By Ashley Graves
The Cullman Times
Coming off a stellar year, expectations were at an all time high at Hanceville, despite the loss of several key players, as they began the 2012 season.
After an 0-3 start, naysayers began to wonder whether or not the Bulldogs had a chance at making the postseason. And while it may have taken a little longer than coach Danny Miller and those associated with the program would have liked, the wins finally came, and they haven’t stopped since.
Friday night, Hanceville notched its sixth straight win of the year with a 39-22 victory over Cordova, and in the meantime earned the right to host the first round of the Class 3A playoffs beginning in two weeks.
“I’ve said this for the last six weeks, I’m as proud of these guys as any group I’ve coached,” Miller said. “To start from 0-3 and to come back and win six in a row and to do what we had to do to host a playoff game, that’s a tribute to our coaches and those kids.”
Hanceville capitalized on a Cordova turnover early in the opening minutes as Dante Reese recovered a fumble at the Blue Devil 35-yard line. On the ensuing play, Sheldon Lewis plowed his way to the 4-yard line to set up the touchdown by Torrey Green and a 7-0 advantage.
Green scored his second of four touchdowns on the night later in the first on a 5-yard touchdown, capping off a 10-play, 59-yard scoring drive.
Lewis scored from 38 yards out with 7:41 to play in the second to put the Bulldogs up 19-0, but Cordova wasn’t going to the locker room empty handed. A 20-yard pass from quarterback Hunter Sharitt to Taylor Trotter put the Blue Devils at midfield and into scoring position with just over three minutes to play before the half. It later resulted in a 2-yard quarterback sneak by Sharitt and eight points on the board, as the two-point conversion try was successful as well.
In an attempt to try and grab seven more points before the quarter closed, Cordova gambled for a chance at recovering its own onside kick, however Hanceville’s Lewis landed on the ball instead on the Bulldogs’ own 46-yard line. Brontae Harris scampered 55 yards to the end zone on the following play.
Then, the tale of two halves began.
It looked as though Hanceville was going to have the game put away after a score in the third. However, Cordova still had some fight left in them. A 66-yard touchdown by Zach Smith in the fourth closed to margin, but a Bulldog fumble at midfield on Hanceville’s next possession resulted in another Blue Devil touchdown, this time from 10 yards out, making it 39-22.
Hanceville was able to seal the win with a Caleb Hurst interception deep in its own territory.
“We tried to make it a whole lot harder than it had to be, but you know, I thought we played pretty well,” Miller said. “I thought we played pretty well in the first half, and then we came out in the third quarter and sort of let them get back in the game. I knew they’re having sort of a tough year down there, but it’s still Cordova and they’re not going to quit. They’re going to keep coming after you.”
Hanceville will close out the regular season on the road at West Morgan Thursday, as they try to earn their seventh straight victory.
“This group of seniors, this is the first time in their life they’ve had to go out there and play without the Diamond's and Broc's out there in front of them,” Miller said. “And it took those guys a few games to adjust to that, but I thought once we got started playing, and playing like we’re capable of doing, I feel like we’re headed in the right direction.”
%Ashley Graves can be reached by phone at 734-2131, ext 225, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org