s seniors were part of 35 wins. we would have won that game,” Smith said. “When that “I think that speaks volumes about how hard they worked game ended, we had some kids who laid on the field like it and how they progressed,” Smith said. was a state championship game. It hurt them. I knew right Now it’s time to begin thinking about 2011 and beyond. there we had a group of kids who expected to win the state “The thing that I see is that we’ve got a bunch of hungry championship.” kids. They’re used to winning. I think that spurs them on,” With Saks and its big-play potential up next, the Bulldogs Smith said. didn’t have much time to regroup. Piedmont responded with “We expect to win a lot of games for the foreseeable a 17-0 shutout of the Wildcats. A “so-so” effort at Ashville future. We’re going to work harder in the off season than produced a 53-20 win. we ever have.” The Bulldogs then closed the regular season with a 42-9 “Our goal has been from the outset to build a program, not win over visiting Cherokee County, a game Smith called just build a team,” Smith continued. “Anything less than their “best regular-season game from an all-around perfor- winning region championships and state championships, mance.” we’re not going to be satisfied.” Playoff wins over Winston County (62-29) in the first Smith isn’t the only Piedmont supporter with high expecround and Plainview (28-7) in the third were predictable. tations. He acknowledged the support of administrators, The second round meeting with Cordova, the team the boosters, former players, other alumni and members of the Bulldogs bested for their 2009 3A state title, was a toss-up community generally. With that support comes expectaat best. Smith called Piedmont’s 28-21 victory, “probably tions. the most exciting game of the year and one of our best “Everybody in this town expects the football team to
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A recap of the season Piedmont 26 Susan moore 23
It was billed as a clash between Hokes Bluff’s power running attack and Piedmont’s spread offense. In the end, the team with the power running won the game – but it was the Piedmont Bulldogs who captured a 29-6 victory at Piedmont. About six minutes of the contest were played Friday before lightning forced postponement until Saturday evening. Piedmont trialed 6-0 at halftime but looked, literally, like a different team in the second half. The Bulldogs went to a threeback set with junior quarterback Chris Strott under center and freshman Exavyer Jackson frequently leading the way as a blocking back. The second-half kickoff went to Piedmont. The Bulldogs moved 55 yards in 10 plays to take a 7-6 lead, scoring on a 1-yard run by senior Jamaal Johnson. Senior running back Derrick (Mookie) Jackson opened the drive with a 12-yard run. The next two first downs came on third down pass completions by Strott. He connected with Landon Pruitt for 13 yards and then Noah Willis for 15 yards. Those two completions were the only two passes Piedmont attempted in the second half. After intermission, Johnson ran eight times for 82 yards and two touchdowns. His second score came on a 42-yard run when he pulled free of Dakota Hallmark’s tackle attempt behind the line of scrimmage and raced away from everyone else in white. That touchdown, with the fourth quarter less than four minutes old, and Strott’s kick, put the Bulldogs ahead 14-6. On the ensuing kickoff, Jamie Major forced Hallmark to fumble and Coltin Allison recovered at the Hokes Bluff 15-yard line. After no gain on first down, Major slipped away from Hokes Bluff linebacker Dylan Walker and scored on a 15-yard run with 7:47 to play. Hallmark then compounded his fumble by jumping offside as Piedmont lined up to kick the extra point. Closer to the goal line, the Bulldogs went for two points and Major converted with a run to the right side. With Johnson primarily responsible for covering him in the second half, Hallmark had only one more reception.
Complacency almost led to disaster for the Piedmont Bulldogs at Susan Moore. Quarterback Chris Strott and wide receiver Noah Willis combined on a 9-yard fade route into the end zone on the final play of the game to give Piedmont its second Class 3A, Region 6 football victory in as many tries. The final was 26-23. “I’m glad he caught it. We weren’t going to get another play,” Piedmont coach Steve Smith said later. Piedmont led Susan Moore 14-3 at halftime and 20-3 after scoring on the first Piedmont possession of the second half. Another Piedmont drive reached the Susan Moore 30-yard line before turning the ball over on downs. It’s early in the fourth quarter then the Bulldogs, having beaten Susan Moore in the playoffs in 2009 and 2008, apparently decided the game was over. It wasn’t. In the space of five minutes, Susan Moore scored three touchdowns and led 23-20. Even worse, Piedmont lost another fumble after falling behind. A three-and-out, “The first time we’d stopped them in the fourth quarter,” gave the Bulldogs one last opportunity at victory starting at the Piedmont 20 with 2:31 to play. Senior Jamaal Johnson ran for 37 yards on the first play and Jamie Major picked up another first down with a 12-yard run. On fourth-and-short, Strott ran for a first down to the Susan Moore 9 then spiked the ball, killing the clock with seven seconds to play, setting the stage for the winning pass.
Piedmont 41 White Plains 21
Perhaps the Bulldogs were inspired by queen Ellie New and the large homecoming crowd. Maybe recollections of last year’s come-from-behind win over White Plains motivated them. Whatever the reason, Piedmont scored five times in the first half and had no trouble defeating White Plains 41-21 last Friday. Nine Bulldogs carried the football and seven recorded pass receptions. Piedmont coach Steve Smith used all his second-half timeouts in the final minute to be certain he and his staff had gotten every player in uniform into the game.
A 21-yard punt return by Willis gave Piedmont great second possession field position at the White Plains 28-yard line. Two carries by senior running back Derrick (Mookie) Jackson, one for 12 yards and the next for 16, put Piedmont on the scoreboard with exactly seven minutes left in the first quarter. Chris Strott booted the first of his three extra points. The Bulldogs got the ball again immediately when Coltin Allison recovered an onside kick at the White Plains 48. On a fourth-and-16 play, Strott’s pass over the middle to Jamaal Johnson went for a 31-yard touchdown. Jackson scored for the second time on a 43-yard run. Cade Bradley took advantage of split end Sloan Garner’s 6-foot-6 frame for a 2-point conversion pass, upping
Piedmont’s lead to 21-7 with 7:08 remaining in the first half. Strott finished the six-play, 79-yard drive with a touchdown pass to Deion Ammons with 1:03 on the clock but missed again on the extra point. Major and Clay Dent set up Piedmont’s final touchdown of the first half when Major tackled Burns on the ensuing kickoff and Dent captured the free ball at the White Plains 25. An offensive pass interference penalty backed the Bulldogs to the 40 but Strott and Johnson combined for a 34-yard touchdown pass two plays later with 12.1 seconds to go. On the third play of the second half, Amis and Burns couldn’t connect on a handoff and Jordan Tyree recovered for Piedmont at ■ See page 8
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Piedmont 29 Hokes Bluff 6
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010 Page 7
Congratulations to the Piedmont Bulldogs football team on a great season
Michael Devoe Tyler Lusk Jacob Herring Dalton Barber Cameron Smith Dylan Doss
Jacob Thompson John Screven Tyler Lucas Josh Brown Taylor Huddleston C.J. Savage
Page 6 Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 Page 7
Congratulations to the Piedmont Bulldogs football team on a great season
Michael Devoe Tyler Lusk Jacob Herring Dalton Barber Cameron Smith Dylan Doss
Jacob Thompson John Screven Tyler Lucas Josh Brown Taylor Huddleston C.J. Savage
6 Page 8 Wednesday, December 15, 2010 ■ Continued from Page 5
Piedmont 13 Glencoe 12 (OT)
the White Plains 35. Dalton Riffey ran for eight yards, Bradley passed to Willis for 12 and Major ran the ball for Defense was the essence of the game Friday night. Glen15 yards and Piedmont’s final touchdown with 9:25 left in coe’s defense limited Piedmont to 189 yards of total offense, the third quarter. Strott’s kick made it 41-7. half its normal output. Playing at home, the Bulldogs held the Yellow Jackets without a first down in the second half. Piedmont scored late and forced overtime then edged Glencoe 13-12 to establish itself as the only undefeated team in Class 3A, Region 6. Piedmont head coach Steve Smith credited defensive Five first-half touchdowns got Piedmont off to the kind of start Bulldog fans were hoping to see against J.B. Pen- coordinator James Blanchard with an adjustment that nington. The Bulldogs added a sixth touchdown before Pen- slowed Glencoe’s running attack to a trickle in the second nington scored and eventually won Friday’s game, played half. Josh Brown, a 6-foot-7, 265-pound transfer from Glencoe, moved to nose tackle and Mickey Jackson moved from in Blountsville, 48-13. Against J.B. Pennington, it took Piedmont less than three nose to defensive end, opposite Marguez Gamble. Gamble finished with five tackles, including two for minutes to set the tone for the night. Chris Strott completed losses. Jackson had six stops, three of those for lost yards. a 19-yard scoring pass to Noah Willis with 9:18 still to go Against Glencoe (4-1, 3-1), Piedmont trailed almost from in the first quarter. The Bulldogs covered 61 yards in seven plays. Strott was 4-of-5 passing on the drive. Willis had the beginning. The Yellow Jackets scored on a 40-yard pass three catches for 39 yards and Landon Pruitt one for 14 completion with 9:21 to play in the first quarter and still led yards. Strott missed his first extra point attempt then made 6-0 when Jamaal Johnson returned a punt 26 yards with 5:39 left in regulation. six in a row. The Bulldogs faced third and goal from inside the five With 2:13 left in the opening quarter, Jackson scored on and Strott rolled right and appeared hemmed in but Strott an 81-yard run and Piedmont led 13-0. dove and reached the plyon with the outstretched ball. The The Bulldogs added three touchdowns in the second quarter. Strott and Willis combined on a 60-yard touch- touchdown knotted the score at 6-all with 2:21 to play but down pass at 6:09 to cap a 93-yard drive. Jackson had a the usually accurate Strott pushed the extra point kick wide 16-yard run and Major a 14-yard scamper on the drive. At right. Piedmont won the overtime coin toss and elected to begin 5:12, Johnson returned an interception about 55 yards for another touchdown. After Pennington went three-and-out, on defense. Starting at the 10, Glencoe scored on its first the Bulldogs moved 48 yards in four plays. Major had the play, a pass from quarterback Rhett Norman to Tinker, the big run, a 32-yard jaunt that got Piedmont close, and com- combination that produced the initial touchdown for the pleted the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run with 2:06 left Yellow Jackets. Again, Glencoe’s kick was wide. On Piedmont’s first play, a pass interference penalty in in the first half. Johnson scored on a 5-yard run with 8:32 to play in the the end zone gave the Bulldogs a first-and-goal from the 5. third quarter and Piedmont led 41-0. Pennington scored late Strott then completed a perfectly thrown pass to Johnson in the third quarter and early in the fourth, each touchdown in the end zone. Strott’s first attempt at the game-winning extra point was coming through the air. A short punt gave Piedmont the ball at the Pennington 18-yard line and set the stage to the final good but a procedure penalty against Piedmont wiped it off Piedmont touchdown. Denard Spears did the honors with the books. Undisturbed, Strott kicked the winner straight through the middle of the uprights. an 8-yard run.
Piedmont 48 J.B. Pennington 13
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Attention to its punt return game in the practices leading up to Friday night’s football game at Weaver paid dividends at a most opportune time for the Piedmont Bulldogs. Senior Noah Willis scored on a 60-yard return with just 2:33 left in the game, breaking a deadlock and making the Bulldogs 40-33 winners over the Bearcats. Against Weaver (2-4, 2-3), the Bulldogs got the opening kickoff and scored on their first two possessions. Strott tallied on a 39-yard run to start the scoring. He missed his first extra point attempt then made his last four tries. Derrick Jackson’s 38-yard run accounted for Piedmont’s second touchdown. The pass for the 2-point conversion was tipped away but Piedmont led 12-0. Weaver never gained the lead but tied the score three times, first at 12-12, then at 26-26 and finally at 33-33. The Bearcats threatened to take the lead after Qninnata Jones turned a sweep around right end into a 97-yard touchdown run, one of his three rushing touchdowns on the night, to make the score 12-12. Mickey Jackson came up the middle and blocked the kick that could have put Weaver ahead. Piedmont’s next two scores came on Derrick Jackson’s 53-yard run and a 17-yard run by Strott, who connected on both extra points. A 25-yard touchdown pass with 36 seconds left in the half pulled Weaver close at 26-18 at halftime. The second half kickoff went to Weaver and it took the Bearcats less than two minutes to tie the game at 26 apiece. Jones ran four yards for the score then ran for the tying 2point conversion. The Bulldogs took the ensuing kickoff and moved steadily downfield. Strott’s 11-yard run capped an 11-play, 71-yard drive and Piedmont led 33-26 with 4:30 left in the third quarter. With 8:55 left to play, Jones scored for the third time in the game on a 5-yard run. The extra point kick knotted the score and set the stage for Willis’ punt return. Derrick Jackson led Piedmont on the ground with 146 yards on 10 carries. Strott ran 16 times for 130 yards. ■ See page 9
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Gulf Shores 43 Piedmont 42 (OT)
Bulldogs on the beach turned out to be a high-scoring affair in which Class 5A Gulf Shores’ aerial circus was one point better than Piedmont’s more-balanced attack. In overtime, the final was Gulf Shores 43, Piedmont 42. “The whole trip was perfect. We just didn’t win the game,” Piedmont head coach Steve Smith said. All six Gulf Shores touchdowns came on passes. The Dolphins were going to pass for a 2-point conversion in overtime when Piedmont forced quarterback Brandon Silvers to scramble. Smith said Silvers was tackled before he reached the goal line but the hit flipped him into the end zone for the winning points. Piedmont’s overtime score came on a 9-yard pass from quarterback Chris Strott to Jamaal Johnson. Strott then kicked his sixth consecutive extra point. Strott’s 16-yard run with 2:33 left in the first quarter. tied the game. Johnson returned the second half kickoff 51 yards to the Gulf Shores 25. On the first snap, Jackson ran for a touchdown and a 14-7 lead. Gulf Shores fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Jalen Johnson recovered for Piedmont at the Gulf Shores 20. Three plays later, Jamaal Johnson scored on a 3-yard run. Jamaal Johnson returned a kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown. But the Dolphins battled back. The Dolphins moved 71 yards in eight plays to tie the game at 28-all with 8:41 to play. Jackson got Piedmont back on top with a 20-yard run at 6:50, capping a 68-yard drive. Two minutes later, it was 35-35.
Piedmont 17 Saks 0
An overtime loss by one point to Class 5A Gulf Shores in Week 7 put an end to Piedmont’s hopes of an undefeated football season but the Bulldogs bounced back in fine fashion last Friday. Piedmont ran its record in Class 3A, Region 6 to seven wins in seven tries with a 17-0 shutout of visiting Saks. Piedmont had a 11-play, 80-yard drive that ended on a 17-yard scoring run by Strott on a quarterback draw with 14 seconds to play in the first half. A bad snap on a punt gave the Bulldogs the ball at the Saks 13-yard line. The Wildcats denied Piedmont a touchdown off the error but Strott booted a 24-yard field goal with 6:19 left in the third quarter. The final Piedmont touchdown came on Strott’s 27-yard run.
Piedmont 53 Ashville 20
Ashville scored first but it was almost all Piedmont
PIEDMONT FOOTBALL Four minutes later, Noah Willis scored for the Bulldogs on a 47-yard punt return. The first of three consecutive extra points by Chris Strott made it 7-6 with 7:48 left in the first quarter and Piedmont never trailed again. The Bulldogs scored two more times before the first quarter ended. A 14yard pass to Jamie Major for the touchdown, produced the first. With 2:10 left in the first, Major capped a 75-yard drive in seven plays with a 17yard run. Ahead 21-6 after one quarter, Piedmont added two touchdowns and a field goal in the second quarter and led 36-6 at halftime. A fumble recovery by Collin Bradley at the Ashville 35 led to a 8-yard scoring run by Mickey Jackson, normally a defensive lineman. Jamaal Johnson scored on a 55-yard punt return with 8:07 to go before halftime. Strott added a 26-yard field goal at the 3:30 mark. Derrick Jackson returned the second half kickoff for 95 yards and a touchdown. Strott’s kick made it 43-6.
Piedmont 42 Cherokee County 9
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 Page 9
Piedmont 62 Winston County 29 Out-numbered and out-muscled, the only realistic chance visiting Winston County had of upsetting Piedmont, ranked No. 3 in the final ASWA Class 3A poll, in the opening round of the Alabama High School Athletic Association football playoffs was for Piedmont to play its poorest game of the season. Instead, the Region 6 champion Bulldogs rushed for 476 yards and passed for another 179 yards and cruised past the Yellow Jackets 62-29. Piedmont coach Steve Smith pronounced the 655 yards of total offense the most gained by any team coached by him, at Piedmont or at Cedar Bluff. A total of 13 players carried the ball at least once for Piedmont. Five Bulldogs had at least one pass reception. Winston County came into the Piedmont game with three wins and seven losses and a team only faintly resembling the one veteran head coach Dan Hogan expected to field com■ See page 10
Motivation was not an issue for the Piedmont Bulldogs Friday night. Cherokee County handed the Bulldogs a trip to the woodshed in Centre last year. This year, playing in Piedmont, the Bulldogs returned the favor by a 42-9 score. With the win, Piedmont closed its regular season 9-1. Derrick Jackson started the parade of touchdowns against Cherokee County with a 13-yard run with 6:23 left in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Piedmont moved 74 yards in seven plays. A 43-yard run by Major got the ball to the Cherokee County 2 and Jamaal Johnson scored on the next play. Nine minutes later, Strott capped an 83-yard drive with an 18-yard run. The Bulldogs moved 57 yards and scored on their first possession of the second half. Jamaal Johnson scored on an 8-yard pass. Piedmont before Cade Bradley hit Willis on a 61-yard Hwy. 21 South Jacksonville scoring strike with 1:38 in the third. Derrick Jackson scored the game’s final touchdown on a 65-yard interception return with 3:45 to play. Major ran seven times for 82 yards. Strott had 10 carries for 69 yards and Derrick Jackson seven for 34 yards. Strott was 7-of-11 passing for 90 yards. Bradley’s 61yard completion to Willis was his only attempt. Willis had three catches for 90 yards and Jamaal Johnson three for 49 yards. Overall, the Bulldogs ran for 193 yards and passed for 151 yards. Major and Collin Bradley led on defense with nine tackles apiece. Mickey Jackson and Willis each recorded eight tackles. Jackson’s tackles included Phone: 256-447-9087 two sacks.
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thereafter. Piedmont’s 53-20 win at Ashville last Friday earned the Bulldogs a spotless 8-0 record in Class 3A’s Region 6 and the region championship. On the game’s first play from scrimmage, a double pass went for 68 yards and a touchdown. The snap on the extra point attempt was bobbled and Piedmont’s Deion Ammons made sure the kick never got into the air.
10 Page 10 Wednesday, December 15, 2010 ■ Continued from page 9
Piedmont’s 28-7 win over Plainview in the Class 3A quarterfinal round won’t be remembered as a pretty football game. The Alabama High School Athletic Association doesn’t require style points to advance each week, just more points on the scoreboard. “We’re glad we won. We didn’t feel like we played our best offensive game by any stretch of the imagination,” said Piedmont head coach Steve Smith, adding that Piedmont’s three turnovers and more than 100 yards in penalties would give his team plenty to work on in practice this week. The Bulldogs’ Derrick Jackson opened the scoring against Plainview on a 21-yard run with 3:46 left in the first quarter. Early in the second quarter, an interception by Jamaal Johnson gave Piedmont the ball at the Plainview 47-yard line. On Piedmont’s first play, Strott and Noah Willis combined for 45 yards on a pass. Strott passed to Johnson for the final two yards on the next snap. The Bulldogs added their third touchdown on a three-play, 50-yard drive following a Plainview punt. After an incomplete pass, Jamie Major scored on a 35-yard carry with 7:31 still to play in the third quarter.
Hamilton 27 Piedmont 21
Piedmont’s early momentum faded and visiting Hamilton eliminated the Bulldogs 27-21, one win short of an improbable return trip to the 3A championship game. The Bulldogs (12-2) were more than competitive in the early going against Hamilton (14-0). Piedmont moved 72 yards in six plays, all on the ground. On a third-and-4 play from the Hamilton 39-yard line, Derrick Jackson broke an arm tackle at the line of scrimmage and raced away for a touchdown with 7:59 still to play in the first quarter. Strott’s extra point made it 7-0. With Piedmont ahead 7-6 and set to receive the ball to start the second half, there was no sense of danger at intermission. That changed on the fourth snap of the third quarter when Hamilton’s Daniel Shaw intercepted a pass by Strott and returned it for a touchdown. On a fake kick, Coleman ran for a 2-point conversion and Hamilton led 14-7. Early in the fourth quarter, Hamilton scored again on a 54-yard pass play over the middle from quarterback Mitch Stults to Shaw. Vargas’ kick made it 21-7 with 10:26 to go. With 6:22 left, Piedmont got the ball at the Piedmont 12 after Hamilton punted. Strott began a run of eight consecutive pass completions with a 12-yard toss to Willis. Derrick Jackson ran for 20 yards then Strott hit Major coming out of the backfield and Major turned the short toss into a 56-yard scoring play. Major’s 2-point run failed but Piedmont trailed only 21-13 with 5:43 left. Hamilton responded with a 65-yard drive on the ground that took almost four minutes off the clock. Shaw scored on a 7-yard run with 2:01 to go but the kick failed. Johnson returned the ensuing kickoff 28 yards to the Piedmont 44. Strott had four completions to Willis and one to Garner before capping the drive with a 2-yard pass to Johnson with 33.9 seconds remaining. Strott ran for the 2-point play.
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Senior Jamaal Johnson’s three touchdowns put Piedmont on top three times and sophomore Jamie Major gave the Bulldogs the lead for good as Class 3A’s No. 5 team downed No. 4 Cor-
Piedmont 28 Plainview 7
In the fourth quarter, Piedmont held the Bears on downs at the Plainview 26. Strott passed to Sloan Garner for nine yards and the Bulldogs’ final touchdown with 5:26 left.
Piedmont 28 Cordova 21
dova 28-21 in the second round of the AHSAA football playoffs. In his 48 minutes, Johnson caught six passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns. He ran twice for 23 yards including a 5-yard scoring run. On defense, he made 14 tackles, recovered a fumble and had an interception that ended Cordova’s final possession. The win, at Piedmont’s Field of Champions, was Piedmont’s second playoff win over the Blue Devils in as many years. Last year, the Bulldogs won 35-28 in overtime in the Class 3A state championship game at BryantDenny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. Cordova never punted but Piedmont’s defense created three turnovers. A fumble caused by Landon Pruitt and recovered by Johnson ended the Blue Devil’s first possession. In the fourth quarter, first Noah Willis then Johnson intercepted Cordova passes. The Bulldogs also forced Cordova to turn the ball over on downs three in the second half.
ing out of spring practice. Avoiding the trap of playing down to the level of its competition, Piedmont (10-1) dominated from the start. On offense, the game plan – at least in the early going – was to run a play then line up quickly and run another. In the first half, the Bulldogs had the ball seven times and scored six touchdowns. Four of the six scores came on plays of more than 40 yards. Senior running back Derrick Jackson got the show started, turning Piedmont’s first offensive play into a 69yard touchdown run. The Bulldogs moved 58 yards in seven plays for their second score. Jamie Major finished it with a 9-yard scamper. Major then scored on a 64yard run. The next drive required three plays. Strott passed to Willis on a deep fly pattern for 55 yards and a 28-0 lead with 7:26 to play in the second quarter. With 6:28 before halftime, reserves entered the backfield and produced an 81-yard scoring drive. Sarandon Dunbar capped the drive with a 3-yard run. Dunbar ended the game as Piedmont’s leading rusher with eight carries for 169 yards. Major fell on a squib kick at the Piedmont 38-yard line. Derrick Jackson raced away from the Yellow Jackets for 42 yards and a 41-7 halftime lead. Piedmont’s Clay Dent recovered an onside kick at the Piedmont 49 to start the second half. Dunbar ran for 47 yards on the first play from scrimmage and Exavyer Jackson scored on a 4yard run on the next play. Junior high quarterback Tyler Lusk, an eighth-grader, returned for his second series against the older Winston County players. The Bulldogs had not attempted a pass in the second half but on third down Lusk heaved a pass downfield that hit classmate C.J Savage in full stride. The play was good for 51 yards and Piedmont’s final touchdown.
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Piedmont’s quarterback Chris Strott gains yardage in the first half against Hamilton in the playoffs.
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