DME’s top five: Best of the best

Staff members recall top 5 football games they covered

By DME Sports Staff
Posted 5/19/20

With the high school football season less than three months away — hopefully — three staff members of the Daily Mountain Eagle are looking over the top five games they have covered for the newspaper.

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DME’s top five: Best of the best

Staff members recall top 5 football games they covered

Posted

With the high school football season less than three months away — hopefully — four staff members of the Daily Mountain Eagle are looking over the top five games they have covered for the newspaper.

Games could involve any of the 12 local teams.

Those contributing their top five are Sports Editor Johnathan Bentley, Sports Writer W. Brian Hale,  New Media Coordinator Jeffery Winborne and Publisher James Phillips.

Johnathan Bentley

1. Oakman 40, Cold Springs 33
Oct. 20, 2004

This one was more than just a regular-season football game.

Oakman’s players took to the field on this Friday night just one week after teammate Zach Upton collapsed and died during the Wildcats’ home game against Falkville. At Cold Springs, players and coaches from both teams met at midfield for a prayer before the game.

Oakman followed with one of the most improbable comebacks in school history — the contest is mentioned among Memorable Games on ahsfhs.org, the Alabama High School Football Historical Society website.

Down 33-12 in the fourth quarter, Oakman scored 28 points in a hectic six-minute stretch, recovering a pair of onside kicks before quarterback Chad Kilgore connected with Walker Woods on the game-winning touchdown pass with 18 seconds remaining for the win.

2. Parrish 77, Cedar Bluff 51
Second-round Class 1A playoffs
Nov. 16, 2001

Sophomore running back Tony Dixon erupted for 303 rushing yards and seven total touchdowns in Parrish’s 77-51 victory at Cedar Bluff in their second-round playoff game back in 2001.

The Tornadoes actually trailed 31-29 at the half before putting 48 points on the scoreboard in the second half. Dixon had six rushing touchdowns along with a 90-yard kickoff return for a score. The teams totaled 1.137 yards of offense in a game that is still the second-highest scoring playoff game — and the seventh-highest scoring game — in state history.

3. Cordova 54, Trinity 40
Second-round Class 3A playoffs
Nov. 14, 2008

Cordova and Trinity put up some yardage and points in their second-round playoff game at Cordova in 2008. The teams combined for 1,266 yards — the second most in AHSAA history.

Senior running back Tim Simon led the Cordova offense, rushing for 374 yards — 290 in the second half — and five touchdowns. Cordova rushed for 522 yards in the game. Trinity got as close as 47-40 in the fourth quarter before Simon finally put the Wildcats away with a 32-yard touchdown run.

4. Walker 21, Cullman 17
Sept. 2, 2005

The 2005 season may have not been the most memorable for the Vikings, who finished 6-5, but it did include this gem in the region opener at Cullman High School in Week 2.

The Bearcats controlled the bulk of the game, taking a 17-7 lead early in the fourth quarter, but Walker battled its way back getting a pair of touchdowns. With time running out and Walker at the Cullman 21-yard line, Viking quarterback Josh Walls lofted the ball for the end zone as he was ran out of bounds. The ball went through a Cullman defenders’ hands right to Walker receiver Ryan Killingworth for the go-ahead score with 18 seconds left to complete the rally.

5. Cordova 35, Cleburne Co. 34
Second-round Class 3A playoffs
Nov. 14, 2014

Cordova made the state semifinals in 2014, but the Blue Devils had to get a late rally to beat Cleburne County 35-34 at Hudson-Kerby Field in the second round of the playoffs. Trailing 34-21 in the fourth quarter, the Blue Devils struck for two touchdowns in the final six minutes. Quarterback Chase Trotter went in for the go-ahead sneak late in the game. Trotter accounted for all five scores, throwing for 281 yards with four touchdown passes.

Cleburne County had a chance to spoil the rally, but missed a 25-yard field goal in the final seconds.

W. Brian Hale

1. Dora 33, Charles Henderson 21
Third-round Class 4A playoffs
Nov. 23, 2012

Johnny Wright’s return to Dora in 2012 was sensational and gave Bulldog fans plenty of good memories. The third-round playoff game against Charles Henderson, played in the Troy Trojans’ Veterans Memorial Stadium was no ex-ception. The Bulldog offense rushed for over 200 yards while the defense made life miserable for Charles Henderson by forcing several turnovers. Ahead 27-21 to start the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs used a classic eat-the-clock drive, further wearing down Charles Henderson for the final score of the game, 33-21, paving the way for the Bulldogs’ first trip to the semifinals since 1988.

2. Jasper 21, Cullman 19
August 22, 2019

Since 2006, the Vikings had only won one game against the Bearcats and hadn’t won at home since 2004. Adding into the pre-game hoopla was the debut of the new turf at Ki-Ro Gambrell Field, a video scoreboard and a No. 3 ranking for Jasper after a stellar 2018 campaign. In a very rare occurrence, every member of the Eagle’s sports staff was able to help cover the game, what our publisher James Phillips would later dub as “360-degree coverage.” After building a 21-6 lead, Jasper gave up two touch-downs to Cullman in the fourth quarter, but a game-clinching interception by Kevon Samuel sealed the 21-19 win and allowed the Viking to take the edge in the overall series, 35-34-2.

3. Oakman 35, Lexington 28
First-Round Class 3A playoffs
Nov. 7 2014

The Wildcats, having earned the Region 5 championship, were aiming to secure two goals heading into the game against Lexington, advancing to the second round of the playoffs and earning their 30th win in three wins — a feat that had never been accomplished in program history. Down 28-21 to start the fourth quarter, Oakman scored two touchdowns to take a 35-28 and stopped a Lexington ball carrier inches from the goalline on the final play of the contest to win the game.

4. Addison 24, Sumiton Christian 21
Sept. 9, 2016

An absolute classic from beginning to end. With Addison in control at the half, 16-14, the Eagles went ahead early in the third quarter 21-16. The Bulldogs countered with a 12-play drive for a score then converted two points for the 24-21 victory.

5. Sumiton Christian 27, R.A. Hubbard 26
Sept. 8, 2017

A very fun game to cover, but for me even more so as it was the first time my oldest daughter was able to join me and enjoy the game together.

Jeffery Winborne

1. 2012 Carbon Hill (season)

Cheating a little with this pick as it isn’t a particular game. It was my first year covering anything for the Eagle, so my writing was atrocious. The Bulldogs themselves finished their season 0-10. But despite that, you never forget your first. Additionally, I got to cover my youngest brother, Hunter Winborne, during his senior season which made it an especially memorable year for me.

2. Jasper 35, Central Clay County 34 (2OT)
September 28, 2019

I didn’t technically cover this game from a traditional standpoint, but as part of the DME PrepZone video coverage, I filmed highlights from the sidelines. All eyes were turned to Lineville, Alabama as No. 1 Jasper and No. 2 Central-Clay faced off in a double overtime thriller. The game came down to a two-point conversion attempt in the second overtime. Despite some question-able officiating, the Vikings left with the victory en route to an undefeated regular season.

3. Curry 42, Cordova 41
November 1, 2013

Cordova traveled to Curry with a 2-7 record. The Yellow Jackets were 1-8. Trailing 41-27 in the fourth quarter, Curry’s Tristan Westbrook ran in his only touchdown of the night to make it a seven-point game. The Blue Devils then fumbled the ball, committed a personal foul and a pass interference penalty to put Curry in position to score the touchdown and go-ahead two-point-conversion. It was an otherwise disappointing season for both teams, but the atmosphere in Hudson-O’Rear Stadium that night was nothing short of electric.

4. Walker 55, Dora 7
October 27, 2016

Sometimes great sports moments do not come necessarily from the play on the field, rather the emotion of the moment. That is what comes to mind from my first and last time covering Walker High School. It became a polarizing topic when Jasper City Schools announced the name change from Walker to Jasper for the newly built high school. So when the 4-5 Vikings were able to pull off a huge win against Dora to end the Walker High School era, it was a tangibly emotional moment.

“For us to get a win for the community of Jasper — for Walker High School one last time — says a lot about our guys and I’m real proud to be a part of that,” Walker’s then-head coach Heath Brunner said after the game. “There’s a lot of tradition at Walker High School and it’s good for those guys to go out with a victory tonight.”

5. Oakman 55, Greene County 36
October 26, 2018

Christian Hubbard was a beast for the Wildcats, but on this particular night the then-junior running back accounted for 206 yards and five touchdowns rushing and another score receiving. I remember talking to Coach Mark Hastings after the game and telling him that “I was running out of ways to compliment Hubbard.” He never failed to entertain in the Oakman backfield, but 2018 and this game in particular was something special to watch.

James Phillips

1. Dora 34, Cordova 31
Sept. 5, 1997

This was the best ending to a high school football game that I’ve ever covered.

With eight seconds left in the game, Cordova led 31-28. My girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife, was on the sideline with me. Both of us are Dora graduates. She said, “I think this one is over.” I quickly said, “It’s never over until it’s over.”

Moments later, quarterback Jon Black connected with Keith Pryor for a 53-yard score to give the Bulldogs a 34-31 win over their rivals from Blue Devil country. That was the loudest I’ve ever heard Horace Roberts Stadium in Dora.

2. Winston County 7, Addison 0
Sept. 11, 2009

This game was low on offense but high on excitement. I was covering it as a play-by-play guy for WJLX radio with my broadcast partner Russell Moore, who was covering the game for the DME. In what we called “an epic defensive battle,” it took one big play to pick up the win for Winston County.

Winston County quarterback Cole Hayes hit Kollin Ergle with a 53-yard touchdown strike on a trick play and the Yellow Jackets squeaked out a 7-0 victory over Addison in an epic defensive battle.

With Winston County facing a 2nd-and-8 and with less than two minutes remaining in a 0-0 tie, Winston County’s Ergle, who normally lined up at fullback, hid along the left sideline and escaped down the field all alone. Hayes hit his target in stride and Ergle corralled the ball and scampered in for the 53-yard score. Ergle added the extra point for a 7-0 lead with 1:18 remaining in the game.

Both teams had less than 200 yards of total offense.

3. Carbon Hill 19, Alexandria 14
Nov. 12, 1999

There aren’t many times through history that Carbon Hill has been playing football in mid-November, but head coach Davey Reed had a special team in 1999 that is still talked about as possibly the best bunch of Bulldogs ever.

Alexandria was a perennial powerhouse in the 1990s, and the Cubs were riding a 47-game home winning streak when Carbon Hill traveled there for a second-round playoff game.

The Carbon Hill defense held Alexandria scoreless over the final three quarters of the game. The defensive standout for the Bulldogs was Nick Keeton, who finished the game with 24 tackles which raised his season total to 214 tackles on the year. Keeton also forced a fumble and recovered a fumble on the night. The defense also forced three lost fumbles that the Bulldogs’ offense turned into points to earn the 19-14 win and set a team record with 12 wins on the year.

4. T.W. Martin 20, Vina 6
Aug. 28, 1998

This was the game that opened the 1998 season and ended “The Streak” for the T.W. Martin Warriors.

Martin, with only 14 players (including two 8th graders) dressed out for the game, went to Vina to pick up a 20-6 victory to snap a 22-game losing streak for the Warriors. Vina, who was also on a long losing streak, had a roster of 27 players.

Bo Trotter, with 104 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries, was the first Warriors player in three seasons with a 100-yard game. Martin coach Brandon Millican picked up his first career win and the week after shaved his head thanks to a promise he had made to his players if they earned the victory.

5. Jasper 10, Central-Clay 7
Sept. 28, 2018

Since one of my cohorts already selected the 2019 game between these two teams, I’ll take the 2018 game.

Jasper was the unproven group against the traditionally powerful Central-Clay. A muddy field at Ki-Ro Gambrell made it a tough night for offenses, but the Vikings earned a statement win.

Quarterback Michael Crear led the Vikings on offense by throwing for 196 yards on 20-of-35 passing and running for 123 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. He also had Jasper’s only touchdown in the game with a 75-yard run. Michael Herron proved to be the hero by kicking a 35-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to give the Vikings a 10-7 win