Photo: Cedar Bluff quarterback Kaden Pack (9) scrambles away from Coosa Christian’s Cade Mickler as Hunter Jenkins (30) provides blocking during the Conquerors’ 94-7 victory in high school football on Oct. 13 in Gadsden. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Coosa Christian head football coach Mark O’Bryant said his team would not take its foot off the gas last Friday (Oct. 13) against Cedar Bluff following an Alabama High School Athletic Association ruling two weeks ago that forfeited four of the Conquerors’ victories this season due to players the AHSAA deemed ineligible.
Having not played in two weeks due to a forfeit win in a non-region game and an open date, Coosa (2-5, 1-3) indeed put the pedal to the metal against the Tigers, setting a school record for points scored in a single game en route to a 94-6 Class 1A Region 7 win at Phillip Ellen Stadium in Gadsden.
The school’s previous single game point total was during the 2018 season, when the Conquerors defeated Valley Head by a score of 71-14. The previous margin of victory was in 1985 when Coosa beat Pell City Christian, 70-0, in the Alabama Christian Athletic Association state championship.
Coosa dominated on both sides of the ball against the Tigers, rolling up 520 total yards while limiting Cedar Bluff (3-5, 1-4) to minus-59, including no passing yards. The Conqueror defense allowed only two first downs and no points, as Cedar Bluff’s lone score came via an 85-yard kick return for a touchdown by Hunter Jenkins. The Coosa defense scored a pair of touchdowns, one after a blocked punt and one following a fumble recovery.
Clete O’Bryant finished with 12 tackles, including six for a loss, along with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery; Cade Mickler had 10 tackles with three for a loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown; Eli Motes had 10 tackles with three for a loss and a sack; D.J. Mackey had seven tackles with three for a loss, a sack and a fumble recovery returned for a TD; and Zayden Franklin and six tackles with three for a loss and a sack.
Junior quarterback John David Justus finished with 353 combined yards and six touchdowns. He was 13 for 23 in passing for 243 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 110 yards and three TDs on nine carries.
Joseph East paced the Conqueror rushing game with 121 yards and four touchdowns on 13 carries. Clete O’Bryant added 46 yards and a touchdown on seven attempts. He also caught two passes for 31 yards.
Dylan Edwards had three receptions for 101 yards and two TDs, while Grayson Malone caught a pair of passes for 56 yards.
Jadan Burns kicked a 33-yard field goal and was a perfect 12-for-12 on extra points.
While not apologizing for not letting up against the Tigers after the outcome was decided, O’Bryant pointed out that all of the above was accomplished without the services of 12 players, including four starters. He said he contacted the AHSAA office on Friday morning and self-reported every 2023-24 transfer. He also did not dress any player who came in from December through August for Friday’s game.
O’Bryant added that he does not intend to run up the score for the remainder of the season if given the opportunity.
“I have no beef against those three schools, so we’ll just line up and play,” he said.
If the Conquerors defeat Appalachian on the road and Woodville at home over the next two weeks, Coosa will earn the third playoff seed in the region. The Conquerors finish the regular season at Victory Christian in Pell City.
“This season, that [third seed] will be the perfect spot for us,” O’Bryant said. “It’s amazing how it works out like that sometimes.”