Fyffe Defense Stands Tall In Class 2A Playoff Win;
Newsome, Hemphill Help Red Devils Earn AHSAA Week 13Spotlight
Fyffe High School’s defense knew all about the Lanett Panthers’ running attack heading into last week’s AHSAA Class 2A football quarterfinal playoff game at Long-Ridgeway Stadium.
The Panthers, featuring one 2,000-yard rusher and another with over 1,000 yards on the year, averaged 42.8 points per game in 11 straight wins – including 56.0 points per game in two playoff wins.
When the dust settled, the Red Devils’ defense won the war as it limited Lanett to just 187 yards, well under its 400-yard average, in a 31-6 win. The Panthers were shut out over the final three quarters as Fyffe, led by linebacker Dakota Newsome and defensive tackle Graeham Hemphill, grabbed Week 13’s AHSAA Prep Spotlight.
Newsome and Hemphill had 11 tackles each. Newsome also had two for losses and Hemphill forced a fumble. Defensive back Will Brown intercepted two passes and running back Trent Thrash, who rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries, added seven tackles, a sack and forced fumble from his linebacker position.
Coach Paul Benefield’s team (12-1) advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 2007 and will host defending state champion Tanner (11-1) Friday night at 7. The winner will advance to the Super 6 Class 2A finals at Bryant-Denny Stadium Dec. 6.
The strong defensive effort edged out an amazing performance by Sweet Water running back Jakoby Aldridge. The 5-foot-6, 165-pound senior rushed for 335 yards and four touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ Class 2A 34-24 quarterfinal victory at Luverne. Down 18-7 late in the second quarter, Aldridge ran two sweeps around right end for 73 and 71 yards, respectively, on successive Sweet Water offensive snaps to give the Bulldogs a lead they never relinquished.
Sweet Water (10-3) hosts Washington County (12-1) Friday with the winner advancing to the 2A finals against the Fyffe-Tanner winner.
Other top performances reported from the quarterfinal round included:
DeAnthony Holcombe, Washington County: Rushed for 271 yards and five touchdowns on 30 carries as the Bulldogs beat Mobile Christian 56-42 in the Class 2A playoffs. It was the second win over MC for the Bulldogs (12-1) this season. Holcombe ran for 212 yards and four scores in the second half.
Jermarcus Brown, Pickens County: Rushed for 261 yards on 33 carries for the Tornadoes (13-0) and scored three touchdowns in a 41-21 Class 1A win over Ragland. Brown scored on a 47-yard punt return, a 48-yard run and a 9-yard run, all in the fourth quarter.
Ito Smith, McGill-Toolen: Rushed 31 times for 175 yards with three touchdowns to lead McGill-Toolen (12-1) to a 28-21 Class 6A win at Smiths Station.
Terrance “Tank” Hollingsworth, Berry: Rushed for 201 yards and scored on a 59-yard run in a 9-8 Class 1A loss to Hubbertville.
Dantley Coker, Southside-Gadsden: Rushed 38 times for 172 yards and three touchdowns in the Panthers' 28-25 win over McAdory. Coker rushed for 1,437 yards in the second half.
Jordan Johnson, Vestavia Hills: Rushed 24 times for 130 yards with a 1-yard touchdown run in the Rebels’ 19-12 Class 6A quarterfinal win over Bob Jones.
Bradrick Shaw, Hoover: Ran for 106 yards on 34 carries, including a 4-yard scoring run, in a 22-21 Class 6A victory over Florence (9-4) to keep the Bucs (13-0) unbeaten.
Kerryon Johnson, Madison Academy: Carried 21 times for 166 yards and TDs of 7 and 10 yards in a 35-34 Class 3A overtime win at Piedmont. His 10-yard TD in OT proved to be the winning score. Teammate Malik Miller added 140 yards rushing and two scores and also had a fumble recovery and an interception on defense
Michael Howard, Spanish Fort: Rushed for 167 yards on 19 attempts with a 73-yard TD run as the unbeaten Toros (13-0) beat previously unbeaten Jackson 36-6 to advance to the Class 5A semifinals for the fourth time in the last five seasons.
Hayden Stephens, Tanner: Carried 29 times for 128 yards and two TDs in a 26-14 win at Montgomery Academy.
Deven Sullivan, Muscle Shoals: Ran for 165 yards and TDs of 12 and 48 yards in a 35-7 win over Athens.
Trent Thrash, Fyffe: Ran for 112 yards and TDs of 1 yard and 3 yards on 19 carries in a 31-6 win over Lanett.
Ryan Carpenter, Colbert County: Carried 30 times for 110 yards and scored both touchdowns (15 and 14 yards) for the Indians (11-2) in a 20-14 Class 3A loss to Saks.
Bradley Northcutt, Auburn: Passed for 305 yards and three TDs and rushed for 65 yards in Auburn’s 42-35 win over Carver-Montgomery in Class 6A. Northcutt’s 32-yard TD pass with 59 seconds left culminated a seven-play, 79-yard drive in just 54 seconds after the Wolverines had taken a 35-34 lead.
Ty Sparks, Piedmont: Was 17-of-24 passing for 211 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-33 overtime loss to Class 3A defending champion Madison Academy.
Tre Smith, Saks: Passed for 153 yards and rushed for 71 as the Wildcats (13-0) downed Colbert County 20-14 in 3A. Smith also had an 80-yard TD run called back for a penalty.
Gunner Roach, UMS-Wright: Threw two touchdown passes, including the game-winner with seven seconds to go, and added a rushing TD in the Bulldogs’ 35-34 Class 4A win at Dadeville.
Austin Ingram, Charles Henderson: Was 8-of-20 passing for 208 yards and three touchdowns, including a 64-yard strike on the third play of game and a 30-yarder with seconds left in the half, in the undefeated Trojans' 34-7 Class 4A win over Clay Central (10-3).
Kendrick Doss, Florence: Accounted for 249 yards and three touchdowns in a 22-21 Class 6A loss to Hoover. Doss threw for 189 yards with a 89-yard touchdown and ran for 60 yards with scores of 3 and 8 yards.
Sam LaPlatney, Montgomery Academy: Caught a 53-yard flea-flicker pass on the first play of the second half to set up one TD and caught a 31-yard pass for another score as the Eagles (11-2) took a 14-12 lead in the third quarter of a 26-14 loss to defending 2A state champion Tanner (11-1).
Tyus O’Neal-El, Auburn: Caught six passes for 162 yards and two scores, including a 32-yard TD pass with 59 seconds left, to lift Auburn (12-1) to a 42-35 win over Carver-Montgomery in Class 6A.
Denard Spears, Piedmont: Caught six passes for 125 yards and one TD and teammate Cody Daughtry had five catches for 106 yards and two scores in the Bulldogs’ 34-33 Class 3A overtime loss to Madison Academy.
DeVon Johnson, J.O. Johnson: Caught six passes for 112 yards, including a 36-yard TD catch, in J.O. Johnson’s 10-8 Class 4A loss to Munford.
Josh Neal, Charles Henderson: Caught four passes for 103 yards and two scores in the Trojans’ 34-7 Class 4A win at Clay Central.
Tyler Lusk, Piedmont: Made two interceptions in the Bulldogs’ 34-33 Class 3A overtime loss to Madison Academy.
Richard McBryde, Charles Henderson: Earned 11 tackles and 1.5 sacks in the Trojans' 34-7 Class 4A win over Clay Central.
Tyler Sims, Saraland: Intercepted a St. Paul’s pass in the second overtime to seal a 20-14 Class 5A victory over the Saints.
Devonte’ Simon, Pickens County: Intercepted a pass on defense, scored on a 5-yard run and threw a 19-yard touchdown pass in the Tornadoes’ 41-21 Class 1A win over Ragland.
Sage Ledbetter, Auburn: Booted field goals of 34 and 35 yards and was 3-of-3 on extra points in the Tigers’ 42-35 Class 6A win over Carver-Montgomery.
Aldrequis Hall, Carver-Montgomery: Returned a kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown with 1:58 remaining to give the Wolverines (10-3) their only lead of the night, 35-34, in a 42-35 Class 6A loss at Auburn.
Cameron Turner, Munford: The junior scooped up a short J.O. Johnson punt that had bounced backwards before the kicking team could down the ball and raced 28 yards to the 2-yard line to set up a 32-yard winning field goal by Brian Kirkland with 5:57 remaining as the Lions nipped the Jaguars 10-8 in Class 4A.
Baylor Barnes, Charles Henderson: Connected on 2-of-2 field goals (33 and 37 yards) in the second quarter and was 4-of-4 on extra points in the Trojans' 34-7 Class 4A win over Clay Central.