NOTEBOOK: TCHS’ Tyler Gates thriving as Class 6A playoffs unfold


TCHS quarterback Tyler Gates has passed for 12 touchdowns this season, eight in the past five games. Through 11 games he is 118-for-201 for 1,514 yards. The Wildcats play Friday night at Clay-Chalkville in the Class 6A playoffs. (Photo by Jason Harless)


With a stout defense, a rugged rushing attack and solid kicking, the Tuscaloosa County High School football team won some games without Tyler Gates playing a starring role. But the later it gets in the season, the more Gates seems to be thriving as a senior quarterback.

Gates has thrown eight of his 12 touchdown passes in the last five games — one against Minor, the game-winner against Hillcrest, one against Hoover, two against Pell City and three against Gardendale. The Wildcats won four of those games, losing only to Hoover. Gates threw to wide receiver Rasheed Artis to account for TCHS’ only touchdown against Hoover.

The Wildcats rallied to defeat Gardendale 38-28 last week in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs. TCHS (9-2) travels to face Clay-Chalkville (10-1) in a second-round game Friday.

Coach Lee Gibson and his assistants tweaked the offense a bit after Emiliano Ramirez kicked a couple of field goals in 3-0 wins against Hueytown and Bessemer City. Tylan Perry, formerly a receiver, was moved to running back.

"Great coaching," Gates said. "It all comes down to that. I wasn’t really comfortable at the beginning just because it’s a new offense. You’ve just got to get used to it. I’m a whole lot more comfortable now. The coaches trust me a lot, so that’s why it’s working so good.

"Our offensive line has been getting a whole lot better every week. I feel comfortable that they’re going to do their job and protect me and the running backs."

Perry still knows how to catch the ball. He has 27 receptions and leads the Wildcats with 384 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Allen Cooks has 28 catches for 340 yards and four touchdowns. Artis, who was injured in the Hoover game, caught 19 passes for 205 yards. Brandon Hall leads the team with an average of 16.2 yards per catch. Hall has 12 receptions for 194 yards. Deramie Prince has 14 catches for 178 yards. Tameron Smith has eight catches for 123 yards and a touchdown.

"Everybody we’ve got is a great athlete," Gates said. "I trust all of them. Every week we put in certain plays we think are going to be good for this team or this week. We execute those all week and try to get as good as we can at them and try to execute them on Friday."

Gardendale bolted to a 14-0 lead last Friday, but TCHS got its first touchdown on Gates’ 13-yard pass to Perry. Ted Colburn and Derrick Burns each had a touchdown run, and Perry caught a 30-yard scoring pass from Gates. Cooks scored the Wildcats’ last touchdown on a 14-yard pass from Gates, and Ramirez wrapped up the scoring with a 20-yard field goal.

"They’re not really all mine," Gates said. "If the offensive line doesn’t do their job, I don’t ever get any time to throw. If the receivers don’t get open, I don’t have anybody to throw to, so mostly it’s all about them. It was 14-0, but I told my guys, ‘We’ve still got it. It’s only 4 minutes left to go in the first quarter. Don’t worry. Everybody do their part and we can get back in this.’"

Gates has completed 118 of 201 passes for 1,514 yards with five interceptions.

"He’s playing well," Gibson said. "I’d say he’s a little more comfortable in what we’re doing. We’re still a predominately running team, but the past couple of games I would say we’ve definitely thrown it a little bit more but that’s because the opposing teams have stacked the box to keep us from running. He’s done a great job of coming in and taking what’s given, having poise and confidence and not trying to press it. It’s been great to see him develop into a young man, not just as a quarterback."

Enns takes cross country title

Holy Spirit junior Alex Enns doesn’t have time to get out of shape.

After winning an AHSAA cross country title Saturday, Enns reported for a soccer evaluation meeting on Monday. Enns plans to play soccer and run outdoor track in the spring.

Competing at Moulton, Enns won in the 1A-2A division by completing the 5-kilometer course in a time of 16 minutes, 51.66 seconds. Jack Barganier of Montgomery Academy placed second (17:12.76).

"From the start of the race, I just took it out fast the first mile," said Enns, who placed third in the state meet as a freshman and sophomore.

"I tried to create a gap between me and everyone else. A little bit after the second mile, a kid got probably within 7 seconds of me. The last 800 meters, I just kicked and ended up beating the kid by a little bit over 20 seconds. There was a comfortable margin. He got close, but I led the entire race. I didn’t want to give it up then.

"I was glad to finish in the 16-minute range, but it wasn’t my best time on that course. I did enough to win. I ran a good race, so I was happy about that."

Enns received a gold medal as the individual champion.

"It definitely made it worthwhile to finally win the race," he said. "I had a lot of people congratulating me. I’ve always dreamed of winning this since my freshman year. It’s finally nice to get it done."

The Holy Spirit boys finished in fourth place with 140 points.

"It was the best season of cross country for the boys at this school by far," Enns said.

The Holy Spirit girls placed fourth with 167 points.

All-State runners

Sophomore Kaitlin York of American Christian Academy earned All-State recognition Saturday as she placed second in the AHSAA Class 3A girls cross country championships. York posted a time of 19:19.70. Winfield freshman Emma Holdbrooks was fourth in 19:39.41. ACA seventh-grader Harper Roberts was eighth (20:31.85). ACA sophomore Olivia Goldsby just missed out on making All-State as she placed 16th (21:19.71).

ACA was third in the team standings with 89 points. Winfield was seventh (153) and Sipsey Valley eighth (177). Freshman Katelynn Shamblin led Sipsey Valley. She was 21st (21:49.23).

Nick Klein of Winfield, Jesse Kelley of ACA and Logan Crowell of Sipsey Valley earned All-State recognition as they placed among the top 15 in the AHSAA Class 3A boys cross country meet.

Klein was fourth (17:05.67), Kelley 11th (17:41.63) and Crowell 14th (18.02.98). In the team standings, Sipsey Valley was fifth with 141 points, followed by Winfield (157) and ACA (160).

Aliceville’s McMullen in spotlight

Aliceville’s Jeremy McMullen, a 255-pound sophomore running back, was picked for the top spot in the AHSAA Prep Playoff Spotlight after his performance against Elba in a Class 2A game.

McMullen gained 327 yards on 40 carries and scored five touchdowns in the 42-25 win.

Hubbertville’s Aaron Dillard was nominated for the award. Dillard scored six touchdowns, including the game-winner with 47 seconds left, as the Lions beat Ragland 42-35 in Class 1A. Dillard gained 269 yards on 40 carries and recorded 12 tackles, two for losses.

Reach Andrew Carroll at andrew.carroll@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0223.