By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times
Cullman began its 2013 campaign ranked No. 9 in the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s preseason football poll.
A gritty Week 1 victory against Walker didn’t improve the Bearcats’ standing, unfortunately, as they dropped out of the top 10 completely the following week.
Two runaway victories over East Limestone and West Point the next two Fridays still weren’t enough for Mark Britton’s squad to find itself back in the Class 5A rankings, either.
However, a hard-fought triumph over No. 5 and heated-rival Hartselle was just the trick for the Black and Gold to get back in the mix in this week’s ASWA poll — this time at No. 10.
Addison remained in the No. 4 spot in the 1A rankings, while Hanceville and Good Hope each received votes in 3A. Vinemont dropped out following a 35-14 loss to the Bulldogs.
Senior defensive back Trey Moon and wide receiver Mason Jones were big reasons Cullman was able to get past one of its biggest rivals for the first time since the 2007 season.
Their performances against Hartselle earned them both places in the “other standout performances” section of the Alabama Sports Writers Association's latest Player of the Week release.
Moon anchored a stingy defense that didn’t allow the Tigers into the end zone. He made sure of that with not one, but two first-half interceptions inside his own 10-yard line to stave off a couple of Hartselle drives during the contest. Moon was also at the forefront of a crucial fourth-down stop late in the third quarter for the Bearcats.
Meanwhile, Jones shone for Cullman yet again, hauling in 10 catches for 160 yards and a touchdown. It was Jones’ second 100-yard receiving game of the season. His other came in the form of a nine-catch, 130-yard performance against East Limestone back in Week 2. He also hauled in four passes for 89 yards against West Point the following week to further secure himself as quarterback Tyler Glenn’s favorite — and most reliable — target so far this season.
Mobile Christian quarterback Tyler Rogers was named the AWSA’s Offensive Player of the Week -- and for good reason, too.
Trailing Flomaton 28-0, the signal-caller led the Class 2A, No. 1 Leopards to an astonishing comeback over the Hurricanes.
He rushed for 312 yards and five touchdowns to lead his team back to a 42-28 victory. He scored on runs of 5, 13, 19, 47 and 80 yards in the win.
Rogers edged out two worthy players for the weekly award – Pickens County’s Jermarcus Brown and Dale County’s Jamarius Henderson. Brown rushed 230 yards on nine carries and scored four touchdowns as the Tornadoes beat Brilliant 40-0, and Henderson rushed for 301 yards and five touchdowns in a 52-0 victory over Montgomery Catholic. He also led the defense with 10 tackles, including three for losses.
This week’s ASWA Defense/Special Teams Player of the Week was Keith’s Delmuss Irby. He intercepted two passes and scored on a 69-yard punt return in a 50-0 win over Holy Spirit. On offense, he rushed for 42 yards on three carries and caught a 55-yard touchdown pass as well.
The finalists for the Defense/Special Teams award were Collinsville’s Kevin McElrath and Spanish Fort’s LaDarrell Pettway. McElrath stripped the ball from a Sumiton Christian player and returned it for a touchdown with 1:26 remaining in regulation to tie the game at 26. The Panthers went on to claim a 33-32 victory. Pettway returned two punts for scores – a 72-yarder and an 84-yarder -- as the Toros hammered Faith Academy 54-0.
While Dale County’s Henderson narrowly missed out on being named Offensive Player of the Week by the ASWA, he wasn’t forgotten by the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s Week 4 Spotlight.
He rushed for more than 300 yards for the second week in a row last Friday night as the Warriors (4-0) remained unbeaten on the season.
Henderson, a 5-foot-11, 205-pound junior, now has 928 yards rushing and 15 total touchdowns in the Warriors’ first four games. Coach Pate Harrison’s team is also unbeaten for the first time after four games since 2002.
His performance edged out other rushing performances by senior Ready Swanigan of Marion County and Rogers of Mobile Christian and an outstanding special teams performance by Cleburne County place-kicker Anderson Jacks.
Other milestones around the state include Shades Valley, which beat Huffman 38-6 for the school’s 501st win. They are now 501-371-33 all-time. Tuscaloosa County won its 500th game in its season-opening 14-13 win over Mountain Brook. The Wildcats are now 502-334-31 overall.
T.R. Miller, the state leader in all-time wins (630), is currently 4-0 after beating Bayside Academy 43-40 last week. Coach Jamie Riggs’ team has won 275 games in the last 25 years – best in the AHSAA. The Tigers own a 630-294-20 overall record with 82 wins coming in the state playoffs. The 82-27 playoff record is second only to now-closed Hazlewood’s 85-21 mark.
% The ASWA’s Josh Bean and AHSAA’s Ron Ingram contributed to this report.