October 27, 2013 1:36:23 AM
REFORM, Ala. -- The Pickens County High School football team completed an undefeated run through the Alabama High School Activities Association's Class 1A, Region 5 race Friday night.
The Tornadoes improved to 9-0 and finished 7-0 in the region with a 34-8 victory against Berry. Pickens County clinched the top seed in the region last week with a 35-13 victory against Marion County. The Tornadoes will play host to the first round of the playoffs, which begin Nov. 8.
"It is good to go through region play undefeated because you want to be the No. 1 seed," Pickens County coach Patrick Plott said. "It is a huge advantage when it comes to the playoffs. It is special to be able to do that, since we weren't able to do that last year."
Speaking of special, Jermarcus Brown was just that again for the Tornadoes. He rushed for 234 yards and scored all five of his team's touchdowns.
"That's what we expect from him," Plott said. "He has really good speed, and if we can't get him outside, he is gone. He is a special player and he has been doing that all year for us."
Brown scored on touchdown runs of 29, 25, 32, 7, and 92 yards. Each score came after a big play by the defense. On four occasions, the Tornadoes stopped the Wildcats on downs. On another possession, an interception gave the ball back to the hosts. Each time, the Tornadoes went on the offensive and Brown knew how to end the drive.
Berry (5-4, 4-3) also will be playoff bound as the region's fourth seed. The Wildcats scored first, moving 80 yards on 13 plays.
"They caught us a little by surprise with some of the things that they were doing," Plott said. "After a couple of possessions, we started hitting people and played the way we have played all year."
Pickens County quarterback Devonte' Simon was 3 of 6 for 73 yards. He had 35 rushing yards on eight carries despite being slowed by an ankle injury.
Berry turned the ball over three times in Pickens County territory.
Jeremiah Chaney led Berry with 22 rushes for 130 yards, while Terrance Hollingsworth ran 27 times for 90 yards. The Wildcats had the football for 34 of the 48 minutes.
Pickens County will be tested in its quest to complete an undefeated regular season. It will face Class 3A opponent and longtime rival Gordo (8-2) on Friday. The Green Wave handed the Tornadoes one of their two regular-season defeats last season with a 14-13 victory at home.
n Aliceville 56, Marion 0: At Aliceville, Ala., the Yellow Jackets finished as one of three teams tied for first place in the AHSAA Class 2A, Region 4 standings.
Aliceville (6-3, 6-1 region) could finish as the third seed in the standings thanks to new tiebreakers involving record against higher-classification opponents. Aliceville hasn't beaten anyone outside of Class 2A competition this season.
"This was an outstanding effort on both sides of the ball," Aliceville coach Charles Moody said. "We had the winds taken out of our sails last week (in a 28-27 loss to Oakman). We challenged the kids to come out strong to do our part to make sure we go 6-1 in the district."
Joe Robinson caught two touchdown passes and Christopher Crowell added two rushing scores. Robinson scored on touchdown passes of 38 and 29 yards from Santiago Taylor, while Crowell scored on runs of 1 and 42 yards.
Taylor was 8 of 9 for 177 yards. Aliceville scored on six first-half possessions and led 42-0 at halftime.
Stephon Dunner, Jaterrius Steele, Darion Manning, and Qydarius Matthews each added a rushing score for the Yellow Jackets.
"We have done a lot better job of eliminating mistakes (on offense) in the second half of the season," Moody said. "I think it is a sign of the growth we have had on that side of the ball. Defensively, we picked up where we left off last year.
"On offense, it was a matter of some of the new guys getting the experience they needed to compete on this level. It starts with Santiago. He does a great job of making sure the guys are in the right place to make plays.
Qua'Darius Hinton paced the defense with nine tackles.
Aliceville will play host to Greene County (1-8) Friday night. That game could loom large in the playoff race since it is another chance for the Yellow Jackets to beat a higher-classification opponent.
n Lamar County 35, Hale County 7: At Vernon, Ala., the Bulldogs clinched a share of the AHSAA Class 2A, Region 4 championship.
Lamar County (8-1, 6-1 region) can secure the region's top-seed in the AHSAA playoffs by beating Class 3A foe Winfield (6-3) Friday night on the road. A victory would give the Bulldogs two wins against higher-classification opponents and the top seed in the playoffs, which begin Nov. 8.
"We have been playing with our backs to the wall for a couple of weeks now," Lamar County coach Ken Adams said. "After the loss to Aliceville, we knew it would be an uphill climb to win the region. We have one game left to help us achieve all we wanted to achieve during the regular season."
Lamar County has bounced back from that loss to win three-straight region games. Entering the final week of non-region play, Lamar County, Aliceville, and Oakman are each tied for the top spot in the region. It will come down to the new tiebreaker system and the final week of the regular season.
Against Hale County, Alex Wheeler ran 19 times for 104 yards, while Dallas Cockerham rushed 19 times for 67 yards. Each back scored a touchdown, with Wheeler going in on a 6-yard run and Cockerham scoring on a 4-yard run.
The other Lamar County touchdowns included Ryan Barham on a 3-yard run, Josh Smith on a 1-yard run, and Christian Clay on a fumble recovery in the end zone.
Dusty Vann led the defense with four tackles, while Ty Herron had three tackles and a sack.
Hale County (5-4, 4-3) was held to 108 yards of total offense. Deacon Medders scored on a 20-yard touchdown for the Wildcats, who will be the region's fourth playoff team this season.
"I am really proud the kids did not let the Aliceville loss define our season," Adams said. "They have really responded and played well the last three weeks. We knew we needed to come out and attack early. Our offensive line responded and really helped put us in a position to have success."
Lamar County has won by an average margin of 33 points per game in its winning streak.
n South Lamar 48, Parrish 0: At Millport, Ala., the Stallions secured their third victory by winning the final AHSAA Class 1A, Region 5 game of the season.
South Lamar (3-6, 2-5 region) matches the 2010 squad, which was the last team to win three games in a season. South Lamar can have its most wins in a season since 2008 with a victory Friday night at home against Class 2A foe Sulligent (1-8).
"To the kids' credit, they have worked hard all season," South Lamar coach Shannon McGregory said. "When you have not had a lot of success lately, it is easy to get down. We had a difficult stretch of games early in the season. That really helped us play better down the stretch."
South Lamar ran the ball for 288 yards and five touchdowns. The Stallions also did their part on defense. Not only did South Lamar post its second shutout, but Talbert Pate and Holden Fields had interception returns for touchdowns.
Pate finished with a 41-yard touchdown and a 41-yard interception return. Fields added a 37-yard touchdown run and a 26-yard interception return. Canaan Fleming scored on runs of 3 and 26 yards, while Hershel Smith scored on a 1-yard run.
"We made a lot of changes on our offense (at the beginning of the season)," McGregory said. "I am really proud at the progress there. The players have a better understanding of what we as coaches want now. We have made a lot progress on both sides of the ball and are playing with more confidence."
Smith had 84 yards on eight carries, Fields had 55 yards on four, Fleming had 46 yards on four, and Pate had 43 yards on two. Aaron Holliman had six tackles, a sack, and also blocked a kick.
n Sulligent 41, Hatch 6: At Uniontown, Ala., the Blue Devils snapped their season-opening eight-game losing streak by winning their final AHSAA Class 2A, Region 4 game.
Sulligent (1-8, 1-6 region) will conclude the season Friday night when it travels to rival South Lamar (3-6).
n Patrician Academy 50, Pickens Academy 31: At Butler, Ala., the Pirates found the going rough against the highly regarded Class 2A Saints.
Pickens Academy (7-2) rushed for 355 yards and five touchdowns. The Pirates also passed for 41 yards and had 11 first downs, but they committed six turnovers.
Josh Lewis rushed 20 times for 288 yards and three touchdowns. Chance Britt rushed 13 times for 67 yards and two touchdowns. Lance Acker had a 30-yard reception. Daniel Cameron had six tackles, while Ryan Harcrow had five.
Patrician Academy (8-2) had 374 yards of total offense and 11 first downs.
Pickens Academy will play host to Clarke Prep (5-4) Friday night to end the regular season. The Pirates will be the Alabama Independent School Association's No. 2 seed from Class A, Region 2 when the playoffs begin Nov. 8.