SPANISH FORT, Ala. - The conditions were truly Spartan for friend, foe and fan on The Hill Friday night. But the Toros weathered Mother Nature’s worse and mud wrestled their way to another berth in the 2020 Class 6A title game
SPANISH FORT, Ala. - The conditions were truly Spartan for friend, foe and fan on The Hill Friday night. But the Toros weathered Mother Nature’s worse and mud wrestled their way to another berth in the 2020 Class 6A title game.
Fifth-ranked Saraland (11-3) scored in the first quarter and took a 7-0 shutout into the locker room at halftime. Coming into the game ranked No. 7, Spanish Fort scored twice in the third and held on for the win through a scoreless final period. But the Spartans were on the doorstep of tying and going up 14-13 until a fourth-and-goal last effort fell short for the 13-7 final.
SFHS head coach Ben Blackmon said he put it all on his quarterback Brendon Byrd at halftime.
“I told my sophomore quarterback, ‘Brendon we’re putting the ball in your hands – Go and make a play!’ And he was going to have to win the game for us by running the ball in the second half. And now ,he’s leading us to the championship game.”
Two of the big third-quarter plays Byrd made were one as a receiver and one as a runner. On a pitch sweep to Jacob Godfrey, Byrd then became a receiver and caught the throwback pass from Godfrey for a 13-yard touchdown reception. SFHS then took the lead for good when Byrd broke open for a 64-yard touchdown run.
Blackmon added that the conditions were bad for both teams. “It was old-time, old-fashion football. It was a mud bowl. But it was also a clash between two teams of incredible will and effort on both sides. So, hats off to Saraland and coach (Jeff) Kelly. They do a great job and never gave up. But, that’s why I’m so proud of our guys for staying in it and never giving up, too against one of the best teams in the state. At halftime I said to my offensive line we are going to win this by one. Just keep fighting.”
The Toros defense did the rest. On fourth and goal with 31 seconds on the fourth-quarter clock, Micah Gaffney picked off Spartan quarterback Karson Green’s pass to seal the win and return to the championship. SFHS lost the 6A title game last year by one point to Oxford.
“I’m so happy for our seniors who worked so hard this year to get us back to this point,” Blackmon said. “This was our goal and these guys all made it happen.”
The Spartans took their early lead when Green tossed a 49-yard touchdown pass to Omarion Crawford in the second quarter.
SFHS will meet Pinson Valley at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa Friday night. The PVHS Indians won their semifinal against Mountain Brook 27-10.