2013 year in review: Football

Published 10:31 pm Friday, December 27, 2013

Charles Henderson players after winning a semi-final game in the AHSAA 4A playoffs against UMS-Wright in Troy, Ala., Friday, Nov. 29, 2013. Charles Henderson won 38-36. (Photo/Thomas Graning)

Charles Henderson players after winning a semi-final game in the AHSAA 4A playoffs against UMS-Wright in Troy, Ala., Friday, Nov. 29, 2013. Charles Henderson won 38-36. (Photo/Thomas Graning)

On the field the 2013 high school football season produced moments that will be talked about for a long, long Time…if not forever.

Off the field, decisions were made that fans will debate for equally as long.

The Charles Henderson Trojans turned in one of, if not the best, season in school history in 2013. The Trojans ran past, over and around their competition en route to a 14-1 record, and runner-up finish in the Alabama High School Athletic Association 4A division.

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The Trojans, led by a whopping 16 All-Area Team honorees including Messenger Player of the Year John Johnson and Coach of the Year Mike Dean, set new school records for wins in a season, points scored in a season, yards from scrimmage and others.

The Trojans won the school’s fourth-ever region championship by knocking off state powers Beauregard and Tallassee and cruising past region foes Ashford, Headland, St. James, Alabama Christian and Bullock County.

Charles Henderson won a wild 59-42 game against Eufaula in the final regular season game of the year to finish the regular ranked No. 1 in the Alabama Sports Writers Association poll, and the only undefeated team in 4A.

Through the first four rounds of the playoffs, Charles Henderson routed opponent after opponent.

The Trojans demolished Dora in the first round 67-7, and knocked off Childersburg 35-0 in the second round.

After going on the road to beat Central-Clay County in the third round 34-7, Charles Henderson returned home for the semifinals against the defending state champion UMS-Wright Bulldogs.

The Trojans and Bulldogs waged a back-and-forth war for four quarters, and Charles Henderson fended off a late UMS rally to win 38-36.

With the win, the Trojans advanced to their first state title game since winning the blue mad in 1980.

However, the Trojans were unable to capture the crown, falling to Oneonta in the state title game at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, 28-10.

Dean said the Trojans never got in synch in the championship game.

“We probably played as poorly as we have all year long,” Dean said. “Some of our guys never looked comfortable and it was evident on the first series defensively. On three of the first four plays, we were misaligned. We even wore wristbands to help them out with calls, but we had to take them off because that was slowing us down even more. We never got any form of rhythm.”

After the season, Dean resigned as head coach citing “family decisions” and will hand the reins of the high-powered Trojans over to a new coach for 2014 and beyond.

The Pike County Bulldogs got back to where many in Brundidge feel they belong: the playoffs.

After missing out on post-season play for two-consecutive seasons, the Dawgs not only got back to the playoffs, but also knocked off highly ranked Trinity in the first round.

Pike County finished the 2013 season 7-5 with wins over Goshen, Abbeville, Daleville, Montgomery Catholic, Geneva, Opp and Trinity.

Two of the Bulldogs’ biggest wins came when they shutout Abbeville 28-0 early in the season, and smothered playoff-bound Opp 19-8 in the regular season finale.

The Bulldogs were led on offense by three All-Area players’ running back LaMarcus Adair, dual-threat QB Jerrell Lawson and deep threat Ryshaun Hall.

On defense, the Dawgs showed signs of returning to their glory days. The team swallowed opponents up in a swarm of purple and silver on numerous occasions.

Following a season-ending loss to Bayside Academy in the second round of the AHSAA playoffs, head coach Fred Holland said he was proud of his players.

“This team came a long way and worked hard,” Holland said. “This team fought hard. I can’t thank them enough for the work they put in this year. They make the program proud.”

The Goshen Eagles accomplished something no other team in school history had ever done.

2013 marked the sixth-straight season the Eagles advanced to the AHSAA playoffs.

Goshen finished 5-6 for the second-straight season, and scored wins over New Brockton, Calhoun, Central-Hayneville, Zion Chapel and McKenzie.

The Eagles came up short in the first round of the playoffs against perennial power Sweet Water, losing 46-0.

After the season, Goshen head coach Bart Snyder said he liked what the future had in store for his team.

“We have great seniors and are proud of what they have done for us,” he said. “But, this game had more to offer to the underclassmen. Sweet Water has a great program, and its good for them to see how it’s done even if we lose in the process. These things don’t happen overnight and we look forward to our future.”

Pike Liberal Arts endured a coaching change less than 24 hours before the start of fall practice, and fought through a rash of injuries during the season en route to a 2-8 season.

Head coach Gene Allen stepped in for the legendary Wayne Grant, who resigned the position on July 31, and went right to work trying to rebuild the once-proud Patriot program.

Pike knocked off Lyman-Ward Military Academy 60-0 early in the seasons, and ended the year on a high note, beating Ashford Academy 34-6.

Allen, who won a state title at Greenville High School in the mid 1990’s, said his team made strides throughout the season.

“We have really good kids,” Allen said. “They came to work every single day and tried to get better. We got beat up early and had to piece together things late in the year. But I am proud of the guys for their work ethic and willingness to play hard. That is stuff you can’t teach. We will get back to where we need to be.”

Down in Jack, the Zion Chapel Rebels limped to a 0-10 season under first-year head coach Bradley Bowers.

Zion never got on track during the season, which saw them fall to Central-Hayneville in October breaking the Lions’ 56-game losing streak.

Despite the winless season, Bowers is excited about what he feels are brighter days ahead.

“We struggled quite a bit this year,” Bowers said. “But the sun will come up tomorrow. We know we have a lot of underclassmen and know those little guys will grow up eventually. We took our lumps this year, but if we keep working hard every day, good things will come. I know that for sure.”