J.B. Pennington High School’s Tigers dropped a hard-fought 55-28 decision to Geraldine last Friday in loss that now puts the Tigers’ backs to the wall heading into this week’s playoff deciding game at Blountsville against New Hope.
Coach Keith Garner and his squad are energized, however. A passing tandem evolved in the setback that could have Pennington followers jumping out of their seats for the next two seasons. Sophomore quarterback Brandon Butts was 28-of-38 passing for a school record 404 yards and four touchdowns. His favorite target was sophomore receiver Blake Harris, who had 11 receptions for 202 yards and one TD. He also caught two 2-point conversions.
The duo grabbed this week’s AHSAA Prep Spotlight. However, both will need to be at their best this week as Pennington and New Hope battle for the fourth spot remaining in the playoffs in Class 3A, Region 6. Geraldine (6-2) has clinched the region title with a road game remaining this week with Pisgah. Plainview (7-1) has captured the second seed with a game remaining at Holly Pond. And Sylvania (6-2) has the third spot with a road game this week at Brindlee Mountain.
New Hope (5-3) and Pennington (3-5) are both 3-3 in region play, meaning the winner advances to the playoffs while the winner packs up to wait for the 2013 season.
Only a handful of regions have all playoff spots decided heading into week nine. That leaves more than 40 regions still with multiple teams vying for playoff berths that will be decided by the outcomes of this week’s games.
Class 1A, Region 1 (Linden, St. Luke’s, McIntosh and Fruitdale) has its four qualifiers already. The order of the final two spots are still up for grabs, however. A Fruitdale win over region champion Linden could move them to third. A loss would give McIntosh third and Fruitdale fourth.
Other top performances from Week 8 include:
HERMAN McKENZIE, TALLASSEE: Set a school single-game rushing record with 322 yards rushing on 23 carries in a 41-21 Class 4A, Region 2 win over St. James. He scored on runs of 66 and 93 yards.
D.D. THOMAS, DOTHAN: The Tigers quarterback rushed for 176 yards on just six carries (29.3 per carry) and completed 10-of-15 passes for 152 yards and four touchdowns in Dothan’s 52-17 win over Baldwin County.
NATHAN JONES, BALDWIN COUNTY: The quarterback was 30-of-50 passing for 392 yards and two touchdowns in Baldwin County’s 52-17 loss to Dothan. He had 273 passing yards at the half.
GARRET LEWIS, SIPSEY VALLEY: Completed 10-of-11 passes for 310 yards and four touchdowns in Sipsey Valley's 63-30 win over Holt. His TD passes included a 90-yarder to Caleb Kuykendall and 84-yarder to Braylan Smith. Lewis also rushed for 49 yards – for 359 total yards – and scored on a 10-yard run.
JALEN HARRIS, NORTHVIEW: The Cougars quarterback completed 17-of-24 passes for 211 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 125 yards and another TD on 20 carries as Northview upset Foley 41-29.
LUKE BAILEY, FAIRVIEW: Completed 14-of-27 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns and had 19 rush attempts for 132 yards and two more scores as the Aggies beat Sardis 55-44.
KALEB BECK, DADEVILLE: Engineered the unbeaten Tigers’ 50-46 win over Handley by completing 16-of-22 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns. He added a rushing TD and teammate C. J. Tolbert added four scores with 191 yards rushing on 21 carries. He scored twice in the final 40 seconds to seal the win.
CLARK QUISENBERRY, ENTERPRISE: Completed 17-of-22 passes for 236 yards and four touchdowns – all in just one half – sparking Enterprise’s 45-7 win over Robertsdale.
AUSTIN JOHNSON, ELBA: Accounted for five touchdowns, throwing for three and rushing for two as the Tigers beat Calhoun 50-6. He was 11-of-14 passing for 210 yards and rushed for 23 yards on six tries. Reid Rials also completed 2-of-2 passes for TDs covering 5 and 42 yards and also caught six passes as a receiver for 83 yards and another score. He also had a 58-yard kickoff return and 37-yard punt return for 225 total yards.
TOBY PEE, SARDIS: ran for 270 yards and four touchdowns on 27 carries and caught six passes for 57 yards in the Lions' 55-44 loss to Fairview.
RANDY BLACKWELL, FYFFE: The senior running back/linebacker carried 21 times for 152 yards and three straight second-half touchdowns to help Fyffe rally for a 33-23 victory over North Sand Mountain. With Fyffe trailing 17-6 in the second half, Blackwell ran for TDs of 7, 12 and 5 yards to put the Red Devils ahead to stay. He also contributed eight tackles and a pass broken up. Teammate Trent Thrash added 176 yards on 23 rush attempts and scored twice as Fyffe finished with 343 rushing yards for the game.
JERMICHAEL HARRISH, PARRISH: Connected on 6-for-10 passes for 132 yards and rushed for 168 yards while accounting for six total touchdowns in the Tornadoes’ 44-31 win over Lynn. Harris picked up a Lynn fumble near midfield and ran 39 yards for the game-clinching touchdown as Parrish snapped a five-game losing streak to the Bears. He has had a hand in 13 TDs over the last two weeks.
XAVIER McCOLLUM, WINFIELD: Rushed for 214 yards on 26 carries and scored five touchdowns in a 45-32 loss to Vinemont. His scoring runs covered 4, 17, 24, 5 and 9 yards.
RODERICK DAVIS, DEMOPOLIS: Piled up 209 rushing yards on 10 carries and scored on a 66-yard run in a 47-0 victory over Satsuma.
DEON HALL, CENTRAL-PHENIX CITY: Ran 24 times for 273 yards and two touchdowns in the Red Devils’ 48-32 victory over Sidney Lanier.
JAMARIOUS HENDERSON, DALE COUNTY: Rushed for 269 yards on 23 carries with four touchdowns, including three long scores in the second half, as the Warriors scored the last 19 points to beat Abbeville 39-22. Henderson’s second-half TD runs covered 39, 48 and 46 yards. He had a 53-yarder in the first half.
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TERRANCE HOLLINGSWORTH, BERRY: Rushed for 221 yards on eight carries with four touchdowns as the Wildcats beat South Lamar 42-7. He scored on runs from 17, 24, 55 and 65 yards out. He also passed for a 2-point conversion – all in the first half.
TY JONES, VINEMONT: Topped 200 rushing yards for the fourth straight week and sixth time this season, collecting 228 yards on 34 carries in a 45-32 victory over Winfield. Jones had five touchdowns, scoring on runs of 1, 4, 10 and 24 yards and on a 50-yard punt return.
FORREST LIVINGSTON, SPRING GARDEN: Rushed for 199 yards, scored three touchdowns (3, 30, 40 yards) and had a 2-point conversion in the Panthers' 44-21 victory at Donoho.
TORREY GREEN, HANCEVILLE: Racked up 199 rushing yards on only 16 carries and scored the Bulldogs' first three touchdowns — on runs of 42, 35 and 5 yards — in a 28-24 come-from-behind win over Danville.
HECTOR RAMIREZ, SAMSON: Caught a 34-yard touchdown pass with 2:20 to play to put the Tigers on top and then intercepted a Cottonwood pass at the goal line with the Bears threatening at the 6 to preserve a 35-28 win.
NICK McCALLISTER, PROVIDENCE CHRISTIAN: Had 18 tackles with one sack in a 13-10 win over Ariton.
CHRIS WHITEHEAD, HOLLY POND: Was a one-man show in the Broncos' 27-6 home loss to Pisgah, pulling down two interceptions, blocking and recovering a punt, and hauling in a 77-yard touchdown pass.
KALEB ESTILL, ADDISON: Had a pair of sacks in a dominant second-half defensive effort that allowed the Bulldogs to clinch a playoff berth with a 20-12 win over previously unbeaten Falkville. John Everett also had a crucial sack, and Levi Tyree pitched in a fourth-quarter interception for Addison.
JUSTIN LUCAS, NOTASULGA: Recorded 19 tackles, forced two fumbles and ran for 118 yards and two touchdowns on just four carries in the Blue Devils’ Class 1A, Region 4-clinching, 51-6 win over Winterboro.
CHANDLER MACKEY, SAND ROCK: Recorded eight tackles and an interception on defense and rushed for 121 yards on 10 carries with two touchdowns on offense as the Wildcats beat West End 28-13.
JOSH WHITE, BEAUREGARD: Had 18 tackles as the Hornets beat Alabama Christian 28-14. Teammate Trey Collins caught five passes for 144 yards and two TDs and rushed for a third.
BRANDON HOLLAND, BOAZ: The junior linebacker had 19 tackles, including one for loss, in the Pirates’ 20-17 loss to Arab.
CURTIS NICHOLS, MOODY: Had 13 tackles and two sacks and teammate Trevor Staggs had 14 tackles, a sack and another tackle for a loss as Moody beat Curry 33-15.
SHAQUNNA JOHNSON, CENTRAL-PHENIX CITY: The sophomore defensive tackle, picked up a pair of Sidney Lanier fumbles and returned both for touchdowns in the Red Devils' 48-32 win over the Poets. Johnson returned the first fumble 14 yards and the second 8 yards for scores.
HUNTER McENTIRE, HOUSTON ACADEMY: McEntire had 16 tackles with one quarterback sack and also returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown to lead the Raiders past Wicksburg 35-14.
DAKOTA NEWSOME, FYFFE: The sophomore linebacker finished with 16 tackles in a 33-23 win over North Sand Mountain to keep Fyffe (8-0) unbeaten.
LUKE HOLT, HORSESHOE BEND: The linebacker had 14 tackles and three for losses in a 29-28 win over Randolph County. Teammate Cory Battle was a workhorse with 28 rushes for 189 yards and one score and four receptions for 72 yards and another TD.
FERNANDO LIMON, PLAINVIEW: The sophomore place-kicker booted a 33-yard field goal with 36 seconds remaining as the Bears edged host Sylvania 24-21 to break a tie for second place in Class 3A, Region 6. Limon was also 3-of- 3 on extra points.