All games played at Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa
LEEDS (12-2) vs. MADISON ACADEMY (14-0)
When: 11 a.m. today
How they got here: Leeds def. Barbour County, 34-20; Fayette County, 30-0; T.R. Miller, 24-20; Straughn, 19-7; Madison Academy def. J.B. Pennington, 49-7; Hamilton, 43-12; Piedmont, 34-33 (OT); Saks, 31-21
State Playoff Championships:
Leeds — 2 (2008, 2010); Madison Academy — 1 (2012)
Last Finals Appearance:
Leeds — 2010 (defeated Hamilton, 42-32); Madison Academy — 2012 (defeated Fayette County, 31-7)
Record in Finals: Leeds, 2-0; Madison Academy, 1-1
Series Record: Leeds is 3-0 in head-to-head matchups, including a 24-21 win over Madison Academy in the last meeting in the third round of 2009 playoffs
Players to watch: Leeds — RB Tre’ Nation (sophomore ran for 1,732 yards with 23 TDs after amassing 1,890 yards as a freshman), RB/LB Tyler Wright (1,075 yards rushing, 161 total tackles including 16 for loss), QB Tadarryl Marshall (athletic dual-threat rushed for 765 yards and passed for 959), DB/WR Jacoby Lockhart (All-State selection last year as a sophomore has five interceptions, 423 receiving yards), DL Isaiah Sharp-Perry (112 tackles, 24 for loss); Madison Academy — RB/DB Kerryon Johnson (hampered with ankle and shoulder injuries yet still rushed for 925 yards and snagged five interceptions), QB Blake Coward (1,283 passing yards with 18 TDs), RB Malik Miller (1,518 yards rushing including 323 in semifinal win, 26 TDs), OL Frank Williams (6-foot-2, 265-pounder was first-team All-State last year and anchors solid offensive line), LB Taylor Ziak (returning All-State pick recorded 147 tackles to become school’s all-time leader)
Noteworthy: Leeds seeks its third championship in the last six seasons, having compiled a 74-10 record during that span. After struggling to a 3-2 record including a home loss to Trinity in Week 2, the Green Wave reeled off nine straight wins. Leeds, ranked 7th in the final poll, joins Washington County as the only two teams to advance to the finals despite not winning their region. The Green Wave ground attack averages 295 yards per contest and is led by Nation, who has gained over 3,600 yards in his career despite only being a sophomore.
Madison Academy is in finals for third straight season and has been ranked No. 1 all season. The Mustangs, who set a school record with 594 points, seek to repeat as champions after becoming the first team from Madison County to win a state football title since the playoffs began in 1966. Madison Academy had its current 24 game win streak threatened the last two weeks. After a one-point overtime win at Piedmont in the quarterfinals, the Mustangs scored 21 fourth-quarter points and had four defensive stops in the red zone to secure their semifinal win over previously undefeated Saks last week. The combined record of the Mustangs’ opponents is 103-62, the best of any Super 6 participant.
MAPLESVILLE (14-0) vs. PICKENS COUNTY (14-0)
When: 3 p.m. today
How they got here: Maplesville def. Marengo, 62-0; Geneva County, 41-7; Linden, 41-0; Brantley, 31-8; Pickens County def. Gaylesville, 36-13; Addison, 38-22; Ragland, 41-21; Hubbertville, 53-22
State Playoff Championships: Maplesville — 1 (1996); Pickens County — none
Last Finals Appearance: Maplesville –1996 (defeated Lynn, 45-6); Pickens County –first appearance
Record in Finals: Maplesville, 1-1; Pickens County, 0-0
Series Record: Maplesville is 3-0 in head-to-head matchups, most recently a 47-26 region victory over Pickens County during the 2011 regular season
Players to watch:
Maplesville — QB Colby Chambers (1,781 yards passing with 16 TDs, 386 yards rushing for 15 TDs), RB Damion Mitchell (1,663 yards rushing averaging 10 yards per carry with 21 TDs plus five TDs on kick returns), LB Devonte Morrow (141 tackles with four fumbles caused), LB Tyler Armstrong (135 tackles) ; Pickens County — QB Devonte’ Simon (dual-threat with 1,508 passing yards and 922 running for 30 total TDs), RB Jermarcus Brown (averaged 11 yards per carry totaling 2,225 yards and a school-record 34 TDs), DL Dontae Hughes (67 tackles with nine sacks), OL Zev Finch (6-foot-2, 270-pounder led powerful offensive line with 20 pancake blocks).
Noteworthy: Maplesville needs only 29 points to eclipse the all-time season scoring record of 761 set by Demopolis in 2004. The Red Devils are averaging a gaudy 52.4 points per contest, including a school record 75 against Sunshine. Maplesville has been equally stout defensively allowing only 7.2 points per game while limiting 11 opponents to a touchdown or less. The second-ranked Red Devils overcame three first-half turnovers to dethrone defending champion Brantley in the semifinals to earn their first return to the finals since 1996. Coach Brent Hubbert has compiled an 89-12 record the past eight seasons, following in the footsteps of his father, Jim, who coached 14 years at Maplesville including the 1996 champions.
Pickens County makes first finals appearance after losing in four previous semifinals attempts, atoning for a gut-wrenching 42-41 loss to Marion County last year that would have sent them to the championship game.
The No.1 Tornadoes established a school record for wins and points scored (631) in a season, averaging 45.1 per contest. This will be the only Super 6 matchup between two undefeated teams. Simon accounted for six touchdowns — four running, two passing — against Hubbertville last week, and will need help from 2,000-yard rusher Brown to keep the potent Maplesville offense on the sidelines. Coach Patrick Plott is 47-7 in four seasons at Pickens County, taking a one-year hiatus to lead Bullock County in 2009 after his first season with the Tornadoes.
SPANISH FORT (14-0) vs. MUSCLE SHOALS (13-1)
When: 7 p.m. today
How they got here: Spanish Fort def. Selma, 66-0; Sylacauga, 44-7; Jackson, 36-6; Saraland, 24-14; Muscle Shoals def. Mortimer Jordan, 55-6; Parker, 31-0; Athens, 35-7; Southside-Gadsden, 21-3
State Playoff Championships:
Spanish Fort — 2 (2012, 2010); Muscle Shoals — none
Last Finals Appearance: Spanish Fort — 2012 (defeated McAdory, 45-14); Muscle Shoals — first appearance
Record in Finals: Spanish Fort, 2-0; Muscle Shoals, 0-0
Series Record: first meeting between schools
Players to watch:
Spanish Fort — RB Michael Howard (1,205 yards rushing, 12 yards per carry, 11 TDs), QB Tyler Johnston (sophomore had 2,887 passing yards with 31 TDs, 805 rushing yards with 10 TDs), DB Ronald Smith (128 tackles), DE John Wesley Williamson (72 tackles, 16.5 sacks), WR Sammy Harris (45 receptions, 1,093 yards, 11 TDs); Muscle Shoals — RB Deven Sullivan (1,255 rushing yards with 19 TDs), RB Devonte McDonald (1,198 rushing yards with 16 TDs), OL Corey Ehrlich (6-foot-3, 310-pounder is leader of physical offensive line), LB Garrett Isbell (145 tackles), LB Ethon Felton (135 tackles).
Noteworthy: Spanish Fort seeks the third championship in four years at a school fielding a football program for only eight seasons. Third-year coach Mark Freeman won four AISA state titles at Bessemer Academy prior to leading the Toros to last year’s crown. The top-ranked Toros have compiled an impressive 21-3 record in playoff games and carry a 23-game winning streak into the finals.
After a narrow two-point decision over Daphne in their opener, Spanish Fort’s smallest margin of victory was 23 points until their ten-point win over Saraland last week where they trailed 14-10 entering the final quarter. The Toros defense has given up a touchdown or less in nine games, yielding only eight points per contest.
Muscle Shoals makes its first appearance in the finals in its 52-year history after falling to McAdory in last year’s semifinals. The only other time the Trojans came within one win of the finals was 1988. The Muscle Shoals defense has posted six shutouts and is the stingiest in the AHSAA giving up only 4.7 points per contest.
The fifth-ranked Trojans surrendered 24 points in a one-point loss to Class 6A Bob Jones, but has allowed only 42 in the remaining 13 contests. Coach Scott Basden, in his sixth season, was named Class 3A Coach of the Year in 2007 for leading unbeaten Cordova to a state title. Trojan offensive coordinator Shane Smothers has two sons on the squad: Landon, a sophomore quarterback, and Luke, a senior receiver.
— Compiled by Paul Payne