Unbeaten Tornadoes host Marion County in Class 1A showdown


Coach Patrick Plott leads the Pickens County Tornadoes against the Marion County Red Raiders in Friday night’s Class 1A, Region 5 game in Reform. Pickens County and Marion County are 7-0 overall and 5-0 in area play. Pickens County has a No. 5 ranking. Marion County, which won the Class 1A championship last year, is No. 1. (Photo by Michelle Lepianka Carter )


The AHSAA Class 1A championship trophy won’t be handed out Friday night, but the defending champ will be in Reform to take on the undefeated Pickens County Tornadoes.

Coach Patrick Plott’s Pickens County team is 7-0 overall, 5-0 in Region 5 and ranked No. 5 in the latest Alabama Sports Writers Association poll. Marion County, which went 14-1 last season and won the title by beating Linden in Tuscaloosa, has maintained its No. 1 ranking since the preseason poll came out in August.

"When you’ve got the defending state champ coming to your place and they’re ranked No. 1, you’ve got to be ready to play," Plott said. "They put up a lot of points with their wing-T offense. They’re like a machine."

Marion County is averaging 52.6 points per game and allowing 12.0.

"Our front seven on defense will have to play well for us to have a chance to win the game," Plott said.

Terrien Steele leads the Tornadoes with 74 total tackles and 13 sacks. William Stewart will play beside Steele at tackle. Plott said the Tornadoes need a solid showing from linebackers Rhaheem Curry and Chris Hill. Curry averages 10.3 tackles per game and Curry 9.7. The Tornadoes allow 10.1 points per game.

Sophomore Jermarcus Brown is the leading rusher for a Pickens County offense that is averaging 44 points per game. Brown has 1,120 rushing yards with seven touchdowns. Devonte Simon has thrown for 649 yards and eight touchdowns with one interception. Simon has 375 rushing yards and five touchdowns.

"I feel good about where we are offensively, but we’ve got to keep working hard and keep getting better," Plott said.

McKenzie seeks fifth title

Tuscaloosa Academy junior Anna McKenzie expects to be motivated when she races today. After all, five championships are better than four.

McKenzie will be seeking her fifth straight AISA cross country title in the meet at Sokol Park. Tuscaloosa Academy coach Riley Matheson said the girls varsity race will start at 3:30 p.m., with the boys race immediately following. Both groups will compete over a 5-kilometer course.

McKenzie said competitive swimming is her "main sport," but she won her first AISA cross country championship as a seventh-grader.

"I feel like I do have a lot of willpower," Mc

Kenzie said. "It’s always nice to have somebody next to you to push you, but if I don’t have that I’ll have to motivate myself.

"I’m always looking to push myself. I have my own personal goals. I want to see if I’m able to hold a pace and keep it steady by running smart. I’m always looking for my best, and I’ve been training harder than I ever have. My best is 18:29. Breaking that would be nice."

Matheson said Charlotte Anguiano, Julia Schanz, Marianna Block and Anna Katherine Loftin will compete for the Tuscaloosa Academy girls team. All four are eighth-graders. Matheson said Anguiano was second and Schanz fourth in the recent AISA junior varsity competition.

Robey Smalley, Terence Maybaum, Charles Michael DeVenny, Wilson Standeffer and Jack McKenzie are expected to compete for the Tuscaloosa Academy boys team.

Matheson said other teams in the field include Pickens Academy, Lee-Scott Academy, Eastwood Christian Academy and Morgan Academy.

Warriors take another title

The Tuscaloosa Christian School volleyball team won four matches in Oxford over the weekend and earned its second straight Alabama Christian Education Athletic Association championship.

Coach Alan Montgomery’s team, which was seeded No. 1, finished with a 14-match winning streak and a 24-6-1 record. Junior Anna Rice was the most valuable player, and senior Katherine Turner and sophomore Samantha Wright were selected for the all-tournament team.

The Lady Warriors beat No. 2 seed Cullman Christian 25-17, 25-14 and 25-19 in the final. Alayna Marchant had 14 kills, Rice eight and Holly Chandler six. Wright had 15 digs.

The team consisted of seniors Ashley Strickland, Hannah Lake, Turner and Chandler; juniors Savannah Logan, Magen Sample, Alex Gibson, Katey Harris and Rice; sophomores Sydney Marks, Macey Chandler, Rayney Caudle and Wright; and freshman Marchant.

"There is definitely space on the shelf (for the trophy)," Montgomery said. "We did not lose anybody from the 2011 season, so our expectations were very, very high to be able to repeat as state champions this year. We were able to do some things in practice to keep the tempo up and keep them from being complacent.

"It’s hard to get to the top but harder to stay there. I felt like this one was a little bit sweeter just for the reason that we weren’t losing anybody last year. This year we had some seniors. Their final game was a win for the state championship. They’ll be able to take that with them."

Marchant had five kills, Rice four and Logan three as the Lady Warriors opened with a 25-19, 25-14 win over Flint Hill Christian. Tuscaloosa Christian beat Cullman Christian 25-12, 26-24 in the second round. Marchant had nine kills. Rice had five kills. Turner had 11 assists.

Tuscaloosa Christian beat Bethel Christian 25-19, 26-24 in its third match. Rice had 10 kills, and Chandler had two. Turner had 21 assists, and Wright had 10 digs.

Montgomery was assisted by Kayla Schmidt, a former Alabama player.

"She’s been with me for two years now," Montgomery said. "She helped us learn about the game. I think she was one of the main reasons we were able to accomplish some of the things we have."