by David Holtsford for the AHSAA
MONTGOMERY – Clay-Chalkville senior Jaylen Mbakwe is listed as an “athlete” on most observers’ lineups mainly because he is capable of doing just about anything with a football. What he does best is “win,” however. That trait was seen by a nationwide audience as he delivered the unbeaten Cougars to a 36-33 win over four-time defending Class 7A state champion Thompson High School last week. Mbakwe accounted for 268 yards total offense and all five Clay-Chalkville touchdowns to grab this week’s AHSAA Week 5 Football Spotlight.” The Cougars (6-0) of Coach Drew Gilmer remained unbeaten in a game televised live over ESPN2 last week. While Mbakwe may have stolen the show with his athleticism, behemoth offensive tackle Jac’Qwan McRoy displayed his agility and grace. The 6-foot-9, 375-pound offensive tackle made a big impression on national television by scoring a key two-point conversion on a trick play by dropping in the backfield and catching a toss from Mkakwe to give the Cougars a 29-26 lead late in the fourth quarter. One play earlier, he helped blow a gap through the Thompson defense for Mbakwe to run through on the touchdown run and then he greeted his quarterback by lifting the 6-foot-1, 170-pound senior well above his head in celebration. Mbakwe finished the game 10-of-13 passing for 100 yards and rushing 27 times for 168 yards – and celebrated his 18th birthday to boot. Thompson freshman quarterback Trent Seaborn was 14-of-25 passing for 268 yards with long-range TD passes covering 64 and 79 yards to Kolby Hearn in the Warriors’ loss, which snapped the defending Class 7A state champions’ current win streak at eight in a row. The 79-yard TD came in the final minute of the game with Thompson (4-1) trailing 36-27 to cut the Cougars’ lead to three. A successful onside kick kept the Warriors’ hopes alive. Seaborn drove his team down to the red zone but Thompson’s field goal attempt on to tie the game sailed just wide as Clay (6-0) held on to win. Clay-Chalkville has this week off, and the Warriors of Coach Mark Freeman travel to Hewitt-Trussville for a key 7A, Region 3 battle. Mbakwe’s performance edged out top-notch performances by three other quarterbacks for the AHSAA Spotlight this week – Brandon Musch of Class 4A Westminster Christian, Cale Tittle of Class 1A Lynn, and Eric Handley of Class 5A Pleasant Grove. Musch completed 17-of-26 passes for 268 yards and four touchdowns with one interception, Ran for 243 yards and four TDs on 17 carries – totaling 511 yards eight scores as the Wildcats beat Central-Florence 71-54. The 125 total points by both teams still came up shy of last year’s 139 points in a 70-69 victory by Central. The 139-point output tied for the second all-time in the AHSAA with Parrish and Hubbertville (81-59 in 2003) behind Childersburg’s 82-64 victory over Central Coosa (146 points) in 2016. Last week’s total tied for 15th overall with South Lamar’s 79-46 victory over Phillips of Bear Creek in 2008, and Langdale’s 125-0 win over Milltown in 1925. Musch’s 511 total yards was the third game he has gone over 500 yards – which ranks second only to Christopher Thomas, who had four games over 500 yards in 2022. Thomas, who holds the state record 698 total yards in a 40-16 win over Selma, is the only player in AHSAA history to go over 600 yards more than once. He did it three times in his career, however. The eight touchdowns accounted of also notched a spot in the AHSAA Record Book tying with 26 others before him with eight in a game – which ties for third. Musch accounted for nine TDs in s game twice in 2022 and had two other games with eight TDs accounted for – versus DAR in 2019 and versus North Jackson earlier this season. Last week’s game gives him four spots in the Top 12 all-time. The state record (11) was established by Brayden Kyle of Decatur Heritage in 2021. Tittle, a senior quarterback, fell just 18 yards shy of the 500-yard mark accounting for 482 yards in a 49-14 win over Class 3A Tarrant last week. He was 11-of-18 passing for 313 yards with four touchdowns covering 36, 24, 63, and 39 yards. He also rushed for 169 yards and three TDs on 21 carries. Handley completed 23-of-34 passes for 405 yards and two touchdowns for the Class 5A Spartans (4-1) in a nail-biting 22-21 win over previously undefeated Parker (5-1). Other milestone efforts included:
MARS HILL FANS RESPOND TO WITH KINDNESS Mars Hill Bible senior quarterback Griffin Hanson directed an amazing come-from-behind 27-24 victory over visiting Class 5A Russellville (5-1) as Class 3A Mars Hill Bible (6-0) won the battle of unbeatens before a standing-room-only crowd. However, it was an act of kindness by the Mars Hill fans and students that gave visiting Russellville High School its own “special victory.” Mars Hill Bible’s fans in attendance took the time to reach out to the Russellville community and more specifically the family of Jase Fretwell, a fifth grader from Russellville, and his mother Jen. Both were killed in a car accident Wednesday, September 28. Mars Hill fans “passed the white bucket” in the stadium with proceeds going to a GoFundMe account set up by Russellville to help cover funeral costs for the family. “Our team may not have come away with win tonight, but in my book, tonight was a win for humanity,” Russellville Schools Superintendent Dr. Heath Grimes expressed on a Facebook message after the game. He especially thanked his mentor Dexter Rutherford, the Mars Hill School president and principal, who asked Grimes in advance if they could help. Grimes added, “Thank you, Mars Hill community, from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of our students, teachers, and the dear families who are grieving. You brought a shred of light into the darkness tonight, and we are so very grateful.” With his team trailing the visiting Golden Tigers by 11 points in the fourth quarter, Hanson fired two touchdown passes in the final 12 minutes with the winning 48-yard TD strike grabbed by Tanner Caudle in the final minutes of the game. He finished 7-of-11 passing for 206 yards and three touchdowns and also had a 68-yard TD run in the first half – ending the night with 86 rushing yards on 10 carries. The final TD of the night was the 105th score he has accounted for in his career – pushing him past previous school record holder Payton Higgins (102). Caudle had 13 tackles on defense and teammate Cam Isbell had a team-high 17. Other top performances reported include:
RUSHING ALVIN HENDERSON, ELBA: Rushed for 288 yards rushing and three scores on 16 carries, including a 96-yard touchdown run, returned a kickoff 62 yards for a touchdown and threw a 27-yard touchdown pass in the Tigers’ 57-20 win over Providence Christian. AARON MAY, WASHINGTON COUNTY: Ran for 244 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries in a 40-13 win over Fruitdale.
COLE GAMBLE, MOUNTAIN BROOK: The Mountain Brook senior proved to be the Spartans’ workhorse once again with 38 rush attempts for 239 yards and four touchdowns as the Mountain Brook, coached by Chris Yeager, beat Hoover 34-24 for the first time since 201l for just the third time since 2000 – which includes one forfeit win. The Bucs hold a 35-9 edge in the all-time series, which dates back to 1967. TERRELL TOWNSEND. REHOBETH: Teamed with Brayden Hardy to rush for 349 yards and five touchdowns as the Class 5A Rebel downed Opp 39-20. Townsend had 233 rushing yards and three touchdowns on runs of 27, 7 and 73 yards. Hardy had 116 yards rushing and TD runs of 19 and 34 yards. KEN CHERRY, MADISON ACADEMY: Gained 221 yards rushing and three touchdowns and returned a kickoff 70 yards for a TD in a 63-7 win over Madison County. JAYDEN GILBERT, CLEMENTS: Had a 219-yard rushing performance and three touchdowns and also passed for 100 yards on a 6-of-16 effort and another score in the Colts’ 63-6 win over DAR. JACOBI EDMONDSON, SCOTTSBORO: The sophomore fullback piled up 216 yards rushing on 20 carries and scored three touchdowns as the Wildcats (5-0) remained unbeaten with a 56-21 victory over Priceville. He now has 712 yards rushing this season with eight touchdowns. MASON STUART, ZION CHAPEL: Accounted for five touchdowns and 232 yards in the Rebels’ 39-6 win over Pleasant Home. Stuart rushed for 137 yards and four touchdowns on just nine carries and was 8-of-11 passing for 95 yards and another score. He also kicked three extra points. ANTHONY FRASIER, ST. PAUL’S EPISCOPAL: Rushed 20 times for 205 yards and scored on a 55-yard touchdown run as the Saints beat Faith Academy 40-7. MASON TEAGUE, SOUTHSIDE: Rushed for 204 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries in the Panthers’ 48-45 overtime win over Boaz. It was the fifth time this season that Teague topped the 200-yard rushing mark. He currently has 1,207 rushing yards on the season. JACKSON WILLINGHAM, AMERICAN CHRISTIAN: Turned in a workhorse effort with 36 rush attempts for 202 yards and two touchdowns as the Patriots beat Class 6A Northridge 44-36. BRAXTON CLARK, THEODORE: Led the Bobcats to a 16-10 victory over Class 7A Opelika with 191 rushing yards on 29 carries. He had six straight rush attempts on Theodore’s game-winning drive. ZAYLON McMILLIAN, EXCEL: Led Excel to a 35-12 victory over Monroe County rival J.U. Blacksher with 178 yards rushing on 15 carries and scored four touchdowns. WYATT PRADO, LEXINGTON: Gained 177 yards on just seven rush attempts and scored two TDs covering 71 and 44 yards as the Bears fell to Lauderdale County 41-20. He also had a 43-yard non-scoring run. JAMARION OSBORNE, CHICKASAW: Rushed for 174 yards and two TDs on 14 carries, caught an 86-yard TD pass 32-22 victory over McIntosh. ROCK SAINSBURY, WEST END: Finished with 172 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the Patriots’ 27-13 win over Sand Rock. JACOB CORNEJO, CHEROKEE COUNTY: Ran for 170 yards and two touchdowns (23 and 9 yards) on 15 carries and posted six tackles on defense in the Warriors’ 56-10 win at Munford. QUINTAVIOUS ROGERS, COLLINVILLE: Gained 164 yards rushing and four first-quarter touchdowns on just seven carries in the Panthers’ homecoming 47-0 win over Gaston. He also had an interception on defense. JAY LOWE, SULLIGENT: Went over the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season with 163 yards and five touchdowns on 19 carries as the Blue Devils (6-0) beat South Lanar 41-12. MICAH CHRSTENSEN, LAUDERDALE COUNTY: Totaled 160 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 21 carries to lead the Tigers (6-0) to a 41-20 triumph over arch-rival Lexington. Teammate Braxton Rose added 140 yards on 22 rush attempts as Lauderdale County finished with 378 team rushing yards. Z.J. DALE, LEEDS: Ran 16 times for 160 yards and two touchdowns as the Green Wave (4-1) downed Sylacauga 48-14. DARRIEON TAYLOR, MAE JEMISON: Picked 152 yards rushing in the first half and finished with 192 yards rushing on 27 carries in a 53-25 loss to Huntsville. He scored two TDs. AUSTIN MANN, GLENCOE: Had 16 carries for 152 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the Yellow Jackets’ 49-18 victory over Holly Pond. MARLON JONES, HUNTSVILLE: Ran for 146 yards and two TDs in a 53-25 win over Mae Jemison. CONNOR BATES, SPRING GARDEN: Had 119 yards rushing on 16 carries and teammate Chapel Pope had 105 yards on 18 rush attempts om the Panthers’ 7-6 loss to Cedar Bluff. Pope scored Spring Garden’s only touchdown on a 5-yard run midway through the third period. PASSING MICHAEL MOORE, GENEVA: Accounted for 466 yards and two touchdowns in Geneva’s 49-8 win over Geneva County. He completed 19-of-23 passes for 352 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 114 yards on 13 carries. IAN SENN, ARITON: Rolled up 384 total yards and three scores on offense and eight tackles and an interception on defense in the Purple Cats’ 34-21 win over Straughn. Senn was 20-of-25 passing doe 310 yards and two scores. He rushed for 74 yards on 17 carries and one TD. BRYSON HUGHES, G.W. LONG: Totaled 355 yards and six touchdowns in the Rebels’ 62-25 win over Dale County. He rushed for 214 yards and three touchdowns (80, 30 and 34 yards) on 17 carries and was 9-of-16 passing 141 yards (48, 64 and 17 yards). DAMIEN GATSON, MOBILE CHRISTIAN: Was 12-of-20 passing for 295 yards and three TDs in a 39-7 win over Orange Beach. He hurled a 77-yard TD strike to Aaron Rogers and a 70-yarder strike to Carson Cooper. GUNNER RIVERS, ST. MICHAEL CATHOLIC: The freshman quarterback finished 24-of-39 passing for 278 yards and three touchdowns as the Cardinals lost a close 35-31 decision to McGill-Toolen Catholic. It was just the second game between the two schools. JACKS McCLUNG, HUNTSVILLE: Led the Crimson Panthers to 21 unanswered points in the second half to break a close game wide open with a 13-of-21 passing performance for 239 yards and four TDs in the 53-25 win over Mae Jemison. AADEN SHAMBURGER, SPANISH FORT: The Toros quarterback passed for 244 yards and three touchdowns to rally his team from a 27-7 deficit to beat Class 7A Daphne 35-27. He finished the night 20-of-25. MASON HOLCOMB, PISGAH: Was 11-of-21 passing for 239 yards and four touchdowns, threw a 2-point pass, and had an interception on defense in a 40-34 win over Sylvania.
JAKE RICKMAN, FAYETTE COUNTY: Connected on 15-of-20 passes attempted for 235 yards and four touchdowns in a 55-28 victory over Marion County. K.J. LACEY, SARALAND: Completed 14-of-18 passes for 223 and two touchdowns to lead the top-ranked and defending Class 6A state champion Spartans to a 70-20 win over Foley. He also rushed for one score. THOMPSON McNEES, TRINITY PRESBYTERIAN: Completed 10-of-11 passes for 221 yards in a back-up role, and starting quarterback Walker McClinton was 7-of-8 for 105 yards as Trinity (6-0) beat Marbury 41-14. The two QBs combined to finish 17-of-19 for 326 yards and three TDs in the win. ELI MORRISON, GUNTERSVILLE: Threw for 220 yards and three touchdowns on a 12-of-17 passing effort as the Tigers downed Class 6A Buckhorn 38-7. He also ran for a fourth TD.
PARKER ADAMS, CHARLES HENDERSON: Completed 18-of-25 passes for 216 yards and teammate Zack Coleman rushed 15 times for 105 yards and four TDs as the Class 5A Trojans downed defending Class 3A champion Saint James 36-13. BRADY KITCHENS, GLENCOE: Completed 10-of-14 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns in the Yellow Jackets’ 49-18 victory over Holly Pond. JORDAN BRYAN, SOUTHSIDE: Was 9-of-12 in passing for 209 yards and three scores in the Panthers’ 48-45 overtime win over Boaz. ANDREW MURCHISON, McGILL-TOOLEN CATHOLIC: Completed 9-for-13 passes for 194 yards and three touchdowns as the Yellow Jackets held off St. Michael Catholic 35-31.
BRADY HARRISON, ELBERTA: Was 8-of-14 passing for 189 yards and rushed for four touchdowns in a 43-26 victory over Northview (FL). DEON MOORE, CENTER POINT: Passed for four touchdowns and 181 yards on a 9-of-12 performance and added for 61 rushing yards and fifth TD on seven carries in the Eagles’ 42-20 victory over Fairfield. CAYDEN McMICHAEL, SOUTHSIDE: Caught seven passes for 174 yards in the Panthers’ 48-45 overtime win over Boaz MASON McATEER, COLLINSVILLE: Completed 6-of-8 pass attempts for 165 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Panthers’ 47-0 victory over Gaston. JADEN BURROUGHS, MAE JEMISON: Was 11-of-17 passing for 163 yards and a 75-yard TD strike to Zamarion Mitchell in a 53-25 loss to Huntsville. KEILAND BAKER, HOLTVILLE: Fired the game-winning touchdown pass with 13 seconds remaining to lead the Bulldogs to a 32-27 win over West Blocton. He finished the night with 162 passing yards. GAVIN DOSS, ANNISTON: The senior quarterback, who committed to the Naval Academy early last week, was 12-of-14 passing for 117 yards and the game-winning touchdown as the Bulldog (4-2) beat Piedmont (1-4) in the AHSAA TV Network/WOTM Game of the Week 14-9. His TD pass to T.K. Downie with 19 seconds left in the third period gave Anniston a 14-3 lead. He also rushed for 64 critical yards in the hard-fought defensive struggle. COLE WILSON, PIEDMONT: Was 7-of-13 passing for 172 yards and a 36-yard TD to McClane Mohon in the fourth period in the Bulldogs’ loss 14-9 to Anniston. NOAH LEE, HARTSELLE: In his first career start, Lee fired a 41-yard touchdown pass, scored on an 8-yard run and scored the winning 2-point conversion as the Tigers nipped Oxford 22-21. CARSON TITTLE, CHEROKEE COUNTY: Accounted for four Warrior touchdowns (2 passing and 2 rushing) in Cherokee County’s 56-10 win at Munford . He 2-of-2 passing for 49 yards and two scores (19 and 30 yards) and ran four times producing two more touchdowns with TD runs covering 11 and 14 yards.
PASS RECEIVING GAVIN LANG, COLLINSVILLE: Snagged five receptions passes for 154 yards, including a 93-yard touchdown in the second quarter, in the Panthers’ 47-0 homecoming victory over Gaston. XAVIER BOSWELL, TRINITY PRESBYTERIAN: Hauled in six passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns to help the Wildcats get past Marbury 41-14. JAKAI HUDGINS, BOAZ: Caught six passes for 144 yards, including TD receptions covering 28, 25 and 7 yards from quarterback Tyler Pierce, in the Pirates’ 48-45 overtime loss to Southside.
TRE’MEL WASHINGTON, RAMSAY: Caught eight passes for 135 yards and a touchdown in the defending Class 5A state champion Rams’ 13-7 loss to Class 7A Auburn.
D.J. VINSON, MONTGOMERY ACADEMY: Caught six passes for 12 yards and a 39-yard TD pass in the Eagles’ 28-20 loss to Alabama Christian. ZAMERION MITCHELL, MAE JEMISON: Snagged a 75-yard TD pass and finished with three receptions for 115 yards in the Jaguars’ 53-25 loss to Huntsville. CONNER MONTGOMERY, GLENCOE: Snagged four pass four receptions for 100 yards and two touchdowns in the Yellow Jackets’ 49-18 victory over Holly Pond. BLAINE BURKE, MOODY: Caught three touchdown passes – including a 75-yard reception – helping the Blue Devils beat Shelby County 49-6. MILES TYLER, ARITON: Had nine catches for 92 yards and a touchdown in the Purple Cats’ 34-21 win over Straughn. HUNTER HALE, HELENA: Returned punt for one TD and caught seven passes for 78 yards and three scores as the Class 6A Huskies beat Jackson-Olin 49-6. DEFENSE FLUFF BOTHWELL, ONEONTA: The senior standout running back turned in a 21-tackle effort on defense to spark the Redskins to a 28-21 victory over Springville. He has his usual outstanding performance on offense as well with 141 yards rushing on 28 carries with three touchdowns. Teammate Malik Montgomery added 12 tackles in the win and also had five pass receptions offensively for 71yards highlighted by a 37-yard touchdown. TYLER McLENDON, GOSHEN: Intercepted a Kinston pass at the 1-yard line and raced 99 yards for a touchdown to highlight Goshen’s 41-7 victory over the Bulldogs. Jamauri McLure ran for two 58-yard touchdowns on his only two carries of the night, and Eagles teammate Szemerick Andrews tacked on 78-yard touchdown run. COLBY BALLARD, OPP: Earned a season-high 16 tackles in the Bobcats’ 39-20 loss to Rehobeth. He also threw for two touchdowns and ran for another on offense.
CARSON WEBB, CEDAR BLUFF: Led the Tigers’ defense with 16 tackles, including one for loss, in Cedar Bluff’s 7-6 win at Spring Garden on Friday. The victory ended the Tigers’ three-year skid against the Panthers. scoring. CAYDEN ATKINS, ELBA: Totaled 15 tackles with six for losses, in the unbeaten Class 1A Tigers’ 57-20 win. He and teammate Brayden Johnson combined to record a safety in the win. LANDON CHANDLER, GOSHEN: Led the Eagles’ defense with 15 tackles as the Eagles downed Kinston 41-7. PRESTON STEVENS, DALE COUNTY: Managed 15 tackles in the Warriors’ 62-25 loss to G.W. Long.
TREVOR JOHNSTON, ARITON: Led Ariton’s defense with 14 tackles, including four for losses, as the Class 2A Purplecats beat previously undefeated Straughn 34-21. WILL HATTON, SLOCOMB: Led the Red Tops’ defense with 12 tackles in a 14-12 loss to Ashford. LUKE STRENGTH, HOLTVILLE: Managed 12 tackles and a sack as Holtville beat West Blocton 32-27. JOHN DAVID MASON, LAUDERDALE COUNTY: Led the Tigers’ defense with 10 tackles in a 41-20 win over Lexington. AIDEN McKINLEY, PERCY JULIAN: Returned a fumble 83 yards for a touchdown for the game-sealing TD as the Phoenix beat Carver-Montgomery 26-14. The fumble return was one of seven Carver turnovers forced by the Percy Julian defense. JACE BOYD, CORNER: Intercepted two passes and had five tackles in a 20-7 victory over East Limestone. JORDAN THOMAS, HOUSTON COUNTY: Had two interceptions, three tackles and three pass break-ups in the Lions’ 14-8 win over Graceville (FL). DRUW SMITH, SCOTTSBORO: Managed nine tackles and blocked a punt which was returned for a TD as the Wildcats beat Priceville 56-21. NOAH BARBER, SPRING GARDEN: Led the Panther’ defense with 10 tackles in a
7-6 loss to Cedar Bluff. Teammate Grey Simpson added two sacks and finished with six tackles in the defensive battle. BRADEN JOHNSON, GULF SHORES: Returned an intercepted pass 50 yards for TD as Gulf Shores beat Murphy 37-14. TRISTAN BROWN, CHROKEE COUNTY: Posted nine tackles and recovered a fumble for a 39-yard touchdown in the second quarter of the Warriors’ 56-10 win at Munford.
CALEB EDMONDSON, CEDAR BLUFF: Totaled six tackles and an interception on defense and caught three passes for 50 yards on offense As Cedar Bluff nipped Spring Garden 7-6. J.D. WINTER, WEST LIMESTONE: Picked off a pass and recovered a fumble in a 20-7 win over East Limestone. BRYANT HANBACK, CENTRAL-FLORENCE: Scored five touchdowns three different ways in a 71-54 loss to Westminster Christian. He scored on a 45-yard fumble return, caught a 29-yard TD pass, and rushed for three TDs on runs of 70, 3 and 3 yards. SPECIAL TEAMS JAC’QWAN McROY, CLAY-CHALKVILLE: The 6-foot-9, 375-pound offensive tackle made a big impression on national television by scoring a key two-point conversion on a trick play by dropping in the backfield and catching a toss from QB Jaylen Mkakwe to give the Cougars a 36-26 lead late in the fourth quarter as the Class 6A Cougars (6-0) beat Class 7A Thompson 36-33. ESPN televised the game nationally over its network. CARTER DILLINGHAM, CEDAR BLUFF: Dillingham kicked the game-winning extra point following quarterback Kaden Pack’s game-tying touchdown run tied the game with Spring Garden at 6-6 with 33 seconds remaining as the Tigers won 7-6. Pack was also 9-of-17 passing for 90 yards and had 11 tackles on defense in the hard-fought win. Teammate Logan Hampton blocked Spring Garden’s extra-point try midway through the third quarter which gave the Panthers a 6-0 lead – setting up Dillingham’s opportunity to kick his lone extra point attempt through the uprights for the win. KYLE WRIGHT, SCOTTSBORO: The senior returned a punt 37 yards for a touchdown in the Wildcats’ 56-21 win over Priceville. RONNIE ROYAL, GULF SHORES: Returned a punt 32 yards for a TD as Gulf Shores (6-0) beat Murphy 37-14. COLE RAEUCHLE, SCOTTSBORO: Extended his consecutive PAT kicks to 42 in a row with a 7-of-7 performance in the Wildcats’ 56-21 win over Priceville. He is 33-of-33 for the season and is 62-of-68 for his high school career. JAXON POTTER, AUSTIN: Returned a punt 42 yards for TD and caught a 37-yard touchdown pass in the Black Bears’ 38-7 victory over Gardendale.