Meek prevails in Class 1A program showcase

Published 11:12 am Saturday, August 26, 2023

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By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

Two of the winningest AHSAA Class 1A programs of the last decade clashed at Maplesville High School on Aug. 26 as the Red Devils took on Meek High School. Maplesville fell 18-12, making it the second consecutive season they began their campaign with a close loss to Meek.

“They did play hard, but we have a lot of growing up to do with some of the self-inflicted wounds (against Meek), but with a young team like we have you kind of expect that,” Maplesville head coach Brad Abbott said. “They never quit, they kept fighting and we had a lot of things not go our way last night. We need that stuff to go our way to be another top team this year.”

Maplesville’s Jay LaGrone broke open the scoring in the first quarter punching it into the end zone on the ground to put the Red Devils up 6-0. LaGrone was the leading rusher for Maplesville with 64 yards on 16 carries and the score.

The score held steady there until late in the second quarter when Meek tied the game with a 17-yard touchdown run and sent the game to halftime in a 6-6 stalemate.

Meek took its first lead of the game late in the third quarter with another touchdown run, this one from five yards out to go up 12-6 after three quarters.

With two minutes left in the game, the Red Devils got the ball back with a chance to tie or take the lead. However, quarterback Bradlee Padgett was picked off and it was returned 45 yards for a touchdown by Meek to extend their lead to 18-6. Meek was able to contain Maplesville’s offense and kept Padgett out of sync intercepting him twice in the game. Padgett was 10-for-18 for 74 yards.

Aidan Abbott was Padgett’s favorite target hauling in three catches for 65 yards. He grabbed a late touchdown catch from Pearce Yeargan to cut the lead down to 18-12. Maplesville did not recover the ensuing onside kick and Meek held on for the win.

Brad Abbott commented after the game about the importance of scheduling tough, non-region opponents in preparation for the crucial region slate later in the season.

“It is big for getting us ready for region play, and for us we get to play two great programs in Meek and Isabella to begin the season,” Brad Abbott said. “You know what your guys are made out of after those two games, and you do not have a lot of questions about if or can they do it. It is good competition, and that shows that in them.”

Cade Smith had eight tackles and pulled down an interception to lead the Red Devils’ defense.

Maplesville (0-1) continues its four-game homestand to begin the 2023 season in its next matchup hosting local rival Isabella High School on Sept. 1.

“It is an exciting game … A game that is exciting for the kids because they know each other,” Brad Abbott said. “In the end, I know coach (Tate) Leonard feels the same way, this game is just to get ready for the region schedule. We have an opportunity to play and help each other get ready for what we are about to face when region play gets started. It is a fun game, definitely.”

Kickoff between Maplesville and Isabella is scheduled for 7 p.m.