AUBURN -- There was no chance for a heartbreaker this time.
Wide receiver Michael Powers and quarterback Connor Short celebrate the state championship.
After two straight 1-point losses in the Class 6A championship game, Hoover was determined to erase those disappointments this Friday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The Buccaneers cruised to a 31-0 win over Opelika to win the school’s eighth state championship.
“All we talked about was finishing the climb,” Hoover coach Josh Niblett said. “We had one more thing they had to check off and that was to win a state championship. I didn’t want these seniors to go out without a ring.”
And it was seniors Calen Campbell, Connor Short and Landry Tullo that led the way.
Campbell earned MVP honors with 30 carries for 191 yards and touchdown runs of 64, 3 and 45 yards. Short, an Auburn baseball signee, completed 13-of-21 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown.
Tullo was a force on defense with a game-high 10 tackles.
“That left a bad taste in our mouths the last two years,” Short said. “This year, we had to go in thinking there’s no way anyone is going to take this from us. We worked too hard.
“We came out on top this year and I’m proud for every single one of our guys.”
Cinderella run comes to an end
An incredible playoff run by Opelika came to a crashing end Friday. The Bulldogs finished the regular season 6-4 but rolled through the first four rounds of the playoffs collecting upset wins over Pelham, Daphne, Auburn and Carver.
But No. 1 Hoover was just too much for the Bulldogs in the championship game.
“Nobody thought we could get there when we finished 3rd in our Region but we’re here,” Opelika coach Brian Blackmon said. “The hard thing is when you’re right there on the doorstep and you’re that close to getting what you worked so hard for.
“It’s like having your heart ripped right out of you.”
Hoover jumped on Opelika quickly with a 64-yard run by Campbell and then Marlon Humphrey intercepted a Matthew Christian pass and returned it 42 yards to the Opelika 3-yard line. Campbell scored on the next play and the Bulldogs were down 14-0 in the first quarter.
It looked like Opelika might get back in the game when it put together an 80 yard, 10-play drive but it couldn’t move the ball after a 1st-and-goal at the 8-yard line and missed a 23-yard field goal.
The Bulldogs were unable to muster much offense after that. Senior Calvin Bryant led Opelika with 85 yards on 19 carries.
Dixon runs wild in 4A championship
It was a special day for Troy Dixon.
The sophomore running back from UMS-Wright rushed for 232 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries in a 42-14 win over Oneonta in the Class 4A championship game.
Dixon, who was named MVP, had touchdown runs of 52, 61 and 74 yards. But it was a 33-yard touchdown reception by his older brother, senior T.J. Dixon, that made the game even more memorable.
“It means a lot. T.J. being a senior, my older brother, it means so much more,” Dixon said. “It’s like a dream. It’s unreal right now. I’m just enjoying the moment. I love it.”
Dixon’s 61-yard touchdown run at the end of the second quarter broke a 14-14 tie. UMS-Wright dominated the second half, outscoring Oneonta 21-0.
UMS junior quarterback Gunner Roach had a big game completing 9-of-13 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown and scoring a second touchdown on a quarterback sneak.
Oneonta senior wide receiver Alvin Scott set a 4A championship game record with 11 receptions for 123 yards. Senior running back Tyler Smith had two rushing touchdowns.
UMS finishes the season 13-2 with the school’s sixth state championship. Oneonta finishes 14-1 with a loss in the Super 6 for the second straight year.
First time ever for the Rattlers
There was no stopping this Tanner team.
The Rattlers rolled through the regular season and playoffs undefeated outscoring opponents by an average of 47-7. They were also searching for redemption after losing to Elba in last year’s championship game.
On Friday at Jordan-Hare, Tanner earned its the first state championship in school history with a 28-14 win over Washington County in the Class 2A finals.
“Many of the same guys who lost last year in the finals were on that defense and were really determined to get back here,” Tanner coach Laron White said. “It means so much to win this championship. For 10 years you try to run a program the right way and this is the ultimate payoff.
“I am so proud right now.”
Senior Fred Rich rushed for two touchdowns and added six tackles and one interception on defense to earn MVP honors. Junior Heyden Stephens had 139 rushing yards and sophomore Jonathon Fletcher scored on a 5-yard run and a 44-yard interception return.
Tanner finishes the season a perfect 14-0 while Washington County falls to 13-2. Senior TJ Kidd had 79 yards rushing and a touchdown for the Bulldogs.
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