Cordova's title run top sports story for 2018

By W. BRIAN HALE and JOHNATHAN BENTLEY, Eagle Sports
Posted 12/31/18

The 2018 sports calendar was filled with championships. From volleyball to tennis to basketball, the year was one to remember.

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Cordova's title run top sports story for 2018

Posted

The 2018 sports calendar was filled with championships. From volleyball to tennis to basketball, the year was one to remember.

Off the field, the Oakman football team was hit with hardship after several players were injured by a falling wall prior to a playoff game at Pike County.

Here is a look at this year’s top sports stories.

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1. Cordova wins area’s first state basketball championship

The third time was the charm for the Cordova Blue Devils basketball team in 2018.

After two prior trips to the Final Four, the Blue Devils clinched Walker County’s first AHSAA basketball title with a 56-54 victory over Madison Academy in the Class 4A championship game at the BJCC in Birmingham in March.

The title also marked the first championship for head coach Heath Burns, who coached in his fifth state tournament after previous trips with Cordova, Parrish and Dora.

Cordova, which also won a regional championship, finished the season 27-8.

Individually, the championship season helped garner plenty of awards for the team and its senior leaders.

Chatman, who had played for Burns since his seventh-grade season, secured state tournament and Northwest Region Tournament Most Valuable Player, First-Team All-State honors and was named the Class 4A Player of the Year. Jayce Willingham, also a finalist for the Player of the Year award, was named to the All-Tournament team for both the Final Four and the Northwest Regional and was a member of the First-Team All-State. Demetrius Kirk joined his teammates on being named as a member of the Northwest Regional and State All-Tournament teams.

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No. 2

Falling wall injures Oakman football players

Five Oakman players were hospitalized in November in Brundidge prior to the Wildcats’ first-round playoff game against Pike County after a privacy wall fell in the visitor’s locker room.

The 6 x 15-foot concrete retaining wall fell on four players as they were sitting under it — trapping all four and injuring a fifth. Teammates quickly rushed to remove the fallen wall from the trapped players, who were rushed to Troy Regional Medical Center. One player suffered an injured vertebrae and was admitted to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham.

The Alabama High School Athletic Association mandated the playoff game be postponed to the following Monday after the incident — with school already out for Veteran’s Day.

In a contest marred by poor field conditions due to heavy rains, Oakman lost to Pike County, 21-8.

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No. 3

Jasper volleyball team wins 5A state title

Jasper opened the volleyball season as the team to beat in Class 5A.

Coming off a runner-up finish in Class 6A, the Vikings had just one goal in 2018 — getting the school’s first volleyball championship.

They did just that in impressive fashion, sweeping through the state tournament to claim the title at Bill Harris Arena in Birmingham in November.

In the Class 5A championship match, Jasper defeated St. James 25-20, 25-16, 25-19. The Vikings closed the season at 70-5, becoming the first team since 2012 to win 70 matches in a season. All five losses came against Class 7A teams, including three to 7A state champion McGill-Toolen.

Jasper’s McKinley Ferguson was named the State Tournament MVP. Both Alex Oliver and Molly Kate Atkins also made the All-State Tournament Team.

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No. 4

Jasper football rebounds with playoff run

After back-to-back losing seasons, the Jasper Vikings football program made a triumphant return to prominence in 2018, finishing the year with an 11-2 record while advancing to the third round of the Class 5A playoffs.

Under new head coach Bryan Moore, the Vikings took the field with a new look and style.

After being narrowly edged by Cullman to open the year, Jasper finished the regular season perfect with nine-consecutive wins and captured the Class 5A, Region 7 title.

After two consecutive playoffs victories, the Vikings’ 11-game winning streak was snapped in the third round of the postseason by Mortimer Jordan.

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No. 5

Jasper boys win 6A tennis championship

Jasper’s boys tennis team is back on top, following a run to the title at Lagoon Park in Montgomery in April.

The Vikings won four of six singles titles and a double championship on their way to the 6A title.

No. 2 Ben Hicks, No. 3 Mason Woodman, No. 5 Jack Bowen and No. 6 Grayson Barber won singles championships as well as the No. 3 doubles team of John Bertoldi and Bowen.

The Vikings finished with 54 points, 14 ahead of second place Muscle Shoals.

The championship was the 10th in program history and second in the last three years.

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No. 6

Clayton wins 132-pound state wrestling championship

Dora senior Zach Clayton culminated a four-year journey as a member of coach Hezzie Morgan’s Bulldog wrestling squad by winning the 132-pound weight division state championship at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville in February.

Clayton defeated Kage Robertson of Susan Moore via a 16-3 major decision in the championship final and finished his senior season with an overall record of 60-1.

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No. 7

Sumiton Christian finishes as state runner-up in softball

Following the loss of several key seniors to graduation after winning three consecutive state championships, the Sumiton Christian Eagles overcame youth and a slow start to the season to make a return trip to the AHSAA State Tournament in Montgomery.

The Eagles finished as state runner-up, losing to eventual champion Brantley, closing the season at 39-23.

Sumiton Christian’s Taylor Whisonant, Amber Hayes and Anna Calloway were named to the All-State Tournament team.

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No. 8

Bevill State basketball off to hot start in 2018

The Bevill State basketball team is off to a hot start in the 2018-19 season.

Coach Tommy Suitts’ squad heads into the new year on an eight-game winning streak and a 10-1 overall record with conference play starting at home on Jan. 4 against Enterprise State.

The Bears have the second leading scorer in the conference in Wanya King, who scores 24.2 points per game. Nelson Haskin leads the conference in blocks (3.6 per game) and Chris Freeman leads in field goal percentage (76.0).

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No. 9

Sumiton Christian baseball makes lengthy playoff run

Sumiton Christian put together its longest playoff run in more than a decade, advancing to the 1A state quarterfinals in 2018.

Led by a top-notch pitching rotation that included Joe Hicks, Andrew Tubbs and Isaiah Wright, the Eagles swept both Isabella and Victory Christian in the playoffs before falling to Millry in the third round.

The Eagles finished the season at 23-12.

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No. 10

Another volleyball state championship for Addison

Addison won a state volleyball championship for the sixth straight season in 2018, but the title didn’t come easy.

The Bulldogs had to fight off county rival Winston County in five sets in the Class 2A state championship match.

After winning the first set, Winston County won the following two before Addison rallied for the 25-21, 20-25, 19-25, 25-16, 15-8 victory.

Addison’s Savannah Manley was named Tournament MVP.