TALLASSEE – Brandon Baynes rushed for 202 yards and three touchdowns on 34 carries as Tallassee edged Elmore County 20-14 on Friday to give the Tigers the Class 5A, Region 3 championship.
Tallassee (7-3) will play host to Rehobeth (5-5) next week in the first round of the state playoffs. Elmore County ends the season at 4-6.
“It’s a Tallassee-Elmore County game,” Tallassee coach Mike Battles said. “Throw out all the other stuff. It’s a rivalry game. I thought their kids played extremely hard, but I’m proud of our defense … making some big plays. For whatever reason, we were having some issues on offense, but our defense kept us in there.”
The offense might not have been clicking, but Brandon Baynes continued his blue-collar assault on the record books. Friday’s numbers raised him to 2,345 yards and 28 touchdowns on 242 carries for the year. The school record is held by Justin Williams, who rushed for 2,517 yards in 14 games in 1999.
“He puts the team on his back,” Battles said. “He had to get some tough yards tonight. Of course, everybody in the state keys on him. He grew up playing fullback, so he knows how to get the tough yards.”
Last year, Baynes had some big plays as the “alternative” back — similar to Tevin Brooks’ role this year for the Tigers — behind Herman McKenzie.
“We’ve been a good mix (with Brooks), so they can’t just key on one person, they have to key on both of us,” Baynes said. “But it’s getting a little tougher. I knew if we won this game, we’d win the region, so I ran as hard as I have all season. That’s why I broke a lot of tackles because I put all my effort into every single run.”
Baynes also completed 4 of 5 passes for 60 yards, adding another element to his game.
“I’ve been working a lot at quarterback these past two weeks,” he said. “This is my first year ever throwing any pass, besides the eighth grade.”
If he has another “typical” night next week against Rehobeth, Baynes could own the school record for single-season rushing. But that was the last thing on Baynes’ mind Friday night as the players celebrated a region championship.
“The last three years, we’ve been coming up short,” he said. “We’ve come in second, we’ve come in third — we’ve been so close. Finally, our senior year, we came out with a region championship.”