Trio of Saks Defenders Grab Playoff Spotlight by David Holtsford, ahsaa.com MONTGOMERY – A trio of Saks High school defenders Shon Elston, Jashun Prothro and Jalen McCants delivered a game-winning gem in the final minute of the fourth quarter last Friday night to lift the Wildcats to a 46-43 victory over Plainview in the first round of the AHSAA Class 3A State Football Playoffs last week to earn the AHSAA Football Playoff Spotlight for week one of the 2021 state playoffs. With the game winding down and the Wildcats clinging to a three-point lead, Prothro and McCants forced a Plainview fumble as the Saks 2-yard line with 50 seconds remaining and Elston recovered as Saks (10-1) held on for the playoff win. Ironically, the game had been an offensive shootout at that point. Plainview (7-4), coached by Nick Ledbetter, had 507 total yards and Saks (10-1), coached by Jonathan Miller, had 412 for a combined 919 total yards. The Wildcats trailed 43-40 when quarterback Sean Parnell connected with receiver Deontae Elston for an 88-yard touchdown pass with 2:23 to take the lead for the final time. The Bears, with had 464 rushing yards with three backs, Levi Brown, Dylan McCullough and Andrew Hall each rushing for more than 100 yards, marched back down field after Saks’ score to set up the big defensive play for the Wildcats. Parnell finished with 222 yards passing and three touchdowns on a 6-of-14 effort and also rushed for 95 yards and another score. McCants had 177 rushing and receiving yards and scored four TDs for Saks on offense. Brown led Plainview with 145 rushing yard and McCullough had 103 yards and three rushing scores. The Wildcats (10-1) host Oakman (9-2) Friday in Round 2. Saks’ dramatic victory edged out another dramatic finish in Class 7A. Oak Mountain High School senior quarterback Evan Smith, returning to the lineup after a late-season injury, rushed for 241 yards on 21 carries and scored three touchdowns and also completed 12-of-17 passes for 186 yard and two more TDs. More importantly, he drove the Eagles down the field in the final minute to set up junior place-kicker Garrett Murphy’s game-winning 32-yard field goal as time expired as the fourth-seeded visitors beat Region 8 champion James Clemens in a thriller at Madison City Stadium on Nov. 4. Oak Mountain travels to defending 7A state champion Thompson Friday in the 7A quarterfinal round. The state playoffs move into round two with eight games in each of the AHSAA’s seven classes scheduled for Friday night. The AHSAA TV Network Game of the Week will be a Class 5A battle featuring Parker (10-1) of Birmingham traveling to Alexandria (11-0) to take on the Valley Cubs. The game, produced by WOTM TV, will also be the NFHS Network’s Game of the Week and will be available over TV cable stations in the AHSAA TV Network and over the NFHS Network’s subscriber-based live-streaming platform. A total of 58 games have been approved to have a live audio broadcast over local radio or internet sites. The Valley Cubs of Coach Todd Ginn beat Ardmore last week 52-6 and Parker downed Boaz 31-21. Antonio Ross led Alexandria with 130 yards rushing on offense and two interceptions on defense. Other first-round playoff highlights reported this week include: MILESTONES BRAYDEN KYLE GOES OVER 500 YARDS FOR DECATUR HERITAGE: Completed 14-of-20 passes for 353 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 154 yards and four scores on 11 carries as the Eagles beat Marion County 48-28 in the Class 1A state playoffs. He has 507 total yards and had a hand in all seven TDs for Decatur Heritage. CROSBY’S TD CLINCHES HISTORY-MAKING WIN: Kinston running back Jeb Crosby scored on a 10-yard run with 3:44 left to play to lift Kinston to a 10-6 Class 1A state playoff win over Central-Hayneville, giving the Bulldogs only their second state playoff win and first since 1987. It marked the first time 10th-ranked Kinston has hosted a state playoff game, and on the same week as the Bulldogs had ever earned state ranking in football by the ASWA. Cale Sumblin rushed for 109 yards and 94 yards passing for Kinston (8-3), which plays at Sweet Water this Friday. RUSHING BRAYLON McREYNOLDS, McGILL-TOOLEN CATHOLIC: Rushed for 292 yards on 28 carries and scored two touchdowns as the Yellow Jackets rallied for a 20-6 victory over Pelham in the opening round of the Class 6A state playoffs. MASON CARTEE, PRICEVILLE: Piled up 269 rushing yards and two touchdowns (1 and 48 yards) on 34 carries in a 31-14 Class 4A win over Etowah. PARKER WOODHAM, WOODLAND: Ran for 248 yards on 41 carries and scored three touchdowns to lead the fourth-seeded Bobcats to a 28-20 victory over Region 7 champion Cedar Bluff in the 1A playoffs. JORDAN SMITH, ARITON: Rushed for 228 yards on 18 carries and scored three touchdowns on runs of 12, 6 and 3 yards in the Purplecats’ 48-20 Class 2A playoff win over LaFayette. L.T. SANDERS, GARDENDALE: Ran 23 times for 224 yards and two touchdowns AS No. 4 seed Gardendale beat previously undefeated Hartselle 35-28 in the Class 6A playoffs. WILL STOKES, MADISON ACADEMY: Led the Mustangs to a 55-0 Class 4A playoff win over Hamilton with 216 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries. ALVIN HENDERSON, ELBA: Had 203 yards rushing and four TDs on just seven carries in a 55-28 Class 2A playoff win over Ranburne. His TD runs covered 37, 36, 80 and 44 yards. JORDAN WASHINGTON, HELENA: Gained 201 yards and four touchdowns on 24 rush attempts in a 32-29 Class 6A playoff loss to Baldwin County. LOGAN PATE, GUNTERSVILLE: Ran for 198 yards and two touchdowns (32 and 4 yards) on 30 carries in a 28-20 Class 5A playoff loss to Ramsay. TERRY DAVIS, OPP: Managed 177 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 17 carries as the Bobcats posted a 35-6 Class 3A playoff victory over Reeltown. COLLIN MOON, ONEONTA: Rushed 17 times for 167 yards and two touchdowns as Oneonta beat Rogers 40-14 in the Class 4A playoffs. SANTAE McWILLIAMS, SARALAND: Gained 164 yards on 21 carries in the Spartans’ 37-7 win over Wetumpka in the Class 6A playoffs. His 80-yard TD run gave Saraland a 14-0 first-half lead. DAMIEN RAMSEY, CHEROKEE COUNTY: Totaled 163 yards rushing on 22 carries with TD runs over 22, 3 and 8 yards in the Warriors’ 34-26 Class 4A playoff win at Straughn. MICHAEL SHARPE, PINSON VALLEY: Had 15 carries for 147 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning TD with 42 seconds remaining as the Class 6A defending state champions beat Muscle Shoals 28-21 in the first round of the state playoffs. ZACK KITTRELL, BAYSIDE ACADEMY: Rushed for 144 yards and 2 TDs and passed for 100 yards, including an 86-yard TD to Jay Loper, as the Admirals held off Southside Selma 37-36 in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs. JAMES HAMMONDS, HEWITT-TRUSSVILLE: Had 16 carries for 143 yards and two touchdowns and caught a pass for 12 yards as the Huskies beat Bob Jones 42-28 in the Class 7A playoff win over Bob Jones. JAISON TAYLOR, BIBB COUNTY: Rushed 21 times for 143 yards and two touchdowns in a 40-36 Class 4A playoff win over American Christian. RAYSHAWN WILLIAMS, GORDO: Picked up 142 yards on 15 carries and scored three touchdowns as the Greenwave beat North Jackson in the 4A playoffs 37-7. MONDREL ODELL, HOMEWOOD: Picked up 141 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 21 carries in the Patriot 42-14 Class 6A playoff win over Arab. WILL WALDROP, MOUNTAIN BROOK: Totaled 140 yards rushing and a touchdown in on 10 carries in the Spartans’ 63-0 Class 6A layoff victory over Southside-Gadsden. JOHNNY MORRIS, SPANISH FORT: Sparked the Toros to a 41-31 Class 6A playoff win over Calera with 17 carries for 129 yards, including four touchdowns on runs of 49, 1, 6 and 10 yards. JAYLEN NOBLES, SLOCOMB: Rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries and completed 7-of-11 passes for 78 yards to lead the Red Tops to a 28-16 Class 3A playoff win over Dadeville. He also had an interception defensively in the red zone to prevent a score. PASSING TYJARIAN WILLIAMS, ALICEVILLE: Was 15-of-20 passing for 296 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 29 yards and two scores on seven attempts in the Yellow Jackets' 46-6 Class 2A playoff victory win over Ider. PRESTON STOKES, CALERA: Completed 22-of-35 passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns in a Class 6A 41-31 Class 6A playoff loss to Spanish Fort. ERIC HANDLEY, FAIRFIELD: Completed 23-of-35 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns in a 30-28 Class 5A playoff loss to Fairview. SAWYER DEERMAN, AMERICAN CHRISTIAN: Completed 7-of-8 passes for 245 yards and three touchdowns in the Patriots' 41-12 win over Williamson. CHRISTOPHER VIZZINA, BRIARWOOD CHRISTIAN: Was 16-of-20 passing for 233 yards and a touchdown and had 97 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries in the Lions’ 35-12 Class 6A playoff win over Fort Payne. ANDREW HUNTER, RANDOLPH: Passed for 233 yards and three touchdowns (59, 52 and 24 yards), and ran for 63 yards and a 2-yardTD in a 38-0 Class 4A playoff win over Fayette County. TANNER BAILEY, GORDO: Passed for 230 yards and two touchdowns with 13-of-117 passes completed as Gordo downed North Jackson 37-7 in the 4A playoffs. JOHN MICHAEL DOWNS, BIBB COUNTY: Passed for 204 yards and two touchdowns on an 11-of-19 performance to lead the Choctaws past Mobile Christian 40-36 in the 4A playoffs. CHAPEL POPE, SPRING GARDEN: Was 12-of-15 passing for 203 yards and three touchdowns and rushed 12 times for 98 yards and three more TDs to lead the Panthers to a 55-20 Class 2A playoff win over Hatton. BRODY SMITH, SYLVANIA: Competed 13-for-30 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns (62 and 55 yards) in the Rams’ 40-20 Class 3A loss to Piedmont. EARL WOODS, HUEYTOWN: Completed 7-for-19 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns and ran 22 times for 125 yards and a score foe 305 total yards as the Gophers (10-1) beat Eufaula 50-13 in the 6A playoffs TAMETRIUS POGUE, THEODORE: Finished 19-of-26 passing for 181 yards and three TDs and ran for the game-winning score in the Bobcats’ 30-26 Class 7A come-from-behind win over Prattville. ZACH SIMS, THOMPSON: The Warriors’ quarterback was 9-of-10 passing in his first start of the season in place of injured starter Conner Harrell to lead Thompson to a 49-10 Class 7A first-round playoff win over Florence. His finished with 176 yards and two TDs, the first coming early in the first quarter with a 55-yard hook up with receiver Justin Pegues. KAMERON KEENAN, RAMSAY: Completed 17-of-24 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown in the Rams’ 28-20 Class 5A playoff win over Guntersville. GRAY JENNINGS, OPP: Was 13-of-23 passing for 172 yards and one touchdown and rushed for 57 yards and another TD in a 35-6 Class 3A playoff win over Reeltown. ALEX YOUNG, PLEASANT GROVE: Was 5-of-5 passing for 170 yards and a touchdown and ran three times for 50 yards and a score in the Spartans’ 55-0 Class 5A playoff win over Douglas. ANTHONY JOHNSON, MIDFIELD: Had a hand in all five touchdowns for the Patriots in a 34-20 Class 2A win over North Sand Mountain. He was 8-of-13 passing for 101 yards and three touchdowns and rushed nine times for 11 yards and another score. He also had four tackles on defense and returned a fumble 55 yards for a TD for his fifth scoring play. JACK HAYES, PIEDMONT: Passed for 146 yards and two touchdowns on an 11-of-19 performance and rushed 16 times for 92 yards and two more scores as the Bulldogs downed Sylvania 40-20 in the Class 3A playoffs. ETHAN CRAWFORD, HILLCFREST-TUSCALOOSA: Was 8-of-9 passing for 120 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 93 yards on eight carries as the Patriots advanced in the 6A playoffs with a 56-6 win over Carver-Montgomery. PASS RECEIVING TYQUAN SIMON, ALICEVILLE: Caught four passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns in the Jackets’ 46-6 win over Ider in the 2A playoffs. CHANCE HENDERSON, AMERICAN CHRISTIAN: Collected four pass receptions for 152 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-12 Class 4A playoff win over Williamson. COOPER AUSTIN, SPRING GARDEN: Collected seven pass receptions for 144 yards with touchdown catches covering 63 and 22 yards in the Panthers’ 55-20 Class 2A playoff win over Hatton. MARQUARIUS WHITE, CLAY-CHALKVILLE: Caught four passes for 134 yards, including a 64-yard scoring reception on the Cougars’ first play from scrimmage, to lead unbeaten Clay-Chalkville (11-0) to a 42-0 Class 6A victory over Decatur. CONNOR CASH, FORT PAYNE: Grabbed eight pass receptions for 128 yards in a 35-12 Class 6A playoff loss to Briarwood Christian. SAWYER HUGHES, SYLVANIA: Had 114 yards receiving, including a 55-yard touchdown, in the Rams’ 40-20 Class 3A loss to Piedmont. R.J. HAMILTON, HOOVER: Caught five passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns in the Bucs’ 56-14 Class 7A playoff win over Sparkman. CHRISTOPHER NEEL, GORDO: Pulled down six pass receptions for 111 yards and one TD in a 37-7 win over North Jackson in the 4A playoffs. KADE BROWNING, CEDAR BLUFGF: Caught three passes for 101 yards, including a 57-yard score, in the Tigers’ 28-20 Class 1A loss to Woodland. BRENNAN MAYE-JORDAN, VIGOR: Grabbed five pass receptions for 97 yards and two TDs as the Wolves beat West Blocton 40-0 in the 5A playoffs. KNUTE WOOD, BROOKS: Caught three TD passes in a 41-21 Class 4A playoff win over Dora as Brooks improved to 11-0 on the year. DEFENSE LUKE HODGE, ONEONTA: Had 14 tackles on defense and two TD receptions on offense as Oneonta (10-1) beat Rogers 40-14 in the Class 4A playoffs. TRE’QUON FEGANS, THOMPSON: Led the Warriors’ defense with his third interception of the year and 13th of his career as Thompson beat Florence 49-10 in the Class 7A playoffs. TERRELL GILBERT, ARITON: Intercepted two passes and had eight tackles on defense in Ariton’s 48-20 Class 2A playoff win over LaFayette. JACOB BURLESON, CEDAR BLUFF: Made two interceptions on defense and also passed for 171 yards two touchdowns (75 and 57 yards in a 28-20 Class 1A playoff loss to Woodland. JACOB GORDON, GAYLESVILLE: Totaled nine tackles in the Trojans’ 48-14 loss to Wadley in the 1A playoffs. SPECIAL TEAMS TY MIMS, BALDWIN COUNTY: Returned a punt for a touchdown and ran for two more scores in the second half to power the fourth-seeded Tigers to a 32-29 Class 6A playoff win over Helena. He 12-of-20 passing for 171 yards and had 29 rushing attempts for 172 yards and two touchdowns. AUSTIN ESTES, PIEDMONT: Scored four touchdowns, including one on a 53-yard punt return, in a 40-20 Class 3A playoff victory over Sylvania. He had 81 yards receiving with two touchdowns (42 and 25 yards) and added a 21-yard score on the ground in the Bulldogs’ 40-20 win at Sylvania. LARRY ROGERS, SPRING GARDEN: Returned a kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown and caught five passes for 59 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown reception, in the Panthers’ 55-20 Class 2A playoff victory over Hatton. ASAEL MORIN, SLOCOMB: Kicked field goals of 44 and 40 yards in the Red Tops’ 28-16 Class 3A playoff victory over Dadeville. CHRISTOPHER BRACY, ST. PAUL’S EPISCOPAL: Blocked a punt and fell on it in the end zone for a touchdown and had a 1-yard touchdown run for the Saints in a 36-0 Class 5A playoff win over Selma.
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