By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
First it was Week 5. Then Week 3. Then Week 2.
No matter the date, all Tyler Boland knew when his doctor gave him the the all-clear to “Go play football,” was that he planned to do just that.
The senior superstar then made the most of his earlier-than-anticipated return from a second major knee injury in a five-month span, picking off two passes and deflecting three others to spark Vinemont’s 32-7 blowout of region-foe Danville last Friday. Though he played primarily on defense, Boland also hauled in a 30-yard catch over a pair of defenders and converted a third down with a big run in the third quarter.
For his impressive comeback effort, Boland was one of six local football players mentioned in the “other outstanding performances” section of the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s latest Player of the Week release.
Vinemont and Cullman touted two players apiece, while Good Hope and Cold Springs each had one. All four teams are 2-0.
Boland was joined on the list by teammate Taylor Evans, who continued a strong start to the season with 15 carries for 172 yards and two touchdowns, including an exciting 78-yard score late in the first half. The senior also recovered a fumble.
The Bearcats were represented by seniors Garrett Crider and Mason Jones, who were instrumental in the Black and Gold’s 45-27 victory over East Limestone. Crider rushed for 227 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries, and Jones had nine receptions for 130 yards and a score, helping hand Mark Britton his 107th win with the program to overtake Oliver Woodard as Cullman’s all-time winningest coach.
Good Hope’s Sebastion Fendley once again found himself on the ASWA’s radar, scoring three times, including a 5-yard sprint into the end zone in overtime, for a thrilling 28-22 triumph over county-rival Hanceville.
Fendley’s other touchdowns came on a 17-yard run in the second quarter and a scrambling 36-yard heave to a wide-open Austin Crumbley in the end zone as time expired in the first half.
Last, but certainly not least, was Cold Springs’ Logan Campbell, who scored on runs of 10, 25 and 30 yards and tacked on another touchdown with an 80-yard kickoff return as the Eagles blasted Sulligent 47-27. The senior signal-caller finished with 276 all-purpose yards — 136 rushing and 140 special teams — as well as 10 tackles to propel Cold Springs to its first 2-0 start since 2003.
Campbell now has eight touchdowns on the season. Fendley is close behind with seven.
Pinson Valley’s Nick Gibson was named this week’s AHSAA Offensive Player of the Week after rolling up 447 yards and six touchdowns on 34 carries to lead the Indians to a 48-36 victory over Mortimer Jordan. The 447 yards ranks fifth in AHSAA single-game history, according to the governing body’s online record book. He scored on runs of 40, 12, 67, 75, 5 and 63 yards.
Gibson edged two finalists for the award — Weaver’s Timothy Hawkins and Madison Academy’s Kerryon Johnson.
Hawkins threw a 75-yard touchdown pass, had a 73-yard touchdown run, and returned an interception 100 yards for a TD in a 38-13 victory over Glencoe. He completed 5 of 15 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown and rushed 17 times for 110 yards and two scores.
Johnson scored four touchdowns in the Mustangs’ 45-6 win at Lauderdale County. He caught five passes for 126 yards with TD catches of 61and 62 yards and carried five times for 126 yards and delivered TD runs of 32 and 87 yards.
This week’s Defensive/Special Teams Player of the Week went to Barbour County’s Daquan Guice.
Guice returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including a game-sealing 85-yard return on the final play of a 34-20 victory over Pike County. He also had 14 tackles to go with a 42-yard interception return and caught a two-point conversion to give the Jags a 28-20 lead.
The Defense/Special Teams finalists were Cleveland’s Peyton Gilliland and Auburn kicker Sage Ledbetter.
Gilliland had four interceptions — good for 104 yards in returns — and added six tackles and three pass break-ups in a 47-19 victory over Susan Moore. On offense, he finished 9 of 17 passing for 159 yards and three TDs and added 57 yards rushing on just six attempts.
Ledbetter tied the single-game AHSAA record for field goals, as he converted 5-of-6 kicks, including makes of 45 and 46 yards, in Auburn’s 45-18 victory over Jeff Davis.
Boland, Crider, Jones, Fendley and Campbell were also included in the “other top performances” portion of the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s Prep Week 2 Spotlight release, as was Good Hope’s Jared McClure.
The senior running back returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown in the Raiders’ overtime win versus Hanceville, just one week after returning a punt 77 yards for a score on Good Hope’s very first touch of the season.
The AHSAA also highlighted Britton’s historic win in the “milestones” section.
Like the ASWA, the AHSAA handed out its weekly honor to Pinson Valley’s Gibson. The association’s other finalists were Barbour County’s Guice, Alabama Christian’s Chandler Taylor and Auburn’s Ledbetter.
Taylor was 21 of 38 for 425 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-41 loss at Headland. He also ran for 56 yards and another score. Taylor’s passing performance ranks 23rd all-time.
% The ASWA’s Josh Bean and AHSAA’s Ron Ingram contributed to this report.