By Stan J. Griffin: December 8, 2015

Photos by Stan J. Griffin

As Fayette County High School football coach Lance Tucker, as welll as a couple of his players, arrived in the media room following the Tigers' 55-7 loss to Leeds in the Class 4A Championship Game this past Friday, there were no hung heads or tears from the trio as it prepared to discuss the defeat that ended Fayette County's sterling 10-5 season.
Any suspense regarding the game's outcome had been removed fairly early, and it was hardly a surprise that Keith Etheridge's Greenwave was able to claim another blue state championship trophy. Leeds has become quite the dynasty during the past four or five years, and Tucker rightfully noted that this year's edition of the Greenwave might classify as one of the best teams of all-time relative to the Class 4A ranks.
Instead of speaking about the pain of the defeat which ended the Tigers' championship aspirations, Tucker chose to focus on the positive.
He spoke glowingly about his own team, noting that it was a group of winners no matter what color trophy it wound up collecting at Bryant-Denny Stadium, and how great of an opportunity it was for the Fayette County High School team, and really for that fine community of Fayette overall, to be able to participate in the Super 7.
Tucker, the former University of Alabama quarterback, had a noticeable twinkle in his eye as he spoke of the pride he felt in bringing his team into the revered football cathedral where he once suited up in crimson and white.
He was classy in his remarks about his opponent, and actually very effusive in his praise of a Greenwave team that claimed state title supremacy for a second year in a row.
Of course Tucker, his coaches and his players have much to be proud of as it was yet another phenomenal season for a tradition-rich Tiger program.
While his team was solid all season long in putting together a 6-4 regular season, Fayette County really stepped it up a notch during the postseason, gaining wins against quality opponents such as Cleburne County and Brooks and earning its appearance to Bryant-Denny with a stunning 32-0 road victory against Class 4A Region 5 rival Cordova.

Courtesy of Crimson Magazine

By Stan J. Griffin: December 7, 2015

One of the main leaders of the No. 2, Southeastern Conference champion and playoff-bound Alabama football team is officially a candidate for the most prestigious award in college football.
Junior running back Derrick Henry is one of three finalists for the 2015 Heisman Memorial Trophy, which was announced Monday evening on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
The Yulee, Fla. native will be joined by quarterback Deshaun Watson (Clemson) and running back Christian McCaffrey (Stanford) in New York City on Saturday as finalists. The 81st Heisman Trophy will be presented at the Best Buy Theatre in New York City on Saturday, December 12.
The event will be broadcast live by ESPN from 7-8 p.m. (CT).   
"It is a very special honor for me to be selected as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy," Henry said following the announcement Monday evening. "First, I want to thank God for blessing me with his opportunity. The Heisman Trophy has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid and the chance to go to New York as a finalist is amazing, but none of this would be possible without my coaches and teammates. The offensive line, the quarterback, wide receivers and tight ends have done an unbelievable job all season and our coaches always put us in a position to be successful."

By Stan J. Griffin: December 7, 2015

Photos by Stan J. Griffin

Heading into this past Friday's Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 4A state championship game, Fayette County High School head coach Lance Tucker noted that he felt his team was a group of winners, whether it was able to collect the blue state title trophy at the Super 7 or the red trophy designating runner-up status.
And entering the title tilt against defending champion Leeds at Bryant-Denny Stadium, the Tigers certainly appeared to have peaked at just the right time, with a 4-0 playoff run that included a convincing 32-0 victory on the road against Class 4A Region 5 champ Cordova in the semifinal round.
Unfortunately for Tucker's team, a slow start, and a prolific performance by senior Greenwave tailback Trey Nation was too much to overcome as Leeds rolled to the 55-7 win and another state title for Keith Etheridge's squad.
Fayette County finished a superb season at 10-5 while the victorious Leeds team finished 13-2.
Nation, the game's Most Valuable Player, carried the ball 27 times for 186 yards, while also breaking Class 4A championship game records with five rushing touchdowns and 30 total points.
He led a Leeds attack which tallied 23 first downs and amassed 463 total offensive yards, while the swarming Greenwave defense held the Tigers to 155 total yards.
In the end, after first expressing pride in his own team for its postseason march to Bryant-Denny Stadium, the place where he once suited up in crimson and white as a University of Alabama quarterback, and praising the heart and grit of Tigers such as senior quarterback Drew Guy among others, Tucker was effusive in his praise for the Greenwave juggernaut.

Courtesy of Crimson Magazine

By Stan J. Griffin: December 6, 2015

The No. 2 Alabama football team, which claimed its second-straight Southeastern Conference title on Saturday by defeating Florida, now has a matchup set with the Big 10 champions.
On Sunday morning, it was announced that the Top 4 teams in the final College Football Playoff poll were Clemson, Alabama, Michigan State and Oklahoma.
This means that Nick Saban's 12-1 Crimson Tide team will face Mark Dantonio's 12-1 Michigan State Spartans, which gained the Big 10 title Saturday with a pulsating 16-13 win over Iowa in the Big 10 Championship Game.
"We know what kind of physical, tough teams they have at Michigan State, and it will be a real challenge for our team,” said Saban on the matchup with the Spartans
Alabama and Michigan State will face each other on Dec. 31 at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium while Clemson and Oklahoma will face off on that same date in the Capital One Orange Bowl.
“We now have the full body of work to evaluate all of the teams,” said selection chairman Jeff Long in a press release.  “The committee viewed Clemson and Alabama as clear-cut.  We had a lengthy discussion about Michigan State and Oklahoma.  The committee saw those two teams as very closely matched.  They are both conference champions and both 4-0 against top 25 teams.  Ultimately Michigan State’s two wins against top ten teams gave them the edge.”
"Well, it's certainly a privilege for us to be in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl and stay in the College Playoff," said Saban. "I'm really proud of our team. We lost early in the season and responded well and improved throughout the season. I know our players are excited about the opportunity that they have to play a very, very good Michigan State team that has had good wins this year over Michigan, Ohio State, Oregon, Iowa. Really, really -- Mark has done a fabulous job. And I got to see that 22-play drive last night, and it was pretty awesome. I was rooting for the Spartans after being there for 10 years myself and rooting for my former assistant Mark. And glad they came out on top. And certainly going to be a huge challenge for us to play against a great quarterback like Connor Cook, and we're certainly looking forward to coming to Cotton Bowl."

Courtesy of DCM Fan Zone

By Erik Stinnett

He's been called a machine. As he powered his way into the history books last Saturday at Auburn, Derrick Henry looked every bit of that description.

Prior to last Saturday, only two running backs in the SEC have ever rushed for 200-plus yards four times in one season. Two guys you might be familiar with. Herschel Walker. And Bo Jackson. Well, now there's three. Add Henry to that super short list.
 
And the way Henry accomplished that feat Saturday was just as impressive.

By Stan J. Griffin: December 1, 2015:

Photos by Ron Harris of Daily Mountain Eagle (Jasper)

Back in late October, in their final regular-season football game of the 2015 season, Lance Tucker's Fayette County High School Tigers dropped a 20-18 decision to Class 4A Region 5 rival Cordova, costing them an opportunity to claim the region crown.
Little did the Tigers know at that time that they would get a rematch with the Blue Devils, with even higher stakes coming into play.
That was indeed the scenario which materialized at Cordova High School last Friday night as the 13-0 host Blue Devils hosted the 9-4 Tigers in the Class 4A semifinals, with a shot at the Super 7 state championships at Bryant-Denny Stadium on the line.
And although the matchup was identical to that Oct. 23 showdown between Cordova and Fayette County, it proved to be the only similarity as Tucker's squad improved to 10-4 on the season, romping past the Blue Devils 32-0 to earn its rightful appearance at the University of Alabama's tradition-rich football cathedral and a shot at the Class 4A state title.
It will not be easy for Drew Guy, Kondarius Wilson, Mario Wilson, Kerieq Sparks and company, however, as they face another formidable task in Friday's 11 a.m. title tilt.
The Tigers will battle Keith Etheridge's 12-2 Leeds Greenwave, the defending state champions.

Leeds enters the title game coming off a 48-20 semifinal win over Munford.
Fayette will make its first appearance in the state finals since 2012.
Against No. 2 Cordova, the Tigers dominated early and often against the home team, leading 6-0 after the first quarter, and seeing that advantage balloon to 20-0 by halftime.

Courtesy of Crimson Magazine

After a big win against the 23rd ranked Wichita State Shockers on Friday, the Tide will be looking at what is likely an even bigger task this evening against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish that won 32 games last year.

Gone from that team are a 1st and 2nd round draft pick in the NBA draft, but senior big man Zach Auguste and junior guards Demetrius Jackson are leading the way for a Fighting Irish squad that expects to be a force again this year.

The 2015-16 edition of the Crimson Tide has shown the consistent ability to play scrappy, but they will need to find a way to compete on the boards and shoot the ball well to make a resounding statement by upsetting another out of conference top 25 team after doing it for the first time since 2009 on Friday.

 

NOTRE DAME:

Player GP MIN PPG RPG APG SPG BPG TPG FG% FT% 3P%
Demetrius Jackson 5 34.0 18.8 3.8 4.2 0.8 0.2 1.4 .569 .667 .364
V.J. Beachem 5 33.2 12.4 6.4 1.4 0.8 0.2 0.8 .434 .200 .429
Steve Vasturia 5 33.0 11.6 3.6 2.0 0.8 0.0 2.2 .457 .643 .318
Zach Auguste 5 27.0 13.4 10.8 2.6 1.2 1.0 2.6 .549 .611 .000
Bonzie Colson 5 23.6 9.4 7.4 1.2 0.8 1.0 0.6 .469 .750 .333
Matt Farrell 5 17.0 2.0 1.6 1.2 0.0 0.0 0.8 .231 1.000 .222
Matt Ryan 5 17.0 6.2 1.6 1.0 0.4 0.0 0.2 .417 .750 .364
Rex Pflueger 3 6.3 2.0 1.0 0.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 .400 .000 .667
Martinas Geben 3 6.0 2.0 1.3 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.3 .000 1.000 .000
Austin Burgett 3 5.3 3.0 1.3 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.0 .400 1.000 .333
Austin Torres 4 5.3 0.5 1.3 0.3 1.0 0.8 0.5 .000 1.000 .000
Matt Gregory 2 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 .000 .000 .000
Totals 5 -- 78 41 14 6 3 9 .467 .699 .366

 

ALABAMA:

Player GP MIN PPG RPG APG SPG BPG TPG FG% FT% 3P%
Dazon Ingram 5 27.4 9.0 7.0 3.4 1.6 0.4 3.4 .531 .611 .000
Shannon Hale 5 26.8 12.6 3.0 0.4 0.2 0.4 3.4 .420 .750 .450
Retin Obasohan 5 24.8 10.2 1.2 1.0 1.0 0.0 1.6 .385 .778 .412
Justin Coleman 5 23.6 8.0 2.4 3.6 1.4 0.0 1.8 .250 .857 .207
Jimmie Taylor 5 22.6 5.0 4.6 0.2 0.2 2.0 1.0 .556 .357 .000
Arthur Edwards 5 20.6 6.0 4.0 1.6 0.6 0.6 1.8 .333 .667 .333
Riley Norris 5 19.4 7.8 2.4 0.4 0.6 0.0 0.6 .455 .824 .417
Donta Hall 5 14.8 3.0 3.2 0.2 0.4 2.0 0.4 .625 .385 .000
Michael Kessens 5 10.4 4.4 2.0 0.0 0.2 0.2 0.6 .900 .667 .000
Brandon Austin 4 10.0 2.3 0.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 .250 .000 .083
Lawson Schaffer 3 2.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 .000 .000 .000
Christian Clark 2 1.0 0.0 0.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 .000 .000 .000
Totals 5 -- 68 33 11 6 6 15 .415 .664 .309

 

**Statistics by ESPN.com

Courtesy of Crimson Magazine

Courtesy of Crimson Magazine

By Stan J. Griffin: November 28, 2015

Although the No. 2 Alabama football team led Auburn for the majority of Saturday's Iron Bowl contest at Jordan-Hare Stadium, Nick Saban's Crimson Tide seemed at times to be fighting an uphill battle against Gus Malzahn's relentlessly scrappy Tigers in a contest that stayed perilously close until midway through the fourth quarter.

Courtesy of Crimson Magazine

By Stan J. Griffin: November 25, 2015

Where have we seen this script before?
The No. 2 University of Alabama football team, very much in the chase for Southeastern Conference and national titles, heads into Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday as it looks to at least lock up the SEC West championship against its biggest rival in the Iron Bowl.
If it sounds familiar, it should, as this was the exact scenario entering the Iron Bowl on The Plains in 2013 as Nick Saban's Crimson Tide entered that game with similar aspirations.

By Stan J. Griffin: November 25, 2015

Next stop, Bryant-Denny Stadium.
That is the hopeful mission for the two remaining West Alabama schools still alive in the state high school football playoffs, as they gear up for semifinal action on Friday night.
For Lance Tucker's 9-4 Fayette High School Tigers and Andro Williams' 10-2 Linden High School Patriots, the task is clear, take care of business with their semifinal tilts, and then it will on to the University of Alabama's tradition-rich football cathedral for the Super Seven state championship games, which begin on Dec. 2.
But it will not be easy work for the Tigers or the Patriots Friday night.
After getting past Brooks 19-12 last Friday in the quarterfinals, Fayette County must hit the road for what is sure to be tough test against a 13-0 Cordova team, which won the championship of Class 4A Region 5.
The Blue Devils are coming off of a 30-20 win against Hamilton last Friday.

Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.

 

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