NOTEBOOK: Sipsey Valley makes playoffs in third season of football
Thu. November 01, 2012 at 1:00 a.m. | By Andrew Carroll
Sipsey Valley football coach Antonio Ford talks to players during a timeout. (Photo by Michelle Lepianka Carter)
The Sipsey Valley Bears celebrated in the traditional way last week when they defeated American Christian Academy, 47-27.
Coach Antonio Ford got doused with a bucket of ice water as the Bears improved to 5-4 and secured a berth in the AHSAA Class 3A playoffs.
Sipsey Valley, which started in 2010 with an 0-10 season, can finish the regular season with a winning record if it can beat Hale County on Friday night. The Bears will travel to Leeds for a Nov. 9 playoff game.
Lineman Jason Kelley is one of 13 seniors who will be honored prior to the Hale County game.
"The offensive line, we weren’t being selfish because we weren’t getting any glory," said Kelley, who was on the first Sipsey Valley team. "We wanted to see Garret (Lewis) and Carson (Windle) and all the other players do well. We’re just really excited about that.
"I knew we would be good, but it just takes time, like any program takes time to mature and grow into something. We have leaders on this team like Carson and Garret and Ronnyell (Edwards) that push us every single day. We didn’t have that back then (in 2010). We just have to play consistent. On the offensive line, that’s what we preach every single week — consistency, aggressiveness and intensity."
Windle, a senior linebacker on defense and running back on offense, didn’t play in 2010 because of injuries. He was part of the team that won two games in 2011, Ford’s first season as head coach.
"We’ve been talking all year about our goal, to make it to the playoffs," Windle said.
"That’s what we’ve been striving for every day at practice; come work hard for the playoffs. Looking up there at the scoreboard, when it got to zero, it was very satisfying. It just felt really good to know that we met our goal.
"It’s time now to set some new goals. We can’t overlook Friday night. It’s senior night. We’ve got to take care of business. Then we can start looking at Leeds in the playoffs."
Lewis, a junior, became the starting quarterback as a freshman. He has thrown for 1,649 yards and 18 touchdowns this season.
"I don’t know if I’m having the most fun of anybody," Lewis said. "We all go out and have a great time every Friday night. The thing is we all love to play the game, and it really shows on Friday nights, and especially this year with all the wins that we’ve gotten.
"It’s definitely been worth it. Our first year, we had a lot of sad moments, and it was kind of tough to endure, but we always knew there were going to be bigger and better things to come, so we kept pushing and kept working hard. Now to get where we are, it’s a great feeling."
Edwards, a senior, plays on the defensive line.
"This year we were all about business, and we knew we had a point to prove," Edwards said. "I’m extremely proud, knowing that we’re a third-year program and how Coach Ford just came in and took over the program and helped us turn around all our goals and our dreams. He really helped us move forward from that first season."
Logan Averett said "buying in" was a key factor in transforming the program.
"With the talent we’ve got and the attitude that the coaches developed with the offseason workouts, I’m really proud of my team with how far we’ve made it," said Averett, a junior wide receiver. "We’ve still got work to do, though. We know we’re in the playoffs, but it would be really special to have the first winning season in Sipsey Valley history."
Ford said he let the players celebrate, but he wanted them ready to work on Monday.
"Last Friday night was special, but it wasn’t too much different," he said. "I was happy because the guys were able to see it. We started talking about this goal in June. Then we lose the first week. Then we lose the second week, and people start to think it’s the same old Sipsey Valley. But I was so proud of my men and how they continued to fight through this whole process.
"There never was a sense of defeat. Our kids are so resilient. I think this playoff berth is the result of them never giving up."
Rams senior eager for playoffs
James Moore, a senior center and defensive tackle, will experience the playoffs for the first time in his career at Northside High School. The Rams qualified in Class 3A and will make their first appearance since 1994. Northside will play at Trinity Presyterian in Montgomery on Nov. 9.
Northside (5-4) plays at home this Friday against Oak Grove and has chance for its first winning season since 1994.
"For me, it’s a team effort," Moore said. "It’s the guys I was a freshman with. We have now grown over the past four years, and we finally made it to the playoffs. We made our goal."
Northside went 1-9 last year, but Chris Hilliker took over the program after guiding Paul W. Bryant to a 6-5 record and a Class 5A playoff appearance.
"Coach always said we would make it to the playoffs if we worked hard every day," Moore said.
"We did, we got better and we were able to get there."
Colvin a finalist for state award
Marion Colvin, a senior at Pickens Academy, has been chosen as one of Alabama’s top 20 scholar-athletes in the Wendy’s High School Heisman program. Colvin, who plays softball and basketball, is an honor student with a 4.0 grade point average.
The two Alabama winners, one male and one female, will be announced Monday. Twelve finalists from around the country will travel to New York in December and will be featured in a ceremony to be televised by ESPN. The national finalists will receive gold medals and $2,000 awards for their schools. The two national winners will receive a crystal Wendy’s High School Heisman trophy and a $500 gift certificate to Wendy’s, which will also make a $10,000 donation to each winner’s high school.
TCHS receiver won’t play Friday
Rasheed Artis, a wide receiver for the Tuscaloosa County football team, won’t play Friday when the Wildcats close out the regular season with a game at Pell City.
TCHS coach Lee Gibson said Artis is recovering from an "abdominal injury." Artis got hurt in the fourth quarter last Friday when he caught a pass and was hit by a Hoover defender. Artis was taken to a hospital after the game. TCHS wound up losing 28-10 to the top-ranked Bucs.
Artis caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Gates in the third quarter.
Reach Andrew Carroll at email@example.com or at 205-722-0223.