Sweet As Ever: Bulldogs grab first state title since 2010

12-7-17 — Tuscaloosa, Ala. — Sweet Water’s Jacory Brown cuts through a gaping hole in the Pickens County defense during the Bulldogs’ AHSAA Class 1A State Championship win over the Tornadoes.

TUSCALOOSA – Sweet Water reclaimed its once-familiar place atop Class 1A Thursday night with a 20-6 state championship game win over Pickens County. The Bulldogs utilized their trademark bludgeoning ground game and ball-hawking defense to walk away with the 10th state championship in school history.

“It’s just a super effort on our guys’ part. I couldn’t be more proud of a group of guys that come to work every day. I’ve said the last couple weeks how resilient they are,” Sweet Water head coach Pat Thompson said. “We’ve been behind in our last few playoff games. These guys just keep fighting and I couldn’t be more proud of a group of guys.”

The pivotal moment of the contest came with a little more than eight minutes to play. Pickens appeared poised to tie the game, trailing 14-6 with 8:28 left and the ball at the Bulldog 23. AlJaron Edwards danced around and through the Sweet Water pass rush for a 25-yard completion to Jacaurian Washington earlier in the the drive. Edwards looked to recreate that magic when Jacory Brown popped him and jarred the ball free. Shamar Lewis fielded the bouncing oblong and returned it 64 yards for his second scoop-and-score in the last two rounds of the state playoffs.

12-7-17 — Tuscaloosa, Ala. — Sweet Water’s Jaylon Williamson races toward the end zone during the Bulldogs’ AHSAA Class 1A State Championship win over the Pickens County Tornadoes.

“Nothing but green. Touchdown,” Lewis said of what he saw when he gained possession of the ball.

“That’s a huge play. I saw the ball come loose and it just so happened our best football player was waiting for it to bounce up to him so he could take it in. He’s been around the ball all year long,” Thompson said of Lewis, who has finishes the season with three defensive touchdowns. “We got great pressure.”

The play moved the Sweet Water lead to 20-6 with 7:55 to play.

Pickens backup quarterback Clifford Morton came off the bench after Edwards was injured on the previous snap. Morton quickly went 3 of 4 passing for 59 yards before Sweet Water jarred the ball loose from a Tornado receiver and it fortuitously bounced into the arms of Luke Davis for the fumble recovery to all but seal the game with just over five minutes to play.

Sweet Water moved the lead to 14-3 with 7:12 to go in the third quarter when Jaylon Williamson punched it in from three yards out to punctuate the 11-play, 68-yard march that opened the second half of play.

12-7-17 — Tuscaloosa, Ala. — Sweet Water’s Chance Broussard (48), De’Shawnterion Blanks (52) and Kaleb Greene (13) take down Pickens County’s Ta’Darien McIntosh during the Bulldogs’ AHSAA Class 1A State Championship win over the Tornadoes.

After pounding the ball deep into Tornado territory on each of its first half possessions, Sweet Water cashed in and wrested control of the game on a 2-yard touchdown plunge by Brown with two minutes remaining in the second quarter. The drive lasted 10 plays and covered 60 yards.

With the 7-3 lead, the Sweet Water defense held despite a flurry from Pickens as Jonah Smith intercepted a pass at the Bulldog 2 in the closing seconds of the second quarter to preserve the advantage.

“It’s just a super effort on our guys’ part. I couldn’t be more proud of a group of guys that come to work every day,” Thompson said. “I’ve said the last couple weeks how resilient they are. We’ve been behind in our last few playoff games. These guys just keep fighting and I couldn’t be more proud of a group of guys.”

Pickens took a 3-0 lead with a 26-yard field goal from Jermaine Hill with 5:40 left in the half. The Tornadoes’ final points came on a Hill field goal from 28 yards out with 4:10 left in the third.

The state championship is the first for Sweet Water since 2010 when Thompson was the defensive coordinator. Thompson earned state titles as the Sweet Water DC in 2007, 2008 and 2010.

12-7-17 — Tuscaloosa, Ala. — Sweet Water’s Shamar Lewis runs in the open field during the Bulldogs’ AHSAA Class 1A State Championship win over the Pickens County Tornadoes.

“It’s unreal to be the head coach of these guys. I’ve been in on three at Sweet Water,” Thompson said. “I never realized what (Coach Stacy) Luker went through getting us ready for that. It has been a crazy week. But these guys stayed focused”

Brown led all rushers with 103 yards on 25 carries. Williamson finished with 95 yards on 12 carries. Lewis had 95 yards 16 rushes. Jah’Darius McIntosh led the team with 10 tackles. Luke Davis recovered a fumble in the game.

The state championship is the second of the 2017 calendar year for Sweet Water, which saw its baseball team bring home the Class 1A crown in dramatic fashion in May. The two accomplishments were not disconnected according to Smith, the Bulldogs quarterback and MVP of the 1A baseball series.

“I think it had a ton (of impact). It helped us a lot,” Smith said. “It helped us know that it’s going to be a big stage, a lot of people are going to be there. Just stay calm.”

Lewis earned Most Valuable Player honors Thursday night with 95 yards rushing, a fumble return touchdown and an interception, the 28th Bulldog INT of the season. Sweet Water finished the year with 41 forced turnovers on defense.

12-7-17 — Tuscaloosa, Ala. — Sweet Water’s Jacory Brown strip sacks Pickens County’s AlJaron Edwards during the Bulldogs’ AHSAA Class 1A State Championship win over the Tornadoes. Shamar Lewis would pick up the fumble and run it in for the Bulldogs’ final touchdown of the game.

Turnovers, big plays push Sweet Water past Maplesville

Bulldog QB Jonah Smith (9) breaks through the middle of the Red Devil’s line and races for a key 2nd half TD. (WAW | Johnny Autery)

The state’s longest win streak is over and Sweet Water is headed to the Class 1A semifinals because of it. Pat Thompson’s Bulldogs beat Maplesville 26-21 Friday night, ending a 34-game Red Devil win streak and guaranteeing a new state champion for the first time since 2013.

For their part, the Bulldogs were able to draw upon a 2016 quarterfinal loss to Maplesville that saw Sweet Water tied with the Red Devils late in the fourth quarter only to lose 60-34.

“We knew we could play with them. We went down 14-0 early tonight and just stayed the course, kept plugging along,” Thompson said. “We didn’t get in any funk or anything. We just kept preaching to them on the sideline, ‘We’re going to be alright. We’re going to be alright.’ We came back and tied it at the half.”

Maplesville struck quickly when Ryan Morrow ran for an 89-yard touchdown with 11:31 left in the opening quarter for the 7-0 lead. Thomas Schoener later hit Nathaniel Watson for a 6-yard touchdown and the 14-0 lead and Maplesville was rolling.

Momentum for the Bulldogs came in the form of a spectacular play by Sasha Smith that amounted to a 27-yard catch and a significant turning point in the game.

“Sasha made a great one-handed catch on our first touchdown drive and that changed everybody’s demeanor,” Thompson said. “It just kind of turned from there, that one big play.”

That big play helped set up a 5-yard touchdown run by Jacory Brown with 8:01 left in the second quarter. Sweet Water then battled the game to dead even with 1:01 left in the frame when Shamar Lewis punched it in from five yards out.

The Bulldogs stayed on the attack in the third quarter as Jonah Smith ran for a 58-yard touchdown with 10:12 left in the period. Lewis then struck again with a 7-yard run in the closing seconds of the quarter to move it to 26-14.

Maplesville got back in it with 10:46 to play when Schoener hit Michael Harris for a 20-yard score.

Morrow ran for 141 yards and Watson ran for 120 but the Red Devils could not overcome interceptions made by the Sweet Water defense.

“We came up a big interception right before the half. We got another one later on,” Thompson, whose team has intercepted 25 passes this season, said. “Any time you’re playing a team like Maplesville and you get turnovers, that’s big for you.”

Jonah Smith, Sasha Smith and Kaleb Greene each picked off a pass in the quarterfinal victory. Lewis ran for 106 yards on 17 carries. Jonah Smith had 69 yards on seven carries. Brown had 42 yards on 15 carries. Sweet Water notched the win despite being outgained 395-311.

The Bulldogs are set to travel to Wadley next Friday night for the Class 1A state semifinals.

“They’re going to be real good. They’re averaging 50 points a game, I believe it is. They’re giving up just about five or six points a game defensively,” Thompson, whose team survived Wadley 21-20 in the second round in 2016, said. “We’ve got our hands full this week.”

Sweet Water rolls over Brantley

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
Junior Jah’Darius McIntosh drags down Brantley RB Michael Booker (25) for a loss.

Sweet Water had little trouble dispatching of Brantley Friday night on the way to a 41-13 victory in the second round of the AHSAA, Class 1A playoffs.

Shamar Lewis wasted no time announcing the Bulldogs’ intentions as he returned the opening kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown.

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
Purple Dawg Jaylon Williamson (44) splits two defenders and picks up a first down.

Jaylon Williamson scored the game’s first offensive touchdown when he punched it in from 15 yards out for a 14-0 lead.

Jacory Brown continued to pour it on with five seconds left in the first quarter as he scored on a 5-yard run to push the lead to 20-0.

Brantley looked to get off the deck with 10:22 remaining in the second quarter when Parker Driggers connected with Adrian Person for an 11-yard touchdown strike to narrow the gap to 20-7.

Jonah Smith followed with a touchdown toss of his own, hitting Chance Broussard for a 21-yard score to move the Sweet Water lead to 27-7.

Mack Wise broke a 27-yard touchdown run with 3:26 left in the opening half to narrow Brantley’s deficit to 27-13.

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
SW WR Chastian Washington (22) cradles the ball and makes the catch despite the efforts Brantley DB Jacob Odom (9)

Just before intermission fell in Nolan Atkins Stadium, Smith hit his younger brother Sasha Smith for a 12-yard touchdown pass and the 34-13 lead. The Sweet Water signal caller found the end zone one more time when he connected with Trent Sams for a 12-yard passing touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Smith finished 6 of 10 throwing for 90 yards and three touchdowns. Lewis led the ground game with 102 yards on 12 carries. Brown added 67 yards on 17 carries. Kaleb Greene intercepted a pass for the Sweet Water defense.

Sweet Water (10-1) hosts reigning state champion Maplesville next Friday night in the Class 1A quarterfinals.

Sweet Water handles Notasulga for first round win

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
RB Jacory Brown finds a opening and breaks a long run against the Blue Devils.

It may be playoff time but it was certainly business as usual for Sweet Water Friday night as they ran over Notasulga 54-0 to advance to the AHSAA Class 1A second round. The Bulldogs rushed to a 34-0 lead by halftime and shifted into cruise control down the stretch to ice the win in the first ever meeting between the two schools.

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
A trio of Bulldog defenders lead by Jaylon Williamson halt the forward progress of the Blue Devils RB.

Shamar Lewis opened the scoring with a 5-yard touchdown run with 6:34 remaining in the first quarter. Jacory Brown added a 13-yard run with 57 seconds remaining in the quarter to move the lead to 14-0. Lewis broke a 41-yard scoring run with 10:49 left in the second quarter to make it 20-0. JahDarius McIntosh then intercepted a pass and returned it for a score 14 seconds later to officially move the game into blowout territory. Brown added another touchdown run from a yard out with 4:13 left in the opening half.

Jaylon Williamson, Kaleb Greene and Jaylin Dixon each added a rushing touchdown in the second half to set the final margin.

Sweet Water totaled 386 yards of total offense on 58 plays with 371 of those yards coming on the ground. Conversely, the Bulldogs allowed only 48 yards of total offense to Notasulga.

Brown led the way with 102 yards rushing on 15 carries. Lewis added 97 yards on eight runs. McIntosh and Smith each intercepted a pass.

Sweet Water (9-1) is set to host Brantley (8-3) in the Class 1A second round next Friday.

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
Bulldog junior Chance Broussard runs for a first down after a pass reception.

Sweet Water strokes Class 2A New Brockton in regular season finale

Sweet Water largely controlled things throughout in its final regular season tune-up Friday, working its way to a 35-7 victory over Class 2A New Brockton.

Jacory Brown opened the scoring on a 2-yard touchdown run with 7:40 left in the first quarter. Brown scored on a 9-yard run less than three minutes later for the 14-0 lead.

The Bulldogs opened it up more on a 1-yard Jonah Smith touchdown run with 11:44 remaining in the second quarter.

Shamar Lewis broke a 32-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and Brown added a 3-yard scoring plunge in the fourth.

Sweet Water amassed 440 yards of total offense highlighted by a trio of 100-yard rushers. Brown ran for 112 yards and three scores. Jaylon Williamson had 103 yards while Lewis ran for 100 yards and a TD.

Sweet Water (8-1, 7-0) hosts Notasluga in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs next week.

Sweet Water plunders Pirates for perfect Region 1 record

Sweet Water put it away early Friday, scoring four first-quarter touchdowns on the way to a 63-0 win over Fruitdale. Jacory Brown scored on a pair of 7-yard touchdown runs before Shamar Lewis got in on the fun with a 30-yard scoring run. Jaylon Williamson added a 38-yard touchdown sprint to put the Bulldogs up 26-0 after one quarter of play.

Sasha Smith returned an interception for a touchdown early in the second quarter. The onslaught continued with a 46-yard Lewis touchdown run before Jaland Lewis-Horton ran it in from 35 yards out for a 47-0 halftime lead.

Walker Thompson added a 2-yard touchdown run and Devonte Blanks a 4-yard scoring plunge in the fourth quarter.

The Bulldogs outgained the Pirated 412-43. Smith and JahDarius McIntosh each picked off a pass for the Sweet Water defense.

Sweet Water (7-1, 7-0) wraps up a perfect run through Class 1A, Region 1. The Bulldogs travel to New Brockton next week to cap the regular season.

Sweet Water shellacks Millry to claim Region 1 crown

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
Bulldogs gang tackle a Wildcat running back in first half action.

Sweet Water head coach Pat Thompson has said all season long that he believes the winner of Class 1A, Region 1 would have to go unbeaten in region play. His Bulldogs took another big step toward that Friday night with a convincing 42-14 win over Millry.

Sweet Water scored 14 points in each of the game’s first three quarters to go up 42-7. Shamar Lewis scored on a 64-yard run in the opening frame before Jonah Smith hooked up with Chance Broussard on a 20-yard touchdown strike.

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
Sweet Water’s Jacory Brown (40) out races the Millry defense scoring a 2nd half TD.

Jaylon Williamson scored on a 10-yard run in the second quarter before Smith threw to Trent Sams for a 17-yard touchdown pass to go up 28-0 before halftime.

Smith threw his third touchdown pass with 8:10 to go in the third quarter when he found Jacory Brown for a 14-yard pitch-and-catch. Brown later ran it in from 26 yards out for the final Bulldog touchdown.

Sweet Water had 359 yards of total offense on only 36 plays. Smith went 4 of 7 passing for 73 yards and three touchdowns. Lewis ran is seven times for 125 yards. Williamson had 68 yards rushing while Brown had 62. Sams and Sasha Smith each intercepted a pass on defense for the Bulldogs.

Sweet Water (6-1, 6-0) clinches the Region 1 championship with the win. The Bulldogs wrap region play next week when they travel to Fruitdale.

The loss drops Millry to 4-4 overall and 4-2 in Region 1 play. That creates a three-way tie in the region after Linden beat Marengo 20-18 Friday night. All three teams are 4-2 in region play with Millry having beaten Linden, Linden having beaten Marengo, and Marengo having beaten Millry. Tie breakers will go into effect if all three teams win next week. Millry hosts A.L. Johnson. Linden hosts J.F. Shields. Marengo travels to McIntosh.

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
Senior Jaylon Williamson bursts through a porous Millry line for a big gainer.

Sweet Water throttles McIntosh for Region 1 win

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
Bulldogs Willie Lewis (57) and Deshawn Blanks (52) put heavy pressure on the Demon punter in first half action.

Sweet Water handled its business early Friday night, putting McIntosh squarely in the rearview mirror by halftime en route to a 48-0 Class 1A, Region 1 win.

Jacory Brown scored on a 6-yard run in the first quarter before Jaylon Williamson punched it in from a yard out on the final play of the frame for a 14-0 lead.

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
DB Trent Sams (1) races down the sideline after intercepting an errant McIntosh pass.

The second quarter turned into the Shamar Lewis show. The senior turned a Jonah Smith pass into a 64-yard touchdown to move it to 21-0. Lewis then ran for a 27-yard score. After Jonah Smith hit Sasha Smith for a 6-yard touchdown, Lewis got into the act on defense when he intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown.

Sweet Water added to the 41-0 halftime lead in the third when Jonah Smith threw to Braylone Kidd for a 56-yard touchdown.

The Bulldogs managed 326 yards of total offense on the night while allowing 61 to McIntosh.

Jonah Smith was 4-for-4 passing for 142 yards and three touchdowns. Lewis had 96 rushing yard and a TD on seven carries.

Trent Sams intercepted two passes while Lewis, Braiden Broussard and Antonio Sullivan each picked off one.

Sweet Water (5-1, 5-0) can clinch the Region 1 championship next Friday night when it hosts Millry.

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
OL Tony King (54) holds his block opening up running space for a Bulldog back.

Sweet Water ground game pounds Linden

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
A swarming Dawg “ D” pushes back Linden’s Graderius Brown.

Sweet Water relied almost exclusively on its traditionally powerful ground attack to wrest away a key Region 1 win over Linden Friday night. The Bulldogs scored 21 consecutive points over a stretch of 19:05 of game time to anchor a 42-20 victory.

With the game knotted at 14 late in the second quarter, Jonah Smith hit Chastian Washington for a 49-yard touchdown strike to give the Bulldogs the lead. Deshawn Blanks added the PAT to set the advantage at 21-14.

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
Bulldog Jacory Brown (40) leads Shamar Lewis (6) en route to a second half TD.

Shamar Lewis contributed an 11-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to move it to 28-14. Luke Davis then picked off a Patriot pass in the fourth quarter and returned it for a touchdown to move the lead to 35-14.

Kevin Green scored on a 7-yard run with 4:58 to play to narrow the deficit to 35-20 and keep Linden in the game. Lewis iced the game on a 9-yard touchdown run with 1:10 to go in the contest.

Jaylon Williamson opened the scoring with 4:05 remaining in the first quarter when he found the end zone on a 6-yard sprint to put Sweet Water up 7-0. Grady Brown later hit Green for an 8-yard touchdown strike to tie the game at 7-7. Williamson put Sweet Water up 14-7 on a 17-yard run with 4:53 to go in the second quarter. Brown later found Green again for a 52-yard touchdown pass to tie the game once more.

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
Patriot Graderius Brown (5) leaps over Bulldog defender Shamar Lewis deep in Sweet Water territory.

Linden had 367 yards of total offense but was ultimately felled, in part, by its lack of ball control. The Patriots threw two interceptions and fumbled four times though they only lost one such miscue. The Pats also incurred eight penalties for 60 yards.

Sweet Water amassed 295 yards rushing to buoy a 344-yard offensive night. Lewis totaled 128 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries. Williamson added 83 yards and two touchdowns on 13 runs.

Green hauled in four passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns. Isaiah Scott caught four passes for 96 yards. Scott also intercepted a pass for the Linden defense. Trent Sams had one INT for the Sweet Water defense.

Sweet Water (4-1, 4-0) travels to McIntosh next Friday night. Linden (3-3, 2-2) hosts A.L. Johnson.

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
Sweet Water WR Chastian Washington (22) hauls in a Jonah Smith pass for a 3rd Quarter TD.

Sweet Water woodsheds Shields for Region 1 win

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
DB Braiden Broussard (2) returns an interception deep into Panther territory

Sweet Water made quick work of Class 1A, Region 1 foe J.F. Shields Friday night, coasting to a 61-8 road victory.

The Bulldogs scored 40 points in the first quarter to take a commanding lead. Jonah Smith hit Shamar Lewis for a 49-yard touchdown pass. Jaylon Williamson added the conversion run to make it 8-0. Smith punched it in from 3 yards out before a Jacory Brown conversion run to make it 16-0.

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
Sweet Water QB Jonah Smith calls his own number and runs for a big gain.

Jonah Smith then threw to his younger brother Sasha Smith for a 33-yard touchdown. Brown’s conversion plunge made it 24-0. Smith then hit Trent Sams for a 16-yard touchdown strike. Williamson’s conversion run pushed it to 32-0. Lewis then ran it in from three yards out ahead of Brown’s conversion run, which made it 40-0.

Jaland Lewis-Horton added a 9-yard touchdown run in the second quarter while Kaleb Greene had a 4-yard scoring sprint to set the halftime lead at 53-0. After Shields got on the board in the fourth, Lewis returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown. Lewis-Horton added the conversion run for the final margin.

Smith was 7 of 8 passing for 170 yards and three touchdowns in addition to his 20 rushing yards and one touchdown rushing. Lewis-Horton had 52 yards on seven carries to lead all Bulldog rushers. Lewis had two catches for 62 yards and a score. Braiden Broussard intercepted a pass for Sweet Water.

Sweet Water (3-1, 3-0) is off next Friday and will host Linden Oct. 6.

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
Bulldog defenders, Michael Allen Cole (76), Brodie Echols (75) and Chance Broussard (48) gang tackle the Panther RB