Sometimes all that matters in a high school football game is finding a way to win. The Auburn High Tigers did just that against Park Crossing on Thursday.
The Tigers — fresh off a 34-7 loss to Central-Phenix City and forced to play without starting quarterback Matthew Caldwell — did all they had to do in order to handle the Thunderbirds and walk away winners of a 44-28 contest. The victory featured another great performance by the uber-talented Tigers’ defense, which had fumble return touchdowns from Brad Harper and
Sophomore quarterback Patrick McGlon made the plays the Tigers needed in order to get the road victory, chief among them being a 45-yard touchdown pass to Zae Ray in the second quarter that gave the Tigers a lead they never surrendered.
The non-region victory was by no means a perfect showing, but it should be enough to springboard Auburn into its first-round playoff game at home against Murphy on Friday.
“I’m thankful for our team and the season we’ve had,” Auburn head coach Adam Winegarden told Wings 94.3 after the game. “I’m excited for the playoffs.”
Warriors with a win
It was by no means a cake walk, but the Lee-Scott Warriors did enough Thursday to end the regular season with a victory.
Lee-Scott went back and forth with Springwood on a senior night, but the Warriors had enough in their arsenal to walk away with a 26-20 victory. The win stands as Lee-Scott’s fifth of 2019 after going 0-10 last fall.
One of the major keys to Lee-Scott’s latest win was its versatility at running back. Fullback Thomas Whatley and running back Mailon Reese combined for 23 carries for 239 yards and three touchdowns, and fellow running back Garrett Keller contributed with nine carries for 52 yards as well.
“Thomas, Mailon and Garett all did a great job,” Lee-Scott head coach Robert Johnson said. “The offensive line was super. Our defense stepped up when it had to. I’m just so proud that we were able to make it work at the end.”
Running the ball well was crucial in Lee-Scott slipping by Springwood, and it’s apparent the Warriors will have to replicate that play against two-time defending state champion Monroe Academy on Friday.
Home sweet home
Notasulga head coach Anthony Jones’ Blue Devils might have had a bye this week, but Friday night surely felt like a win for the fifth-year head coach.
The Blue Devils were scoreboard watching on Friday as they waited to find out who won a three-way tiebreaker between themselves, Wadley and Billingsley. Wadley’s 30-8 loss to Randolph County meant it was celebration time for Notasulga, as it meant the Blue Devils would have their first home playoff game since 2016.
Notasulga hosts Linden on Friday, and Jones is excited for his players to get a chance to put on another show for the local community.
“It was a goal that we set. When we lost to Lanett, we were trying to win all of our games, and we won four out of five at the end and lost to Wadley on a heartbreaker. Still being able to get the second seed and host a playoff game was something we felt like the community and the school needed,” Jones said. “Hats off to the team, the coaching staff and most of all the seniors we have for putting it on the line every Friday night.”
Gators get back
Glenwood wound up on the wrong end of a 43-0 loss to Autauga Academy on Friday to close the regular season. Despite the one-sided nature of the game, don’t take that as an excuse to write off the Gators.
The Gators certainly had their struggles, but it’s important to remember they came against AISA’s No. 1 team per the ASWA and a Class AA program that has at least played in the state championship game the last three years.
Glenwood also proved last season that losing to the Generals was of little concern in the games that followed. The Gators shook off a blowout loss to Autauga in 2018 and promptly reached the Class AAA semifinals, where they were a yard away from reaching the state title game.
Based on the talent the Gators have this year, head coach Jason Gibson isn’t hitting the panic button to start the postseason.
“We lost to (Autauga) 61-14 last season, and the postseason went pretty well for us,” Gibson said. “There’s some issues there, but this game’s over with. We’ll move on.”
Valley might have been shut out Friday for the first time all season, but there’s two reasons why there shouldn’t be any panic about the Rams.
The Rams fell to Benjamin Russell 14-0 in a game in which two of their best players couldn’t help the offense when it needed it. Quarterback KD Hutchinson was held out of the game due to an injury that occurred in practice in the days before the matchup, and running back BJ Baker left the game after getting hurt.
Although Hutchinson and Baker have been banged up, all indications are they will be good to go Friday. Their return will be crucial when the Rams host Vigor, the team that was the Class 5A state runner-up in 2018.