Sports year in review, Part 2

Published 12:10 pm Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Maplesville High School football team celebrates winning the AHSAA Class 1A football state championship on Dec. 4.

The Maplesville High School football team celebrates winning the AHSAA Class 1A football state championship on Dec. 4.


Editor’s note: Below is the second part of a two-part series looking back at the top sports stories of 2014. This installment covers July through December.


County athletes take part in all-star games

Two Maplesville High School students played in the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s North-South all-star games.

Amber Uptain, a senior at MHS, competed in the all-star basketball game on July 23, in Montgomery, alongside MHS coach Eric Bailey, who helped coach the South team.

Damian Mitchell, a recent graduate of MHS, played as a receiver for the South team in the all-star football game at the Cramton Bowl on July 24 in Montgomery.

Mitchell said the experience, and chance to put on his Red Devils helmet one more time, was “priceless.”

“It felt like it was a championship game because of the crowd and the atmosphere,” Mitchell said. “The whole town of Maplesville was really supportive, and I’m glad I got to represent our small town.”

Mitchell represented the South well, as he caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from Daphne quarterback Lane Moss in the second offensive play of the game.

Randy Satterfield of Jemison was also chosen to play in the North-South all-star football game, but was unable to, because of a time conflict with a football camp.


Chilton County shuts out rival Jemison

Chilton County High School’s defense pitched a shut out, and senior quarterback Anthony Chavez passed for 267 yards and four touchdowns, in a 33-0 win over rival Jemison on Aug. 28.

The CCHS win avenges last season’s double-overtime loss and keeps Jemison from winning two in a row in the series since 2003, when the Panthers won their sixth straight.

First-year CCHS coach Brian Bradford won in his first try against the school’s biggest rival.

“Jemison has a great football team, a great defense,” Bradford said in praising the play of his offensive line. “They were bringing pressure from everywhere, and they stood in there and took the pressure because we threw the ball more than we probably ever have before. They did a good job of holding that and giving us time.”

Caton wins Division at Montgomery Motor Speedway

Justin Caton won the Open Sportsman Division Championship at the Montgomery Motor Speedway.

Caton said it was the first championship for him as a driver, and for his father, Allen Caton, as a car owner.

Justin Caton celebrates winning the Open Sportsman Division Championship at the Montgomery Motor Speedway in August.

Justin Caton celebrates winning the Open Sportsman Division Championship at the Montgomery Motor Speedway in August.

The championship will help the Catons because part of the prize is a new racecar body.

Justin Caton was recognized at a banquet in November.

With three wins during the season, which started in the spring and lasted through the summer, and no finish worse than fourth, Caton went into the last race of the season, in August, with enough points so that he only needed to start the race to win the championship.

“This is our hobby,” Justin Caton said about himself and his father. “My dad does all the work on the race car, and a lot of times I can’t get over there to help. It wouldn’t be possible for me to do it without his help. He’s the crew chief, the tire changer—everything. The very first race we won, it was just me and him.”


Thorsby student wins Ala. BMX Championship Title

Warren Lee, a Thorsby High School seventh grader, raced his way to earn the 2014 Alabama BMX Championship Title in the 12-year-old Expert class the weekend of Sept. 20.

Also, Lee is the defending district champion and currently holds first place among all BMX racers in the district.

Lee has been racing since he was 7. In 2012, he was asked to join Clayborn Bicycles Factory Racing Team, where he is sponsored by Clayborn Bicycles, Robinson’s Fruitshoot, Fastenal, Profile Racing, Fly Racing, Answer, WARRCO, and HRPdesigns.

Lee competes individually and represents his team across the country racing at national events. In October, he competed at the Disney Cup/Fall Nationals in Orlando, Fla. He completed his 2014 national racing season in Tulsa, Okla. on Thanksgiving weekend, competing in the 2014 Race of Champions and 2014 USABMX Grand Nationals.

Lee trains daily at home and at Fountain City BMX racing track in Prattville, where he is coached by international BMX racing coach Jaime Nieto-Gonzalez.


Billingsley, Isabella battle for first place in region

Billingsley claimed the top spot in Class 1A, Region 3 with a gritty 20-16 win at Isabella on Oct. 3.

The two teams came into the game unbeaten in area play.

An IHS miscue—touching a punt and allowing Billingsley to recover—resulted in the Bears taking a 14-10 lead on a 12-yard run by Nichols.

Jaytarius Steele ended any hopes of an Isabella comeback when he intercepted a pass and ran it back for a touchdown.

Still, the Mustangs wouldn’t go down without a fight, as Tyler Smith led the offense down the field for the game’s last score, a quarterback keeper, with less than a minute left in the game.

The ensuing onside kick went out of bounds, and BHS ran out the clock.

Mustangs win fifth consecutive county volleyball championship

Isabella’s dominance of the local volleyball scene continued Oct. 10 as the Mustangs won their fifth consecutive Chilton County Volleyball Tournament championship.

Isabella defeated Jemison, 2-0 (25-20, 25-19) in the championship match.

Isabella’s volleyball team made an appearance at the AHSAA state volleyball tournament on Oct. 29.

Isabella’s volleyball team made an appearance at the AHSAA state volleyball tournament on Oct. 29.

Coach Glen Graham said the county title is a goal Isabella teams set each season.

“It’s always an honor,” he said. “It just shows that when you work hard and you do things right, you get rewarded for it.”

Isabella’s junior varsity squad also won its fifth consecutive county title, while the school’s junior high team has won both of the county tournaments, including this year’s, that have been held for that level.

Mustangs, Bears win area volleyball tournament championships

Fresh off a regular season area championship one week ago, Isabella’s varsity volleyball team claimed an area tournament championship Oct. 20 with a 3-1 win over Akron.

As the No. 1 seed and host of the tournament, the Mustangs got to play the role of spectator as the Rams knocked off Maplesville in straight sets to set up the championship match.

Kacie Adams, the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, led the Mustangs with 18 assists, eight kills, two blocks, five digs and an ace.

Booth added 20 digs with two aces, while Robinson had 15 kills, six blocks and four digs for Isabella.

Billingsley also advanced to the Super Regional round of the playoffs by winning the Class 1A, Area 5 tournament.

The Bears, playing at home as the tournament’s top seed, defeated Autaugaville, 3-1.

Mustangs ousted in first round of state volleyball tournament

The Isabella volleyball program is no stranger to the state volleyball tournament.

Not a single member of this year’s group of Mustangs, however, had been there before.

Isabella took on Decatur Heritage Oct. 29 at Birmingham CrossPlex to begin its 10th Class 1A state tournament appearance under coach Glen Graham. It marked the program’s first appearance since 2011.

The Mustangs defeated J.U. Blacksher (25-10, 25-10, 25-15), Millry (25-8, 25-4, 25-15) and Kinston (25-22, 22-25, 25-12, 25-23) before losing to Pleasant Home (16-25, 25-15, 25-21, 20-25, 15-10) in the championship match of the area tournament.

It wasn’t the result hoped for at the state tournament, as the squad put up a gallant effort, but fell in three sets to the Eagles.

In the opener, the Mustangs dropped a 25-13 contest, whereas in the second the squad fell 25-17.

Facing elimination, the Mustangs came out swinging. Unfortunately, the Eagles outlasted IHS, 25-20.


Thorsby football returns to playoffs

Thorsby’s season came to an end with a Nov. 7 46-20 loss to Leroy in the first round of the Class 2A state playoffs, but even after the final seconds ticked off the clock, there was more pride on the Rebels sideline that disappointment.

Minutes after the end of the game, coach Billy Jackson congratulated, hugged and took pictures with the team’s seniors, a group that posted a 7-4 record and earned Thorsby its first playoff berth since 2010.

The seven wins this season were more than in the three previous years combined (four).

Instead of a letdown, the Nov. 7 game at Susan Bentley Field felt more like the laying of a foundation for more successful seasons.

Jackson smiled, and some of the players shed tears, as the coach told them he was proud of what they accomplished.

“We’ve come a long way,” Jackson said. “We’ve been through some tough times.”

Billingsley, Maplesville square off for title game appearance

Billingsley’s Jaytarius Steele crossed the goal line with 7 seconds left to play Nov. 28 to end a long and perplexing streak against rival Maplesville.

Unfortunately for Steele and his teammates, the streak that came to an end was not the losing streak that grew to 12 games with Maplesville’s win Friday.

Instead, Steele’s run marked the first time Billingsley had scored against MHS since 2008. It wasn’t nearly enough, as by the time of Billingsley’s long overdue touchdown, Maplesville had put 33 points on the Mims Field scoreboard.

With the 33-8 win, the Red Devils (13-0) advanced to the Class 1A state championship for the second straight year.


Maplesville wins football state title

After a disappointing loss to Pickens County in the AHSAA Class 1A State Championship in 2013, the Maplesville Red Devils had one goal in 2014: Finish.

And did they ever, absolutely dominating the Hubbertville Lions (14-1) in a 49-0 shellacking at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn on Dec. 4.

The Devils won every battle on the field, starting with the coin toss, which they deferred possession to the Lions.

“We’re just happy,” head coach Brent Hubbert said. “We’re happy we could come perform at a high level. These kids played hard all year, and I’m excited they got to (win) on the greatest stage.”

Hubbard also spoke highly of his defense, which recorded its seventh shut out of the season with the win.

“They play like this all the time,” he said. “They’re fast, they’re aggressive and they’ve played like that from the very start, and I’m excited to have a bunch of them back this year.”

Junior Corey Hall said he felt the win was as important to the town as the team.

“It’s a great experience,” he said. “I believe we brought joy to our community. It’s been a long journey for us.”

Terence Dunlap, who was also named the game MVP, recorded 241 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Spencer finished 4-of-7 passing for 106 yards and touchdown. Wallace led all receivers with 51 yards.

On defense, Corey Hall and Nathaniel Watson recorded seven solo tackles, while Hall and Tyler Armstrong had two tackles for loss.

The Red Devils finished a perfect 15-0 on the season with the win.