PREP FOOTBALL: Aggies preparing to make playoff push

(Martha Needham/The Cullman Tribune)

FAIRVIEW, Ala. — Halfway through the 2021 season, Fairview has found itself in a very familiar spot with a chance to host the first round of the playoffs on the line going into this week’s game at Boaz. Let’s take a look at what led us here. 

Although Fairview has lost some key pieces such as former offensive lineman Levi Garner, who is currently playing at Jacksonville State, Fairview has returned a core that has led this year’s squad to a strong 4-1 start (2-1 in the region). At the center of that core is Senior quarterback Parker Martin. Coming off back to back All-State seasons at defensive back, Martin has shown he’s much more than just a defensive player. 

He’s thrown for 665 yards so far this season completing 45 of 67 passes, which accounts for a 67% completion percentage. Within those passes he’s thrown 13 touchdowns to only two interceptions and as if that wasn’t impressive enough, he’s added 322 yards on the ground and eight more touchdowns. 

Martin has delivered big play after big play for the high-powered Aggie offense, but he’s continued the defensive dominance as well. The stat sheet may only show one interception so far and a handful of deflections, but the tape shows something different: don’t throw no. 9’s way. He has made life hard on opposing quarterbacks, taking away the deep ball. 

Who are the weapons at Martin’s disposal? Starting in the backfield, senior Tyler Simmons and Sophomore Eli Frost have been the other two parts of three-headed monster I deemed as King Ghidorah in week one. The trio has proven to be able to score both quickly and from anywhere on the field. Simmons has carried the ball 51 times for 393 yards and three touchdowns while Frost has carried it 43 times for 382 yards and five touchdowns. If you’re not doing the math those are averages 8.9 and 7.7 yards per carry. The ground game has punished defenses and made the next set of weapons even deadlier. As opposing defenses have tried to focus in on the Fairview rushing attack, the Aggies’ receiving core has proven to be dangerous as well. Jameson Goble, Caden Jennings, Mickey Chambers and Bryson Chamness have all been utilized in the passing game. All four have reeled in three touchdown passes from Martin, with the remaining touchdown pass going to Dalton Payne. The Aggie receivers are all averaging near 10 receptions and roughly 150 yards between the four. Chamness is leading the group with 12 receptions on the year so far, while Jennings has hauled in the most yards at 183 yards on seven receptions for a mind boggling 26.1 yards a catch. Long story short, there is no simple way to stop this Fairview offense. 

While all the above has helped the Aggies put up points, it’s the big nasties up front making life easier on the Aggies’ skill players. Tyde Bagwell and Ethan Bice have been key offensive lineman this season, opening up the running lanes and giving Martin time to throw. The line of scrimmage, as it often is, has been a huge part of this season’s success. 

Defensively, this team has been stingy on all levels. The first unit kept West Point out of the end zone most of the night, as well as Douglas and DAR. Vinemont hung 28 on them in the first half only to get shut out in the second half and against the top team on the schedule, Guntersville, they held them to 13 through three quarters of play. As balanced as the offense has been this season, the defense has proven to be strong as well. You could point to players all over the field for playmaking from Bice to Simmons to Payne to Cale Foster. This defense doesn’t like giving up points.

Fairview also has an unsung hero on special teams, his name is Elijah Guyton. Often throughout the spring and summer you could look over to the football field at Fairview and see Guyton with his mom, his dad and a big bag of footballs. Kick after kick, he worked on his craft. He’s made 26 of his 29 extra point attempts and has pinned offense after offense on the 20 to start their drives. Guyton has been a touchback machine for Fairview and has a crucial part of winning the field position battle. 

The Aggies head to Boaz for a region showdown this week with playoff hosting rights up for grabs. Fairview is coming off a bye week, while Boaz is coming off a road win over 6A Albertville. The improved Pirates feature a very talented running back in an offensive style that srongly resembles West Point’s. A win Friday night will put them in a strong position to finish with another great season and even a first round playoff game at Dafford-Smith Stadium.

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