Maplesville drops defensive showcase to Loachapoka

Published 11:21 am Friday, October 20, 2023

By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

In a game where the victor gets the spoils, Loachapoka High School beat Maplesville High School in a defensive slugfest 12-6 on Oct. 19 to win the AHSAA Class 1A Region 4 title.

The loss broke Maplesville’s three-year run of winning their respective region championship. The Red Devils still remain in second place, securing a home playoff game in the first round of the state playoffs.

“We explained to them going in about these types of games. It is two good teams going at it, we knew it would be low-scoring and win or lose, it is what you do,” Maplesville head coach Brad Abbott said. “Championship games are supposed to be like that, and just because you are on the losing end does not mean you are lesser or anything like that.”

The game was very clean with few penalties and no turnovers, and the teams played to no score after the first quarter. In the second frame, Maplesville was able to find the end zone as quarterback Bradlee Padgett connected with Aidan Abbott for a 24-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion attempt was no good, and the Red Devils held a 6-0 lead.

Padgett was 6-for-13 for 75 yards and a touchdown, and Abbott caught two passes for 30 yards and a touchdown. Johnathon Wilson also grabbed two catches for Maplesville for 27 yards.

Loachapoka responded quickly, getting into Maplesville territory and punching in a 16-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 6-6 after its failed two-point conversion.

Only 275 total yards were accumulated by the two teams in the game — 155 for Loachapoka and 120 for Maplesville. However, the Indians out rushed Maplesville 142-45, controlling the time of possession 33:15 to 20:02 and keeping the Red Devils’ offense on the sidelines.

Nehemiah McCary led the Red Devils in rushing with 52 yards on 15 carries.

“I thought both teams deserved to win the way they played, and I think the difference maker was they were just better with their speed on the perimeter,” Abbott said. “For the most part, we did a good job containing them out there, but every once in a while, they would get that big run on the edge. That ended up being the touchdown they needed to seal the deal.”

Both defenses continued to shine in the third quarter with no score. In the fourth quarter, Loachapoka was able to break the stalemate with a short touchdown run to the edge that put them on top 12-6. With points at a premium, the game ended there as Maplesville could not respond late.

On defense, Ensign Payne was the leading tackle for Maplesville with seven and a half, followed by Darrin Elliot and Wilson with seven each. Colby Michell contributed six and a half tackles with a sack.

“The mistakes we made, we already know the answer to those because those mistakes are expected. You just hate they happened at those certain times,” Abbott said. “We had not been in that type of game all year … This was one that was up and down, and you had to stay with it the whole time. In the end, we learned more positives about our team like how together they are and they can handle (a game like that). We learned a lot of good things about them last night.”

Maplesville (5-3) finishes its Area 7 slate in their next matchup on Oct. 27 against cross-county rival Verbena High School. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.