Last Friday, Lanett senior quarterback Kristian Story only needed to score twice to set a new state record for total touchdowns in a career. Like usual, Story went above and beyond to exceed expectations.
Kristian put on a show at Valley’s Ram Stadium on Friday, throwing for 303 yards and four touchdowns while also rushing for 63 yards and two touchdowns in the Panthers’ 41-21 victory over Isabella in the Class 1A quarterfinals. His scoring outburst not only set a new AHSAA state record at 166 touchdowns, but he also set an additional state record with 12,528 total yards of offense during his high school career.
Kristian set the touchdown record about midway through the first quarter Friday with a deep shot to Larontavious Hurston, who made the catch and found the end zone for a 51-yard score. After a brief scare courtesy the referees, Story knew it was time to celebrate.
“I just saw it was one-on-one coverage with Larontavious. I just threw the ball up for grabs, and he made a great play on the ball and got in the end zone,” Kristian said. “On the play I saw a flag on the ground, but that was just a sideline warning. I got kind of scared for a moment. I was like, 'They're going to take it back.' They didn't.
“It was a surreal moment, but I had to just settle back in and hone in on the game because I knew if we lost, man, those records wouldn't mean anything to me because we didn't come out on top.”
Kristian’s father, Lanett head coach Clifford Story, echoed the same feedback after the record-breaking score. Lanett lead Isabella 13-3 after the deep touchdown pass, and the last thing Clifford wanted was the big night to be tainted by a season-ending loss.
Despite his concerns about his son and the Panthers’ play for the rest of the game, Clifford allowed himself to take in the moment.
“I was very emotional, but I did all I could to try and hold back the tears. My stomach was in a knot, actually. Then we walked over to the sidelines and I saw (Kristian’s older brother) Trey was the first one to meet him and congratulate him with a hug.That did something to me,” Clifford said. “I was able to grab him, hug him and tell him I was proud of him. I was able to hold back the tears, but it was just one of those surreal moments. I'm just so proud of him.”
Clifford said Kristian had told him in the cafeteria Friday that he was feeling ready to go, which was uncharacteristic for the normally-reserved Kristian. He backed up his words against the previously-undefeated Mustangs, adding a two-yard rushing score, a three-yard touchdown pass to Hurston and a 34-yard touchdown pass to Seidrion Langston and a 33-yard rushing touchdown before the night was over.
The Alabama commit owns two records previously held by Pinson Valley’s Bo Nix, who is now the starting quarterback at Auburn. Nix reflected on what it takes to put up numbers like that after the Tigers’ took care of business against Samford on Saturday.
“(It takes) a lot of snaps and a lot of games. However your competition is, that helps a lot,” Nix said. “That's great for him. Obviously, he worked really hard to get it.”
Kristian said setting the records was very special, especially in a season that had a rocky start. His offseason shoulder injury left him playing at less than 100 percent in the early part of the year, and he felt the offense was lackluster partly because of it.
Kristian admitted he was worried that he wouldn’t be as good as he was pre-surgery. Clearly, it didn’t take long for that thought to dissipate.
Kristian enters this week’s semifinals game against Sweet Water with 2,335 passing yards and 26 touchdowns along with 1,036 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns in 2019. He’s determined to add to that total on Friday and hopefully again on Dec. 5, when the Class 1A state championship game will be held.
Kristian pointed out how much it meant to set the records in the quarterfinals after the Panthers were put out in that round in 2018. Having the records is a meaningful achievement for Kristian, but he’s fully concentrated on adding his second state title to his ever-growing collection of accomplishments.
“We have been working super hard as a team since January,” Kristian said. “For it to be my senior year and we've gotten past where we were last year (means a lot). To be this close to another state championship just feels really good, and it would feel really good to leave with another one.”