By Barry Allen
Special to The Dispatch
REFORM – What a difference a week makes.
Pickens County opened the 2013 season with a hard-fought 18-13 win over Fayette County Tigers, who finished runner up in the 2012 Alabama High School Athletic Association Super Six played at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium.
This week, the Tornadoes open Region 4 play against the South Lamar Stallions, a team that has lost 12 straight games, dating back to the 2011 season.
In the win over Fayette County, senior quarterback Devonte Simon threw for 159 yards and one touchdown against the Class 3A Tigers. His twin brother, Deonte, added seven catches including a touchdown reception in the victory. Jamarcus Brown scored two touchdowns, including the game-winning 22-yard touchdown run in the final minute.
“It was a tough environment against a really good football team and out kids responded well,” Pickens County head coach Patrick Plott said. “This was a really good win and one that will help us down the road.”
Plott said the win over powerhouse Fayette County gives his team confidence moving forward, but he said his Tornadoes have room for improvement.
“We made a lot of mistakes, but our senior leadership helped us win the game,” Plott added. “We need to be better on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. We also had seven dropped passes in the game. We need to get those things corrected.”
The Tornadoes now turn their attention to the region opener against team that has lost 12 straight games and 21 of its last 22 games dating back to the 2010 season.
“We need to play our game and do the things that we need to do to improve,” Plott said. “We can’t get caught up in the other stuff. We are playing a team that is hungry for win and we know we are going to get the best effort.”
South Lamar has lost all 11 games under first-year head coach Shannon McGregory, who took over the program on July 1. He is the third head coach in the last three years.
“It’s a little challenging when you come in that late because you’ve got to get to know your players and the other coaches and they have to get to know you,” McGregory said. “We are getting there. We are working hard and we have shown improvement.”
His region opener will be a tall order, facing one of the state’s most dynamic offenses. The Tornadoes scored a school record 588 points in 14 games last season. In the previous two seasons under Plott, the Tornadoes have scored 40 or more points in 18 of 27 games.
Week One Rewind:
n Senior Josh Lewis topped the century mark on the ground and in the air as Pickens Academy downed Sparta Academy 24-8 in the season opener for both AISA teams last weekend. Lewis completed 10-of-15 passes for 192 yards and added two touchdowns. On the ground he had 14 attempts for 116 yards, including a 60-yard touchdown run. He accounted for 308 yards in total offense and three touchdowns in leading the Pirates to the win. He also recovered one fumble on defense.
n Lamar County began the season with a lopsided 41-0 win over rival South Lamar. Alex Wheeler was the star for the Bulldogs with 133 rushing yards and three touchdowns in the win. South Lamar has lost 12 straight games dating back to the 2011 season.
n Pickens County won a defensive-minded game against Class 3A Fayette County to open the 2013 season. The 18-13 victory marked the third-lowest point total for the Tornadoes in the Patrick Plott’s tenure as head coach. Pickens County was held to 13 points in a 14-13 loss to rival Gordo to end the 2012 regular season. The Tornadoes posted a 14-12 win over Brantley in the Class 1A state playoffs in 2011.
n Freshman quarterback Santiago Taylor shined in Aliceville’s 42-26 loss to rival Gordo last Friday night. Taylor, who took snaps at quarterback last year as an eighth grader, threw for 220 yards and four touchdowns for the Yellow Jackets.
n Sulligent managed just 169 total yards in last week’s 42-0 loss to Hamilton. Things do not get easier this week as the Blue Devils open region play against Cold Springs, one of the state’s top rushing units. Cold Springs boasts the reigning Alabama High School Athletic Association Player of the Week as quarterback Logan Campbell rushed for 214 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s 34-0 win over Decatur Heritage. He had three more touchdowns (two rushing TDs and interception returned) nullified by penalties. Campbell averaged more than 30 yards on seven rushing attempts.