Maplesville football advances to state title game

Published 3:38 pm Monday, November 28, 2016

Nathaniel Watson and Terence Dunlap celebrate a Maplesville touchdown against Linden. (Photos by Brandon Sumrall/Special)

Nathaniel Watson and Terence Dunlap celebrate a Maplesville touchdown against Linden. (Photos by Brandon Sumrall/Special)

By Brandon Sumrall


A senior class that has reached the big game each and every year of their varsity career will once again get the chance to bring home yet another state championship for the Maplesville Red Devils.

As the top ranked Red Devils squared off on Friday night in a semifinal game against the second ranked Linden Patriots, a trip to Jordan Hare Stadium was on the line along with a forth-consecutive appearance in the 1A State Championship Game for the Red Devils.

In what was the toughest test of the season thus far for the Red Devils, turnovers put Maplesville in an early deficit and kept the Patriots in the game on a couple of occasions.

The turnover bug struck the Red Devils early on as a muffed reception of the opening kickoff pulled in by a Linden defender and set the Patriots up deep inside Maplesville territory. Four plays later the two-time defending 1A champs found themselves in an early 7-0 deficit.

The Red Devils’ opening drive would be of no help as a drive ending punt would turn the ball back over to the Patriots but with a second and ten from their own two yard line, the Maplesville defense would come up with a run stuffing safety to make the score 7-2.

Nathaniel Watson fielded the ensuing kickoff at his own 26-yard line and plowed and drug Patriot defenders on his way to the Linden 1-yard line were one play later Terrence Dunlap would give Maplesville a 9-7 lead.

Both squads defense would prove that this game would be no easy matter for either team as a number of scoreless drives would ensue before the Red Devils found pay dirt again as Thomas Schooner would connect with Watson for a 49-yard touchdown pass to put the Red Devils up 16-7.

A third and eleven pass play for the Patriots from the Maplesville twenty-four yard line would fall into the hands of Dunlap and set the Red Devils up at their own three yard line with 2:13 to play in the second. Two Red Devil first downs later and a second and 15 from their own 36 yard line saw a rushed pass attempt fall into the hands of a Linden defender who would complete the pick six to cut the Maplesville lead to 16-14 at the half.

Schooner and Watson would meet again with 4:35 to play in the third, this time for 66 yards and another Maplesville touchdown to put the Red Devils up 23-14.

Chaz Morris out leaps a Linden receiver to break up a pass attempt.

Chaz Morris out leaps a Linden receiver to break up a pass attempt.

Watson continued his touchdown party with another long touchdown run on the Red Devils next possession with a 42-yard touchdown run that would extend the Maplesville lead to 29-14.

With their defense snuffing out the Patriot offense the Maplesville offense would deliver the proverbial nail in the coffin with 6:22 to play when Dunlap went in from 12 yards out to bring the game to its final score of 36-14 and punched a ticket to Jordan Hare for the Red Devils appearance in their fourth straight 1A Championship game.

“The defense done a great job the entire night and held them to one touchdown. Our offense struggled at times, we knew that they were going to pose us some problems and do some things, but we challenged them in the dressing room to get behind that heart and to play with heart and you will get it done,” said Red Devils Coach Brent Hubbert.

Watson led the Red Devil offense with 281 all-purpose yards. He finished with 73 yards on kickoff returns, 72 yards rushing with one touchdown, and three receptions for 136 yards and two touchdowns.

The Red Devils will make a trip to Jordan Hare Stadium this Thursday for a 3 p.m. rematch with the team that spoiled the first of their four straight 1A Championship Game appearances, the Pickens County Tornados.