The Tornadoes pulled off a 42-20 win over ACA, handing the Patriots their first regular season region loss since 2002.
The Tornadoes (6-1, 5-0 Region 4) jumped out to a 21-7 halftime lead, as Mardrecas Hood pulled in an 18-yard fade pass, Markeithton Hall sprinted 58 yards with an interception, and Reginald Jones raced 64 yards with a handoff.
The lone ACA first half score came on Daniel O’Quinn’s 17-yard scamper. Three other Pats’ possessions in Tornadoes’ territory resulted in zero points, including a missed 30-yard field goal by Blake Brenton on the first drive of the night. ACA fell to 6-1, 4-1.
To the categories:
TOP PROSPECT: Two of the best wide receivers in the state squared off in the game, and both showed why they are considered such. Pickens County senior Mardrecas Hood (6-3, 180) caught three passes for 70 yards. He broke up two passes at safety.
"Drique’s’ having a good year. He’s playing hard for us," said Pickens County coach Patrick Plott, who is in his first year at the helm in Reform after leaving Aliceville High.
"He’s scoring touchdowns for us, and he’s been one of our leaders all year."
No argument from ACA coach Stephen Hooks, who seems relieved that Hood is a senior.
"On film, you watch him against good football teams, and even when he’s in double coverage, he can go up and get the ball. No matter what," Hooks explained.
Hood now has 16 grabs for 571 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Oh, and don’t let the fact that his dad coaches SEC basketball fool you when it comes to ACA junior Brandon Gottfried (6-5, 207). Gottfried used his height and hands to reel in five short catches for 27 yards.
Plott’s impressed by, "his hands, and the way he runs his routes. If the ball’s close he will catch it. He’s a good blocker, also."
On this night, Gottfried did have one drop and two other balls thrown behind him that he got a hand on, but either of those would have been a Julioesque grab had he held on. For the season, Gottfried has caught 25 balls for 527 yards and seven scores.
Hooks always praises his kids, but when asked about Gottfried, a special gleam appeared in his eye.
"Physical prowess, great hands, runs his routes well, good student. Excellent downfield blocker, and his effort level is awesome. He plays wide open."
SOLID SENIORS: For Pickens County, Ryan Collier (5-10, 165) gets it done for Plott, as does defensive end Brandon Shirley, who is 6-1, 185. Shirley was in the backfield all night.
Hooks knows he can count on James Sandlin (6-2, 289) to clog up the middle of the defensive line, and compares him to Brian Motley, when the current Tider manned the nose for Autaugaville.
Harrison Pollard (6-3, 205) can do whatever’s needed, be it play quarterback, running back or defensive back. Pollard’s dad, Ben, is strength coach at Mississippi State, where he went after leaving Alabama.
And speaking of dads, Steadman Shealy, Jr., has grown to 6-0, 173, and he caught six balls for 71 yards. He did have a drop. His season totals: 33 catches, 791 yards and six TDs.
JUNIORS TO WATCH: Gottfried is the favorite target of Pats’ quarterback Matt Sandlin (6-4, 207), who won the job after a hotly-contested battle with Pollard that spanned spring and fall practice. Sandlin runs Hooks’ version of the spread offense nearly flawlessly.
For the Tornadoes, Plott can rely on 6-foot, 160-pound Dominique Jones to come through at receiver, and he did so by gathering in a batted long ball and taking it 81 yards to "the house" in the third quarter in what may have been the back-breaker for the Pats, who then trailed 28-7.
SUPER SOPHS: Pickens County’s quarterback Deon Curry (5-11, 150) can’t graduate soon enough to suit region foes like ACA, which has 5-foot-10, 205-pound Daniel O’Quinn as its leading rusher.
LARRY MUNSON "MY GOD, A FRESHMAN!" AWARDS: Rarely do we have multiple winners of this prestigious award, but we do this week. PCHS lineman Nicholas Stewart, is listed at 5-9, 160 but has lots of time to add height and weight. Not to be outdone, Patriots’ receiver Parker Barrineau is already 6-1, 176, with hands and speed.
FAMILIAR FACES: Well-known ACA parents like Gottfried, Pollard, Shealy and UA gym coach Sarah Patterson are Friday night regulars at ACA. Meanwhile, Hook’s coaching staff includes a pair of former Crimson Tide players: John Causey, who coaches the D-line and coordinates the defense, and defensive ends coach David Cavan.
Serving as team manager for Hooks is young Cameron Gottfried. (Brandon and Cameron’s sister, Mary Layson Gottfried, excels at volleyball and hoops for the school.)
HOW ‘BOUT THEM BURGERS: American Christian never fails to satisfy the taste buds with their burgers and dogs, and this week was no exception. You can taste the char-grilled flavor, and if lucky, catch 'em fresh off the fire.
NEXT FNL: The annual Hoover/Vestavia "love fest" (not) is next Friday, and, as usual, FNL will cover. We'll check out guys like the Buc’s Mardrecas (son of Bobby) Humphrey and the Rebs' Blake (son of Rick) Burgess. This game is always a blast to check out. These folks just don’t like each other.
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