In what appeared like another dismal season for Wetumpka football has quickly transformed into something special.
At Hohenburg Field, seniors Charlie Crenshaw and O.J. Jackson combined for a half dozen touchdowns in lifting the Indians to a Class 6A postseason berth with their 53-41 victory over rival Stanhope Elmore on Friday night.
“This means a lot,” said Crenshaw, who hauled in a 31-yard touchdown and ran for a 6-yard score. “Going through adversity during the middle of the season, and for us to come back and capitalize, means we strived through and got great leaders on the team.”
Friday night’s celebration at midfield didn’t seem obtainable a few weeks ago. The Indians (5-4, 4-3 Class 6A, Region 4) had pushed their losing streak to four games following their double-overtime loss to Pelham that put any playoff scenario on life support.
But instead of packing it in, Wetumpka stayed positive and focused on putting Ws in the win column.
“It’s a thrill,” Indians offensive lineman Christian Williams said. “It’s been a long road. …We lost four games straight at one point. I just want to commend the heart of the team and the coaching staff for believing in us and staying positive throughout the season.”
Wetumpka hadn’t made the playoffs since 2010. The school was in position to clinch in 2011, but a violation of AHSAA rules forced the program to forfeit several games.
“There was some controversy my 10th grade year, then last year we weren’t able to go to the playoffs, so to make it to the playoffs for the first time in high school student means whole lot,” said Crenshaw, who rushed for over 100 yards.
With the Indians up 28-21 in the second quarter, Wetumpka’s Stefano Parker’s big tackle on B.J. Smith for a safety proved to be the ultimate momentum killer for Stanhope Elmore. Jackson rumbled in from 12 yards out for the touchdown on the ensuing drive to complete a nine-point swing in less than two minutes.
“Probably four or five plays made the difference,” Stanhope Elmore coach Jeff Foshee said. “We had a couple of plays here and there that were just killers. …That’s football. Four or five plays are going to make the difference between winning and losing.”
The Mustangs (4-5, 2-5) made it interesting. Quarterback Jaryus Wilson hit Tyler Mathews for a 20-yard touchdown and found Jeremy Powers 37 yards deep following a successful on-side kick to slice Wetumpka’s lead to 47-35 with 21 seconds left in the third.
However, Jackson’s 37-yard TD run early in the fourth was enough to keep the visitors at bay.
“This is just a strong statement about the character of our young men,” Wetumpka head coach Tim Perry said. “We went through that tough four-week period Prattville, Spain Park, Homewood and then we went double overtime with Pelham.
“If we didn’t have the unity, character and fight, we could have fractured very easily during that four-week span. There wasn’t any finger-pointing or any blaming, they just came out and went to work.”