Bob Jones (7-4, 6-1 in Class 7A,
Region 4/second place)
Bob Jones failed to convert touchdowns on multiple red zone opportunities and fell short of Mountain Brook 23-22 on Friday in the first round of the Class 7A state playoffs.
The Patriots reached the Mountain Brook 8-yard line twice and the 12 once and each possession resulted in Jacob Fruewald field goals. However, Bob Jones got two rushing scores from Khalil Griffin and led 19-10 in the third quarter.
Mountain Brook responded with A.J. Gates’ 80-yard burst with 3:57 remaining in the third quarter and Hamp Sisson’s 5-yard run with 7:37 left in regulation that gave the Spartans the lead for good.
Caden Rose threw for 258 yards and rushed for 65 more in the loss. Demontrez Brown’s Patriots career ended with nine catches for 107 yards.
Bob Jones overcame an 0-2 start to the regular season with seven wins in eight games to claim the second seed from Region 4. The Patriots beat local rivals James Clemens and Sparkman.
Bob Jones finished 3-3 at home and 4-1 on the road. The team scored a season-high 55 points in beating Florence, shut out Grissom and defeated Gadsden City by 31 points for the Patriots’ largest winning margin of the season. Bob Jones outscored its opponents 310-251 in 11 games.
Sparkman (7-4, 5-2 in Class 7A, Region 4/third place)
Sparkman’s resurgent season resulted in a return to the playoffs for the first time since 2006. That year was also the team’s last winning season and last time ranked in the ASWA top 10. Senators were ranked tenth after weeks seven through 10 in 2017.
First-year Sparkman coach Laron White left Tanner after 14 years, two state championships and nine region titles and built on Sparkman’s previous two seasons. The team’s four wins apiece in 2015 and 2016 marked the Senators’ best outcomes since 2006. Sparkman finished one game shy of a playoff berth in 2016 (3-4 in the region, fifth place).
Sparkman traveled to perennial football power Hoover in the first round of the Class 7A state playoffs and lost 49-7. The Buccaneers jumped ahead 28-0 in the first half.
Despite the loss, Hunter Gibson provided Sparkman with another huge rushing performance with 139 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries. Chris Joiner added 47 yards on the ground.
Sparkman’s defense had been the team’s strongest unit during much of the season but yielded a season-high 49 points to Hoover.
Sparkman finished 4-1 at home and 3-3 on the road. The Senators’ season-opening win over Athens produced the team’s highest scoring output (48) and largest margin of victory (37 points). The six points yielded to James Clemens were the fewest allowed in a game by Sparkman in 2017. The Senators scored 287 points and allowed 219 in 11 games.
Madison Academy (7-4, 5-1 in Class 4A, Region 7/second place)
For the sixth straight season Madison Academy finished with at least a share of first place in its region.
However, the Mustangs’ streak of region titles ended at five. Sardis claimed the top seed from the region entering the Class 4A state playoffs due to its 18-17 win over visiting Madison Academy in Week 3 of the regular season.
Madison Academy’s seven wins were bookended with two two-game losing streaks. Losses to McCallie (Tenn.) and Sardis preceded the Mustangs’ winning streak. A setback at Class 5A, No. 1 Briarwood Christian in the regular season finale and a first-round defeat by Hokes Bluff in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs ended the 2017 campaign.
In the postseason opener, Madison Academy played from behind as ninth-ranked Hokes Bluff led 6-0 entering the fourth quarter. Sean Dorney kicked a 29-yard field goal at the 11:04 mark of the fourth quarter but Hokes Bluff tacked on quarterback Landon Johnson’s second rushing touchdown of the game to extend to a 12-3 advantage.
The Mustangs pulled within 12-10 with a 2-yard scoring run by Jaylin Brackett to cap the game’s scoring.
Alex Carpenter led Madison Academy with 78 yards rushing and Luke Nail threw for 154 yards.
Seven wins are the fewest in a season by Madison Academy since a 6-4 finish in 2008, the last time the team failed to reach the playoffs. Before the loss to Hokes Bluff, the last time Madison Academy participated in postseason play and did not advance past the first round was 2007 (lost to Leeds 42-7).
The Mustangs’ 52-0 win over Haleyville on Oct. 6 resulted in Madison Academy’s most points scored, fewest points allowed and largest winning margin of any other game in 2017. Madison Academy outscored its opponents 317-151 in 11 contests.