By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times
Heading into Friday night’s county clash with Holly Pond, Fairview was looking to get its offensive groove back in the worst possible way.
The normally fast-paced unit had been stagnant during its past three contests, compiling a lackluster 31 points after kicking off its 2013 campaign with a 33-point performance against county-rival Hanceville.
Apparently, Hayden Maples had seen quite enough and was determined to do something about it.
The Aggie quarterback completed each of his 10 pass attempts — all coming in the first half — for 216 yards and five touchdowns, as the Purple and Gold easily overpowered the Broncos 47-14 to end its two-game losing streak and get back into the win column.
“I was very pleased with our effort and our tempo tonight,” Fairview coach George Redding said. “That was important for us. We were executing well. Consistency has been a problem for us this season. We had more of that and less mistakes, so that was good to see for sure.”
The Aggies (2-3, 1-2 in Class 4A, Region 6) didn’t waste any time getting the party started, as Maples found wideout Ethan Widner on a post-corner route for 32 yards to give his team an early 8-0 lead after the 2-point conversion.
Following a turnover on downs by Holly Pond, Redding’s team marched 72 yards in seven plays and punctuated the drive with a 6-yard pitch-and-catch from Maples to Widner to extend the cushion to 14-0.
Fairview’s well-oiled machine didn’t slow down, either, as the offense added two more first-quarter touchdowns — a 24-yard screen pass to running back Austin Harris and a 17-yard score to freshman Sambo Woods — to give them a 27-0 advantage just 12 minutes into the contest.
The second quarter was much of the same, as Maples found Widner once again — a 48-yard connection — just three plays into the frame, adding more points to the scoreboard.
An interception by Hunter Brewer two plays later set up the Aggies’ final score of the half, a 20-yard scamper by Harris to give the Purple and Gold a 41-0 lead.
For Maples, it was far and away his best game since taking over under center for Fairview.
“It feels good to get back on top and get some confidence going,” the junior signal-caller said. “My guys were catching balls, we were making good blocks all night and we were just doing our thing on the field. We had a good gameplan heading into tonight against them.”
A former quarterback in his own right, Redding had nothing but glowing things to say about Maples and his entire offense following the 33-point victory and 490-yard output.
“I thought Hayden did an outstanding job,” he said. “He’s continued to improve each week. We like where he’s at. He did a great job of managing the game and reading coverages.
“I was also very happy with how we played up front. Proud of our running backs. The offensive line was able to control the line of scrimmage. As a whole, I was pleased with all areas of what we were doing out there on offense.”
While most of the talk may have been about the offense, the Aggie D certainly did its part in the victory. The unit yielded a meager 35 total yards to the Broncos in the first half, while collecting three sacks and six tackles for loss. The special teams unit even threw in a blocked punt for good measure.
Harris finished his night with eight carries for 117 yards to lead the way on the ground. Widner’s four catches netted him 111 yards to go along with his three scores. Senior Brandon Richter helped out Harris with 13 totes of the rock for 85 yards, while Luke Macias tallied six carries for 30 yards and scored on a 3-yard run late in the fourth quarter.
For Holly Pond (0-5, 0-3 in 3A, Region 6), senior running back Jacob Jones was good for 64 yards on 13 carries, including a 7-yard score. Tony Vasquez added the other touchdown for the Green and White on 10-yard dash, while quarterback Mike Lambert contributed with 79 total yards in the defeat. Five different players caught passes for Holly Pond as well.
The Broncos will continue the search for their first win of the season when they travel to J.B. Pennington next Friday.
Meanwhile, Redding and his squad hit the road for a pivotal region game against St. Clair County. A win would go a long way toward the Aggies’ playoff hopes, while a loss would all but eliminate the chance of playing in the postseason.
“Our backs are against the wall in the region,” Redding said. “We’ve got to come out and swing early. If we don’t come out fast, they can get on us in a hurry. I’m excited about where we are at, though. I’m excited about next week, and I’m looking forward to seeing how our guys respond to it.”
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 136 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.