Notasulga head coach Anthony Jones could rattle off the scores until he was blue in the face. The Blue Devils were oh so close again and again this season, leaving him to only recite scores and times in which Notasulga was in the game before the bottom finally fell out.
On Friday, the Blue Devils finally proved they could finish.
Notasulga took down LaFayette 14-6 on the road, using a Bulldogs’ muffed punt to fuel the first of two second-half touchdowns. The win snaps a two-game skid for the Blue Devils and gives the team momentum going into Thursday, when they face Loachapoka for what could be the region’s fourth and final playoff seed.
The game was not perfect by any means, as Notasulga had two turnovers and 12 penalties in the loss. Still, Jones’ players answered the call and showed Notasulga isn’t a pushover.
“I'm proud of these guys and the way they hung in there,” Jones said. “Hats off to LaFayette and their coaching staff. I knew coach (James) Lucas wasn't going to lay down, but I'm happy my guys didn't lay down for the first time in three weeks. For the first time in three weeks, we put a game together.”
Jay makes the play
Notasulga’s Jayquan “Jay” Lindsay struggled last Friday in a loss to Lanett, but Jones reminded the junior receiver the great thing about football is it doesn’t carry over to the next week. As if to prove that point, Jones made what was the play that set the stage for Notasulga.
After a LaFayette returner muffed a punt, Lindsay was there to pick up the bouncing ball and give Notasulga possession on the Bulldogs’ 1-yard line. Lindsay also contributed on offense with a 13-yard reception for a big third-down conversion early in the action.
“I thought it was a big play with my team. We were tied up, and we needed a play. It put us in a good position to score a touchdown,” Lindsay said. “I was thinking, ‘I’ve got to get this ball for my team. I’ve got to get it.’”
Lindsay isn’t the biggest player on the Blue Devils’ roster, but he showed Friday that sound play outweighs size every single time.
“Man, he's only 5-7, 130 pounds, but he was playing like he was 6-5, 230 tonight,” Jones said.
The Reel deal
Reeltown had the tough task of travelling to Maplesville on Friday and to face a Red Devils’ team that beat the Rebels 34-14 and reached the Class 1A semifinals last season. This time, the Rebels showed up and showed out.
The Rebels quickly dispatched what was Class 1A’s second-ranked team, scoring 33 points in a row en route to a 33-21 win. The victory not only served as revenge – this time it was Reeltown handing Maplesville its first loss of the season – but it legitimized the Rebels as a true contender in Class 2A.
“It took a total team effort,” Johnson said. “Defensively, we just swarmed around. The guys really played good. It was the most complete game we’ve played – especially the first three quarters.”
Warriors come out to play
When it comes to Lee-Scott Academy football, what a difference a year makes.
This time last year, the Warriors were struggling through what would be a winless campaign filled with injuries and tough losses. On Friday, Lee-Scott had another impressive win in a 52-21 thumping of Pike Liberal Arts fueled by Thomas Whatley’s 307-yard performance on the ground.
Lee-Scott head coach Robert Johnson repeatedly said during the offseason that this team was better than 0-11. Although the Warriors proved that point early on this fall, they are starting to show they are capable of much more than just a win here and there.
“We’re definitely improving. There’s no doubt," Johnson said. "We’re getting stronger. … but I think the biggest thing is understanding that the kids are starting to believe.”
Adding to the Story
Lanett’s 20-15 road win over Handley on Friday had a little bit of everything, including a lightning delay. Although beating a Class 4A team as a Class 1A program is special in and of itself, the Panthers’ latest win was even more significant for head coach Clifford Story.
Lanett’s sixth win of the season is Story’s 81st as head coach, tying him for the most in Panthers’ history. Story stands alongside Mal Morgan, who went 81-30-3 in 12 seasons as head coach from 1947 to 1958.
Story, who is 81-38 in the middle of his 11th season, said Friday’s win showed him his Panthers can compete for another state championship.
“This game right here showed me we have enough grit and tenacity to go deep in the playoffs,” Story said. “I was so proud of my team because it was an up-and-down game all night long. For us to finally battle for fourth quarters and beat a team like Handley, I think it’s going to add some momentum to us moving forward.”