Memorable performance for CCHS senior Rossi

Published 9:11 pm Thursday, November 15, 2012

It’s arguable that one of the finest displays of “leading by example” in recent memory was put on by Chilton County’s Austin Rossi last week in the Tigers’ 33-27 three-overtime thriller over Saraland in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.

To say Rossi, The Clanton Advertiser’s Player of the Week, was in the right place at the right time, every time, is almost an understatement. He scored the first touchdown of overtime on a misdirection run. In the second overtime, he made a leaping block of an extra point, then caught the game-winning touchdown.

What makes all of this even more impressive is that he did all of it with little-to-no use of his right hand. He broke it earlier in the season against Sylagauga, and has been playing in a cast following surgery since, failing to miss a single game.

“Austin’s been making plays for us all year,” said head coach Donnie Hand. “The last few games he hasn’t done as much on offense because of his hand. With a cast on it has been tough to catch the ball.”

While he has to take it easy on offense, Hand said he’s done the opposite on the other side of the ball; he’s the Tigers’ second leading tackler, and the leader of their tough defense, averaging 11.6 tackles a game.

“He is our quarterback on defense,” said Hand. “His job is to make sure everyone is lined up. He’s been doing it all year, he just stood out more against Saraland.”

His impression has been made on the defense all year, but it was his receiving that made the crowd at Tiger Stadium take notice Friday. He holds the distinction of catching the game-winning touchdown pass not once, but twice in the same game.

After Rossi pulled in the toss originally, CCHS’s touchdown was negated on a holding call. So, Hand made the call to go right back to Rossi—with the exact same play.

“Even with the cast on his hand,” he said. “I knew if Austin could get the defender on his back and Chance could put the ball anywhere close, Austin was going to catch it.”