December 23, 2009 10:53:00 AM
It was a year to remember for the Lamar County and Pickens County high school football teams.
Both teams made runs for a state title and came up a game shy of playing each other in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 2A state championship game.
Lamar County tied a school record for most wins in a season in Ken Adams'' third season as coach. Pickens County made the state semifinals in Scott Marchant''s first year as a head coach.
Lamar County (13-1) was undefeated until losing to Clay County, while Pickens County (12-2) only lost to Gordo and Reeltown.
For their accomplishments this season, Adams and Marchant are The Commercial Dispatch West Alabama co-Coaches of the Year.
Adams said the Bulldogs couldn''t have enjoyed the season they had without assistant coaches Tim Bobbitt, Steve Brock, David Easley, Justin Lann, Heath Pennington, John David Rogers, and Don Thornton.
"No. 1, it''s a great honor," Adams said of earning coach of the year honors. "But coach of the year should be coaches because of the effort all the coaches put in to get these kids to play each week. It''s a great honor to win it from the standpoint that it means your program has come full circle. We''ve all been together for three years. The coaches know what to expect and the players know what to expect. It''s continuity in a program."
Marchant feels as strongly about Pickens County assistant coaches Barry Ambrose, Eddie Lee Doss, Jerome Giles, Malcolm Giles, Tavoris Lacey, Chris McCrary, Lee Smith, John Stepp, and the others who aided the Tornadoes in their bid for a state championship.
"We had a great year and I feel really blessed," Marchant said. "We had a bunch of good kids and good football players to coach. I was blessed with a lot of good coaches who helped me. I had a lot of good people here at the school who helped me. We have a good administration."
Under Adams'' guidance, Lamar County beat South Lamar 61-20, Cold Springs 47-12, Cleveland 48-30, Sulligent 21-20, R.C. Hatch 46-12, Falkville 43-0, Addison 21-14, Oakman 58-13, Winston County 21-0, and Isabella 48-0 during the regular season, and Red Bay 42-0, Tanner 28-27 in overtime, and Ider 35-13 in the playoffs.
The Bulldogs were strong on both sides of the ball, averaging 37.8 points and allowing 14.2 points per game.
Adams would prefer to pass the credit on to the assistant coaches, but Lamar County quarterback Michael Bradford said Adams deserves a lot of the credit.
"He did a great job," Bradford said. "He''s been with us for three years and each year he comes in he works harder and coaches harder and gets everybody ready to play.
"He kept us focused. He made sure we played with the same intensity every Friday night when we stepped on the field, and he always made sure we practiced hard every day."
Lamar County tied the school record for wins in a season established in 1984 and equaled in 1992.
Through Adams'' effort, Lamar County enjoyed its most successful season since Kenneth McKinney was the head coach. McKinney coached the Bulldogs to a state championship in 1984 and runner-up finish in 1992.
"A lot of people can think back to the ''80s and coach McKinney," Adams said. "If they look at it, we''re running the same stuff he ran. We didn''t re-invent anything."
Adams played football at Itawamba AHS in Fulton and was aware of McKinney''s success at Lamar County.
There was part of Adams that wanted to return Lamar County to its glory days under McKinney when he took over the program in 2007.
"I got to meet him since and he''s always been supportive of us" Adams said of McKinney. "I know he helps (his son) David (McKinney) at Gordo, but every time I''ve seen coach McKinney he''s been nothing but helpful and the things he''s said to me and about the community have been nothing but positive."
Pickens County was in contention for an undefeated season until it lost to Gordo in its regular-season finale.
The Tornadoes began the season by beating Greensboro 48-24, Shades Mountain Christian 67-7, Thorsby 33-14, Hale County 34-6, Aliceville 13-0, Isabella 52-6, American Christian 26-0, Vincent 34-6, and Fultondale 14-9.
In the playoffs rolled, the Tornadoes beat Keith 57-24, Goshen 48-14, and three-time defending state champion Leroy 19-12 before losing to Reeltown.
"He got a lot out of us," Pickens County junior quarterback and safety Deion Curry said. "We didn''t make it to our goal (of winning a state championship), but we accomplished a lot this year."
Pickens County was strong on both sides of the ball, averaging 37.2 points and allowing 12.1 points per game.
Marchant didn''t know what to expect his first season as a head coach, but he was confident the Tornadoes had the talent to have a successful season.
"I''m a little disappointed we didn''t make the championship game," Marchant said. "I''m disappointed for our kids and our community, but overall I just feel very blessed. I know there are a lot of coaches that have been coaching for a long time and haven''t gotten to the semifinal round of the playoffs, so I just feel real blessed to be part of a great football team and a bunch of great kids and a good community that supports football the way folks in Reform do."
Marchant was the defensive coordinator for seven years at Pickens County before taking over for Patrick Plott this season.
Under Marchant''s direction, Pickens County advanced to the fourth round of the state playoffs for the first time since 2001 when John Montgomery was the head coach.
"No doubt he''s a great coach," Curry said. "He''s good enough to coach a state championship team, and we''re going to try to make that happen next year."