By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
It’s not easy being the quarterback at a school barely big enough to be in Class 5A. Having to steer the ship through a brutal Region 8 schedule certainly doesn’t help matters, either.
Yet every Friday night, Bryant Farley laces up his cleats, layers on the pads, places his helmet on his head and sets out to do whatever it takes to put his West Point squad in position to win.
The junior’s grit and determination was never more apparent than this past week at East Limestone. The fleet-footed Farley ripped off not one, but two tremendous touchdown runs in the second half to will the Warriors to a narrow 16-14 triumph.
Farley finished the evening with a hefty 245 rushing yards on 27 carries. His two most important totes both came in the third quarter, the first a 30-yard scoring scamper to open the half and the second a 50-yarder that handed West Point a lead it never relinquished.
The victory was surely all Farley sought, but it’d be hard to imagine he’ll mind a mention in the “other notable performances” section of the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s latest Player of the Week release as well.
The signal-caller was one of 10 local players who made the list, which also included Fairview’s Austin Harris, Hayden Maples and Ethan Widner, Hanceville’s Brontae Harris and Dant’e Reese, Cold Springs’ Caleb Ellison and Logan Campbell, and Good Hope’s Sebastion Fendley and Austin Crumbley.
It was only fitting for the Aggies to punch their ticket to the playoffs with yet another thrilling win — and yet another monster night from their sophomore running back.
Harris rushed for 225 yards on 25 carries, including 180 and all four of his touchdowns in the second half, to lead the Purple and Gold over Crossville in a close 32-28 final. His scores covered 19, 1, 7 and 1 yards, the last putting Fairview up for good with 9:55 to go.
Maples and Widner were also instrumental to the Aggies’ ultimate end result. The former completed 19 of 25 passes for 254 yards and a touchdown, directing 11 of those throws to the latter, who piled on 118 receiving yards.
Hanceville’s Harris hasn’t been able to avoid the eyes of the ASWA at all this season — and that’s A-OK with the shifty junior. The speedster had one of his most complete performances to date, running wild for 219 yards and three touchdowns, including a 52-yarder, and returning an interception 53 yards for another score in the Bulldogs’ 54-13 road rout of Cordova.
Reese also proved to be a two-way threat on an evening Hanceville hauled in its second region championship in the last three seasons. The tall target was on the receiving end of a 31-yard touchdown pass from Caleb Hurst on offense, as well as a 54-yard pick-six on defense.
Cold Springs knew it was going to take an effort of epic proportions to upset No. 8 Oakman — and that’s exactly what the Eagles got out of their boys in the backfield en route to an oh-so-close 42-38 loss to 2A, Region 6’s top team.
Ellison served as a bruiser with 136 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries, while Campbell continued an out-of-this-world season with 190 rushing yards and a pair of scores on 33 carries. The senior signal-caller also completed both of his throws for 30 yards, made eight tackles and picked off a pass.
Fendley had a hand in all of Good Hope’s touchdowns for a second straight week. One Friday after accounting for five scores in a win against Cordova, the senior quarterback completed 15 of 28 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns in the Raiders’ 45-22 road loss to Winfield.
Crumbley, a fellow senior, played a big-time part in that passing performance, reeling in five catches for 120 receiving yards and two scores.
Clarke County running back Jarrette Pope logged 22 carries for 410 yards and six touchdowns to earn ASWA Offensive Player of the Week honors. The performance — which didn’t take into account his five tackles on defense — led Clarke Prep to a 72-41 victory over Morgan Academy.
Pope edged Lynn quarterback Brody Meeks and Pinson Valley running back Nick Gibson in this week’s balloting.
Meeks finished with 342 yards of total offense in a 49-48 loss to Hubbertville. He completed 18 of 32 passes for 268 yards and five TDs (65, 33, 22, 12 and 10 yards), rushed seven times for 74 yards and a score, completed four two-point conversion passes and added a two-point conversion run.
Gibson turned 38 carries into 368 yards and had touchdown totes of 4, 15, 23, 78, 5 and 29 yards in a 53-34, come-from-behind victory over Moody.
Waterloo’s Bradley Darby, who did a little bit of everything in a 34-0 win against Vina, was named the ASWA Defense/Special Teams Player of the Week. He recovered two fumbles and an onside kick and recorded 10 tackles and a sack to help his team earn its first victory of the season. Darby also rushed for 168 yards and two touchdowns on offense.
The other finalists were Corner’s Hunter Doppler and Oneonta’s Rashad Roberson.
Doppler rounded up 20 tackles and an interception in the Yellow Jackets’ 36-23 loss to Bibb County. Roberson returned a punt 50 yards for a TD, returned another punt 43 yards for a score, broke up two passes and had four tackles in a 62-14 win over Sardis.
The Alabama High School Athletic Association had not sent out its Prep Spotlight for Week 9 release by publication of this story.
% The ASWA’s Josh Bean contributed to this report.