Edgewood players celebrate with their state championship trophy after defeating Marengo Academy in the Class AA AISA State Championship game in Troy, Ala. on Friday November 21, 2014.
TROY – Their fingerprints were still fresh on their newly claimed trophy. The sweat still streamed off their faces.
And Ryan Bottoms, Herman McKenzie and Tyler Matthews weren’t sure what to do.
The rest of the Edgewood Wildcats were quite experienced at celebrating state championships.
For Bottoms, McKenzie and Matthews, Friday’s 55-25 win over Marengo Academy for the AISA Class AA title was their first.
“This feels amazing. This feels great,” McKenzie said. “Words can’t describe how I feel.”
Their teammates swirled around them, running from picture to picture. McKenzie, Bottoms and Matthews followed them around in near-awe, like a child at their first circus.
“This is like nothing I’ve ever experienced,” Bottoms said. “It’s so great to be a part of such a great team. I’m so happy to be a part of this.”
Each played big parts in Edgewood’s victory.
Bottoms was 11-of-15 passing for 235 yards and four touchdowns. McKenzie ran 12 times for 142 yards and two scores. Matthews led the Wildcats (13-0) with five catches for 91 yards.
“This is their first time in this situation, and they all responded like they should,” Edgewood coach Bobby Carr said.
“I talked to them before the game and told them, ‘This is your time to shine.'”
Bottoms threw TD passes to Daniel Green and Matthews to help Edgewood rally from a 7-0 deficit. McKenzie’s 9-yard TD run in the final minute of the first half made it 22-13.
The Wildcats scored on their first five second-half possessions to pull away. The last was a 47-yard run by McKenzie.
“When we started making all those big plays, in my mind, that’s when I knew we had the game,” McKenzie said. “Everybody was playing great.”
McKenzie ran for more than 900 yards and scored 19 touchdowns this year. Friday was his fourth 100-yard game.
“I pushed him all year,” said senior running back Josh Crawford, whose 105 yards and a touchdown gave him almost 1,100 yards and 27 TDs this year.
“So many people thought it would be chaos with both of us in the backfield,” Crawford said. “We embraced it.”
Bottoms, who threw for almost 2,500 yards with 36 touchdowns against four interceptions, fought nervousness before kickoff Friday.
He still threw to Daniel Green (50 yards), Matthews (11), David Cayton (27) and Jackson Tate (17) for touchdowns.
Crawford also threw to Tate for a touchdown.
“I got great protection from the line and the receivers were absolutely outstanding,” Bottoms said. “Those guys made some great plays for us.
“That’s how we do it at Edgewood.”