Playoff Recap: Heartbreak and triumph in round 1

Joe R. McElroy

Photographer Joe R. McElroy captured this awesome shot of Bearcat Owen Lovell on Friday, Nov. 4, 2016.

CULLMAN COUNTY – The momentum in a football game can change quickly when a team gets behind. They press harder, force situations and make mistakes, allowing opponents to cash in on waiting opportunities.

That was basically the story for area teams in the first round of the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) playoffs Friday night.

A rash of mistakes and miscues caused teams to fall behind, attempt comebacks and see the chances of moving into the second round disappear into the evening.

West Point was one such team. The Warriors trailed Wenonah 23-8 with less than 5:00 to play in the first half down in Birmingham in their 5A game. The Warriors threw a pick six, then had a fumble, giving great field position to the Dragons, whose defense scored two touchdowns, turning a close game into a 42-8 Wenonah triumph.

Cullman saw something similar at Ogle Stadium with Decatur. A touchdown on the first drive of the third quarter brought the Bearcats within four points at 14-10.

But the 'Cats could not overcome mistakes, and Decatur burned them with long drives and a solid running game, sending Cullman home with a 35-10 setback.

Cold Springs was down 20-7 to Sheffield when the 2A playoff reached halftime. The Eagles gave up two touchdowns in the first quarter, then started to get some momentum before the Bulldogs took it back and never let it go again.

Sheffield turned the Eagles back 27-14, as Cold Springs completed the season with four consecutive losses, all on the road, after a 5-2 record one week into October.

Holly Pond knew they would be in a for a battle defending 3A state champion and No. 1 ranked Piedmont at the Field of Champions. The Broncos never stopped playing, cutting a 41-7 lead at the start of the fourth period to 41-26 before two late TDs by Piedmont created breathing room and a 55-26 victory.

Addison was the lone team that got control of the game early and finished strong. The No. 3 ranked Bulldogs led Shoals Christian 22-0 after a quarter and went on and put out the Flame 63-20 at A.G. Hicks Stadium in round one of Class 1A competition.

By the time the third quarter ended, the Bulldogs led 57-14 with coach David Smothers clearing the sidelines, having his starters watch the final 12:00 and enjoy the 11th consecutive victory for Addison in 2016.

Next up for the Bulldogs is Spring Garden. The Panthers rolled by South Lamar 41-16 and will come to Addison with a 10-1 record. The Bulldogs and the Panthers face one another for the first time on the gridiron next Friday.

Some schools showed they could win away from their respective campuses in the first of five grueling weeks for AHSAA football postseason.

Hartselle stunned No. 2 seed Albertville 21-7; No. 4 seed Muscle Shoals upset No. 1 seed Oxford 31-17 in games of Region 8 playing Region 7 from Class 6A. Region 8 was 4-0, including Decatur's win over Cullman and a victory by Austin the night before at Ogle Stadium with Pell City.

Class 3A, Region 6 took it on the chin too. Besides Holly Pond falling to Region 5 champion Piedmont, No. 2 J.B. Pennington was beaten by Randolph County 28-6; Region 6 champion Fultondale got thumped at home by Weaver 37-7; Ohatchee outscored Locust Fork 49-28.

Hartselle will get to play at home in the second round vs. Minor, while Decatur plays Ramsay at Legion Field in Birmingham in two key games of opponents who played Cullman this season moving a step closer to Jordan-Hare Stadium for the Super Seven championships the first weekend in December.


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