By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
The final week of the regular season was extremely kind to The Times’ coverage area.
Of all nine teams, only one did not finish with a win, and that was bound to happen with West Point and Fairview going toe-to-toe for a heated in-county matchup.
The 2012 campaign is far from over for the Aggies, who lost that thrilling ballgame 31-26 at home on Friday night, however, as they’re one of five local squads ready to make postseason runs.
Including Fairview, four of those schools will host their opponents, while Vinemont will be the only team taking its chances on the road.
The Aggies (7-3, 5-2 in Class 4A, Region 6) will welcome Munford (7-3, 5-2 in Region 5); Cullman (8-2, 5-2 in 5A, Region 8) will get things going at Oliver Woodard Stadium versus Arab (8-2, 5-2 in Region 7); Hanceville (7-3, 5-2 in 3A, Region 7) will bring in the boys from Deshler (7-3, 5-2 in Region 8) and Addison (7-2, 6-1 in 1A, Region 6) will get another first-round shot at Berry (6-4, 5-2 in Region 5) — this time on the Bulldogs’ turf. The Eagles (8-2, 5-2 in 3A, Region 7) will ride into Lauderdale County (9-1, 6-1 in Region 8), equipped solely with the intent of upsetting Class 3A’s fourth-ranked program.
The final whistles on Friday night marked the end of the road for West Point, Holly Pond , Cold Springs and Good Hope. All four teams had their fair share of struggles throughout the year but can breathe a bit easier after securing much-needed victories heading into the offseason.
Although Cold Springs and the Raiders both wound up with only three wins, that total is still a step in the right direction for a pair of schools that haven’t had much to cheer about in the recent past.
The return of Rod Elliott sparked the return of what it feels like to win ballgames for the Eagles, who entered the season on a 35-game losing streak stretching back to 2008. That skid quickly came to an end with a Week 1 triumph over Decatur Heritage, and Cold Springs added another set of victories versus Francis Marion and Carbon Hill.
Three wins is certainly an improvement from zero, but knowing Elliott, he’s still hungry for more. This is a coach who expects the Eagles to be playoff contenders, and as the last man to lead the school to the postseason, it shouldn’t be a stretch to believe his kids can accomplish that goal in the near future.
After two straight 1-9 seasons in 4A, Good Hope appeared poised to show its 3A competition it meant business in 2012, opening the year with statement wins against Holly Pond and Hanceville. Those were the only two victories the Raiders were able to muster, though, until Friday night’s 21-12 outcome on the road against West End at least.
Like Cold Springs, however, three wins for the Red and White could be exactly what coach Chris Moss needs to get his players to see what they can do to make sure that number only continues to rise.
It’s been four years since Good Hope has played an 11th game. If Moss can get a productive offseason out of his student-athletes, that slide could very well come to an end in 2013.
On an individual level, no player in Cullman County has even come close to keeping up with the unbelievable 2012 campaign Vinemont’s Ty Jones has enjoyed.
Just when it appeared the star running back couldn’t conceivably outdo everything he’d accomplished through the first nine weeks, he proved that theory wrong with a career night Friday versus Randolph.
Jones made all six of his 200-yard rushing games look like pocket change, carrying the ball 42 times for a massive 317 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Eagles to a 33-24 win over the Raiders.
The senior heads into the postseason with 2,070 rushing yards and an astounding 33 touchdowns this season.
If Vinemont didn’t have Jones on its roster, I’d be inclined to believe the Eagles don’t stand a chance of advancing past the traditionally powerful Tigers.
But coach Alan Scott does have Jones. And an outstanding offensive line. And a locker room full of kids who’ve believed in each other all year long. And a chance next Friday to show the state what it means to come from the Pinnacle.
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.