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By Stan J. Griffin: December 7, 2015

Photos by Stan J. Griffin

Heading into this past Friday's Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 4A state championship game, Fayette County High School head coach Lance Tucker noted that he felt his team was a group of winners, whether it was able to collect the blue state title trophy at the Super 7 or the red trophy designating runner-up status.
And entering the title tilt against defending champion Leeds at Bryant-Denny Stadium, the Tigers certainly appeared to have peaked at just the right time, with a 4-0 playoff run that included a convincing 32-0 victory on the road against Class 4A Region 5 champ Cordova in the semifinal round.
Unfortunately for Tucker's team, a slow start, and a prolific performance by senior Greenwave tailback Trey Nation was too much to overcome as Leeds rolled to the 55-7 win and another state title for Keith Etheridge's squad.
Fayette County finished a superb season at 10-5 while the victorious Leeds team finished 13-2.
Nation, the game's Most Valuable Player, carried the ball 27 times for 186 yards, while also breaking Class 4A championship game records with five rushing touchdowns and 30 total points.
He led a Leeds attack which tallied 23 first downs and amassed 463 total offensive yards, while the swarming Greenwave defense held the Tigers to 155 total yards.
In the end, after first expressing pride in his own team for its postseason march to Bryant-Denny Stadium, the place where he once suited up in crimson and white as a University of Alabama quarterback, and praising the heart and grit of Tigers such as senior quarterback Drew Guy among others, Tucker was effusive in his praise for the Greenwave juggernaut.

Courtesy of Crimson Magazine

By Stan J. Griffin: December 6, 2015

The No. 2 Alabama football team, which claimed its second-straight Southeastern Conference title on Saturday by defeating Florida, now has a matchup set with the Big 10 champions.
On Sunday morning, it was announced that the Top 4 teams in the final College Football Playoff poll were Clemson, Alabama, Michigan State and Oklahoma.
This means that Nick Saban's 12-1 Crimson Tide team will face Mark Dantonio's 12-1 Michigan State Spartans, which gained the Big 10 title Saturday with a pulsating 16-13 win over Iowa in the Big 10 Championship Game.
"We know what kind of physical, tough teams they have at Michigan State, and it will be a real challenge for our team,” said Saban on the matchup with the Spartans
Alabama and Michigan State will face each other on Dec. 31 at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium while Clemson and Oklahoma will face off on that same date in the Capital One Orange Bowl.
“We now have the full body of work to evaluate all of the teams,” said selection chairman Jeff Long in a press release.  “The committee viewed Clemson and Alabama as clear-cut.  We had a lengthy discussion about Michigan State and Oklahoma.  The committee saw those two teams as very closely matched.  They are both conference champions and both 4-0 against top 25 teams.  Ultimately Michigan State’s two wins against top ten teams gave them the edge.”
"Well, it's certainly a privilege for us to be in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl and stay in the College Playoff," said Saban. "I'm really proud of our team. We lost early in the season and responded well and improved throughout the season. I know our players are excited about the opportunity that they have to play a very, very good Michigan State team that has had good wins this year over Michigan, Ohio State, Oregon, Iowa. Really, really -- Mark has done a fabulous job. And I got to see that 22-play drive last night, and it was pretty awesome. I was rooting for the Spartans after being there for 10 years myself and rooting for my former assistant Mark. And glad they came out on top. And certainly going to be a huge challenge for us to play against a great quarterback like Connor Cook, and we're certainly looking forward to coming to Cotton Bowl."

Courtesy of DCM Fan Zone

By Erik Stinnett

He's been called a machine. As he powered his way into the history books last Saturday at Auburn, Derrick Henry looked every bit of that description.

Prior to last Saturday, only two running backs in the SEC have ever rushed for 200-plus yards four times in one season. Two guys you might be familiar with. Herschel Walker. And Bo Jackson. Well, now there's three. Add Henry to that super short list.
 
And the way Henry accomplished that feat Saturday was just as impressive.

By Stan J. Griffin: December 1, 2015:

Photos by Ron Harris of Daily Mountain Eagle (Jasper)

Back in late October, in their final regular-season football game of the 2015 season, Lance Tucker's Fayette County High School Tigers dropped a 20-18 decision to Class 4A Region 5 rival Cordova, costing them an opportunity to claim the region crown.
Little did the Tigers know at that time that they would get a rematch with the Blue Devils, with even higher stakes coming into play.
That was indeed the scenario which materialized at Cordova High School last Friday night as the 13-0 host Blue Devils hosted the 9-4 Tigers in the Class 4A semifinals, with a shot at the Super 7 state championships at Bryant-Denny Stadium on the line.
And although the matchup was identical to that Oct. 23 showdown between Cordova and Fayette County, it proved to be the only similarity as Tucker's squad improved to 10-4 on the season, romping past the Blue Devils 32-0 to earn its rightful appearance at the University of Alabama's tradition-rich football cathedral and a shot at the Class 4A state title.
It will not be easy for Drew Guy, Kondarius Wilson, Mario Wilson, Kerieq Sparks and company, however, as they face another formidable task in Friday's 11 a.m. title tilt.
The Tigers will battle Keith Etheridge's 12-2 Leeds Greenwave, the defending state champions.

Leeds enters the title game coming off a 48-20 semifinal win over Munford.
Fayette will make its first appearance in the state finals since 2012.
Against No. 2 Cordova, the Tigers dominated early and often against the home team, leading 6-0 after the first quarter, and seeing that advantage balloon to 20-0 by halftime.

Courtesy of Crimson Magazine

After a big win against the 23rd ranked Wichita State Shockers on Friday, the Tide will be looking at what is likely an even bigger task this evening against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish that won 32 games last year.

Gone from that team are a 1st and 2nd round draft pick in the NBA draft, but senior big man Zach Auguste and junior guards Demetrius Jackson are leading the way for a Fighting Irish squad that expects to be a force again this year.

The 2015-16 edition of the Crimson Tide has shown the consistent ability to play scrappy, but they will need to find a way to compete on the boards and shoot the ball well to make a resounding statement by upsetting another out of conference top 25 team after doing it for the first time since 2009 on Friday.

 

NOTRE DAME:

Player GP MIN PPG RPG APG SPG BPG TPG FG% FT% 3P%
Demetrius Jackson 5 34.0 18.8 3.8 4.2 0.8 0.2 1.4 .569 .667 .364
V.J. Beachem 5 33.2 12.4 6.4 1.4 0.8 0.2 0.8 .434 .200 .429
Steve Vasturia 5 33.0 11.6 3.6 2.0 0.8 0.0 2.2 .457 .643 .318
Zach Auguste 5 27.0 13.4 10.8 2.6 1.2 1.0 2.6 .549 .611 .000
Bonzie Colson 5 23.6 9.4 7.4 1.2 0.8 1.0 0.6 .469 .750 .333
Matt Farrell 5 17.0 2.0 1.6 1.2 0.0 0.0 0.8 .231 1.000 .222
Matt Ryan 5 17.0 6.2 1.6 1.0 0.4 0.0 0.2 .417 .750 .364
Rex Pflueger 3 6.3 2.0 1.0 0.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 .400 .000 .667
Martinas Geben 3 6.0 2.0 1.3 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.3 .000 1.000 .000
Austin Burgett 3 5.3 3.0 1.3 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.0 .400 1.000 .333
Austin Torres 4 5.3 0.5 1.3 0.3 1.0 0.8 0.5 .000 1.000 .000
Matt Gregory 2 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 .000 .000 .000
Totals 5 -- 78 41 14 6 3 9 .467 .699 .366

 

ALABAMA:

Player GP MIN PPG RPG APG SPG BPG TPG FG% FT% 3P%
Dazon Ingram 5 27.4 9.0 7.0 3.4 1.6 0.4 3.4 .531 .611 .000
Shannon Hale 5 26.8 12.6 3.0 0.4 0.2 0.4 3.4 .420 .750 .450
Retin Obasohan 5 24.8 10.2 1.2 1.0 1.0 0.0 1.6 .385 .778 .412
Justin Coleman 5 23.6 8.0 2.4 3.6 1.4 0.0 1.8 .250 .857 .207
Jimmie Taylor 5 22.6 5.0 4.6 0.2 0.2 2.0 1.0 .556 .357 .000
Arthur Edwards 5 20.6 6.0 4.0 1.6 0.6 0.6 1.8 .333 .667 .333
Riley Norris 5 19.4 7.8 2.4 0.4 0.6 0.0 0.6 .455 .824 .417
Donta Hall 5 14.8 3.0 3.2 0.2 0.4 2.0 0.4 .625 .385 .000
Michael Kessens 5 10.4 4.4 2.0 0.0 0.2 0.2 0.6 .900 .667 .000
Brandon Austin 4 10.0 2.3 0.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 .250 .000 .083
Lawson Schaffer 3 2.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 .000 .000 .000
Christian Clark 2 1.0 0.0 0.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 .000 .000 .000
Totals 5 -- 68 33 11 6 6 15 .415 .664 .309

 

**Statistics by ESPN.com

Courtesy of Crimson Magazine

Courtesy of Crimson Magazine

By Stan J. Griffin: November 28, 2015

Although the No. 2 Alabama football team led Auburn for the majority of Saturday's Iron Bowl contest at Jordan-Hare Stadium, Nick Saban's Crimson Tide seemed at times to be fighting an uphill battle against Gus Malzahn's relentlessly scrappy Tigers in a contest that stayed perilously close until midway through the fourth quarter.

Courtesy of Crimson Magazine

By Stan J. Griffin: November 25, 2015

Where have we seen this script before?
The No. 2 University of Alabama football team, very much in the chase for Southeastern Conference and national titles, heads into Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday as it looks to at least lock up the SEC West championship against its biggest rival in the Iron Bowl.
If it sounds familiar, it should, as this was the exact scenario entering the Iron Bowl on The Plains in 2013 as Nick Saban's Crimson Tide entered that game with similar aspirations.

By Stan J. Griffin: November 25, 2015

Next stop, Bryant-Denny Stadium.
That is the hopeful mission for the two remaining West Alabama schools still alive in the state high school football playoffs, as they gear up for semifinal action on Friday night.
For Lance Tucker's 9-4 Fayette High School Tigers and Andro Williams' 10-2 Linden High School Patriots, the task is clear, take care of business with their semifinal tilts, and then it will on to the University of Alabama's tradition-rich football cathedral for the Super Seven state championship games, which begin on Dec. 2.
But it will not be easy work for the Tigers or the Patriots Friday night.
After getting past Brooks 19-12 last Friday in the quarterfinals, Fayette County must hit the road for what is sure to be tough test against a 13-0 Cordova team, which won the championship of Class 4A Region 5.
The Blue Devils are coming off of a 30-20 win against Hamilton last Friday.

By Stan J. Griffin: November 23, 2015

Heading into the quarterfinal round of the state high school football playoffs this past Friday night, six schools from the Tuscaloosa/West Alabama area still had visions of a trip to Bryant-Denny Stadium for the Super Seven, as well as championship dreams.

Now as we head into the semifinal round of postseason play this Friday evening, only two remain standing from our area.

On the Class 4A level, Lance Tucker's Fayette County Tigers are still alive and kicking after defeating Brooks at home 21-12 while in Class 1A, Andro Williams' No. 2 Linden Pat
riots kept their aspirations in full gear by romping over Brantley on the road 41-0.
Ousted from the title chase in the Alabama High School Athletic Association playoffs were Demopolis, previously-undefeated and No. 2 Gordo, and No. 9 Berry, while in the AISA ranks, Webb Tutt's Marengo Academy Longhorns fell in the Class AA championship game to Edgewood Academy 40-30 in a contest played at Troy University.

The following is a rundown of last Friday's postseason play involving area teams:

Fayette County 19, Brooks 12: The Tigers improved to 9-4 on the season and advanced to the semifinals with a gritty win over visiting Brooks. Now the Tigers must hit the road to face a powerful 13-0 Cordova team.
After a scoreless first quarter, Brooks scored on a passing play to go up 6-0, but Fayette County came back to lead 7-6 at the intermission thanks to a 48-yard run by Mario Wilson.

Courtesy of Crimson Magazine

By Stan J. Griffin: November 21, 2015

On a wild and wacky day of college football that saw South Carolina fall to FCS opponent The Citadel at home, No. 8 Florida forced into overtime before finally getting past 30-point underdog Florida Atlantic and No. 3 Ohio State beaten at home by Michigan State, Nick Saban's No. 2 Alabama team made it abundantly clear early that it was not about to become yet another victim to the chaos of the day.

The Crimson Tide used an efficient and balanced offensive onslaught, while the Alabama defense registered yet another shutdown performance, to lead Alabama to a convincing 56-6 romp over FCS member Charleston Southern Saturday before a crowd of 100,611 at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

The Tide improved to 10-1 on the season, guaranteeing a seventh-consecutive season of 10 victories or more, while Jamey Chadwell's Buccaneers of the Big South Conference fell to 9-2.

“I was really pleased with the way our guys came out today," said Saban about his team's big win on Senior Day. "Sometimes we have played a little lackluster in games like this, especially this time of year. With the players, I told them if you’re not inspired to play every play that you play, then you’re kind of cheating yourself because you’re not who you are and how you compete. I certainly was pleased with the way we went out there and executed well. Their guys really played well when they believe in what they do, and they do it well. I was surprised that they didn’t play No. 4 (senior Austin Brown) at quarterback. I thought our guys did a better job on the option today, which was hard to simulate. We got to play a lot of players on both sides of the ball, and I think that’s something that we really needed to do in this game to get those guys some experience and to get more guys ready to play down the road. I thought it was great to recognize our seniors as they have made a tremendous contribution to the program not only on the field, but additionally in the way that they represented off the field with how well they’ve done in the classroom and the kind of ambassadors they’ve been for the University and the program."

 

Alabama, led by the big efforts of Cyrus Jones, Derrick Henry and Calvin Ridley among others, rolled to a 28-0 advantage at the end of the first 15 minutes, a 49-0 cushion by halftime, and then cruised in the second half, playing a host of reserves and younger players.

The Tide scored on its first five offensive possessions, and also scored on a pair of punt returns for touchdowns by Jones to overwhelm the visiting Bucs early and often.

The UA defense, meanwhile, held CSU to 134 total yards (85 rushing, 49 passing) and eight first downs in the game, holding the Buccaneers to 1-of-10 on third downs while causing two turnovers (one fumble and one interception).

Cornerback Bradley Sylve and defensive end Dalvin Tomlinson both had four tackles each to lead Alabama.

After taking the opening kickoff, it did not take long for the Crimson Tide offense to get going behind the play of Coker and Henry.

Beginning its initial possession at the UA 36, the Tide methodically drove 64 yards in 9 plays, with Henry capping the march with a 17-yard touchdown run, his 20th TD of the season. Despite playing only the first quarter of Saturday's contest, the junior tailback  rushed for 68 yards on 9 carries with two touchdowns.

With just under six minutes left in the opening quarter, Henry capped a 10-play, 55-yard Alabama drive with his 21st touchdown of the season, a 2-yard run to make the score 14-0. His 21 scoring runs ties the UA single-season touchdown rush record of Trent Richardson, set in 2011.

Following a poor punt by the Buccaneers later in the period, Alabama set up shop at the CSU 35.

On the second play of the series, Coker found senior receiver Richard Mullaney on a 21-yard scoring pass in which Mullaney did a nice job of keeping his feet in bounds and corralling the pass. Alabama now led 21-0.

With no time remaining in the quarter, Jones took a CSU punt and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown to make the score 28-0. Jones, the senior cornerback,  also had a punt return for a touchdown in the Tide's previous game against Mississippi State.

"It was a bittersweet moment with it being my last game here with the guys I came in with," said Jones, who also had a forced fumble and recovered fumble on the same play in the contest. "Just with this team, it’s been a special year. I felt good about that, making plays and doing what I had to do.”

About midway through the second quarter, Alabama put together a solid 86-yard drive, and the Tide went back to the air to complete the march as Coker connected with Ridley on a 30-yard TD pass to build the advantage to 35-0.

A few moments later, Jones took another line drive punt by the Bucs and went the distance again for a 72-yard touchdown. He became the first Tide player to return two punts for scores in a game. Alabama's advantage had now swelled to 42-0.

With just under two minutes left before halftime, freshman tailback Bo Scarbrough accounted for Alabama's final points of the first half as he scored on a 1-yard run.
The 49 points scored by the Tide were the most in a half by an Alabama team since scoring 52 points against Vanderbilt in 1990 when Gene Stallings was coaching the Crimson Tide

After a scoreless third period, the Buccaneers struck for their only points of the contest early in the fourth quarter as quarterback Kyle Copeland scored on a 3-yard run to cap a 7-play, 74-yard CSU drive to prevent a shutout by the home team.  A two-point conversion failed and the new score was 49-6.

Late in the fourth quarter, Alabama scored its final points as freshman tailback Damien Harris scored his first touchdown at UA via a 6-yard run.

The Tide racked up 23 first downs in the romp, as well as 403 total yards (195 on the ground and 208 in the air).

Scarbrough, in his first significant action at UA, led the Tide in rushing with 69 yards on 10 carries and a score. Harris added 44 yards on his 10 carries while also adding his late TD.

Coker was an efficient 11 of 13 on the day for 155 yards and two TDs while backup Cooper Bateman completed 7 of 11 passes for 47 yards.

Ridley had 4 catches for 49 yards and a score while Ardarius Stewart also caught 4 passes for 45 yards. Cam Sims caught 3 passes for 25 yards.

Jones totaled 115 return yards on his two big scoring plays. 

He also had three tackles for loss in the Tide win while Jabriel Washington contributed an interception.

"Well, the outcome was probably what we expected," said Chadwell. "I was hoping we would put up a little more of a fight there in the first half. Our other guys came out and competed in the second half, which was good to see. Our main goal was to come in here and not get hurt, not get injured. I think we accomplished that. They’re obviously a good team.”

Alabama completes its regular season next Saturday, Nov. 28 in arguably college football's biggest rivalry, as the Tide travels to Jordan-Hare Stadium for the annual Iron Bowl clash with Gus Malzahn's 6-6 Auburn Tigers. Auburn defeated Idaho Saturday to become bowl-eligible.
Kickoff is slated for 2:39 p.m. CST, and the game will be nationally televised by CBS Sports.

Courtesy of Crimson Magazine

 

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