Seven Gadsden City gridders sign college scholarships

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By Chris McCarthy/Editor

Gadsden City High’s successful 2014 football season was fueled in large part by its 19-member senior class.

On Wednesday (Feb. 4), seven of those Titan upperclassmen signed college scholarships during a ceremony at the GCHS auditorium.

In alphabetical order, the signings were as follows: Blair Edwards – Tennessee State; Gabe Ford – Georgia Military); Brelon Malone – Mississippi Valley State; Zack Oglesby – Alabama A&M; Orrin Ragland – Murray State; Dante Rudolph – Tennessee Tech; and DD Underwood – Mississippi Valley State.

In their second year under head coach Matt Scott and first season in Class 7A, the Titans finished with a 10-3 record while winning the Region 4 title and making it to the state semifinals. 

“It’s been a long and tough road for these guys with the all demands that we put on them, so this is a very special day,” said GCHS head football coach Matt Scott. “It takes a lot of sacrifice and a lot of hard work that quite frankly, not whole lot of people are willing to do. So I’m proud of these guys not only for what they did on the field but for what they did in the classroom. They’re character guys that provided a lot of leadership for us, and a lot of the things we accomplished this year would not have happened without them.”

At outside linebacker, Edwards racked up a team-high 122 tackles along with eight sacks, eight tackles for loss and three forced fumbles. He was named to the Class 7A ASWA All-State second team. 

Tennessee State Tigers went 6-6 last season, including a 3-5 mark in the Ohio Valley Conference.

“Pound for pound, I feel like Blair is the best linebacker in the state,” said Scott. “It’s really hard to find a guys that can defend the pass and run equally well, and he can do them both. So he’s going to be hard to replace. When he was injured at the end of the season, it was a big difference with him not being out there.”

Although several other players saw time at halfback this past season, Ford still rushed for 1,164 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Georgia Military Bulldogs went 6-4 last year in the National Junior College Athletic Association. 

“Gabe had a phenomenal year,” said Scott. “He didn’t have many games where he carried the ball over 15 times but he still averaged over eight yards a carry. So it’s not always about great numbers.” 

From his safety position, Malone had 69 tackles, including 12 for a loss, three sacks and two interceptions. Underwood had 70 tackles at linebacker. Mississippi Valley State went 2-9 last season in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. 

“Pound for pound, Brelon is one of the best players that you’ll see,” said Scott. “He’s a versatile and multi-talented guy that made some big-time plays. But one of the biggest things about him is the leadership he brought to the team. He’s not so much the vocal leader type, but when he sees the need to tell a teammate to step it up, he’ll do that.

“DD may be the fastest guy I’ve seen on the field. We don’t time out guys in the 40 [yard dash]. You can have guys that turn in a great time in the 40 but they don’t play fast in a game, and the other way around. DD’s recovery speed is unbelievable. He’ll turn a 70-yard gain from an opposing back into a 5-yard gain because he can get there so fast. He’s also a physical guy who will hit you in the mouth.

At defensive end, Oglesby had 48 tackles, including 11 for a loss, and two sacks.

Alabama A&M finished 3-6 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference and 4-8 overall.

“Zack is one of our best forces from a power pass rush standpoint,” said Scott. “He’s got great technique and uses his hands very well. He’s a physical guy that also played the run well, and he’s another guy that made some huge plays for us at the end of the year.”

Ragland, who transferred to GCHS from Gainesville, Ga., caught eight passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns. 

Murray State went 3-8 and 1-7 in the Ohio Valley Conference last season.

“Orrin was a really good addition, and we really appreciated what he did for us,” said Scott. “His skill set is awesome. He’s fast, he’s strong and he’s got great hands. He had quite a few nagging injuries and a heat-related illness during the season, and I’m proud the way he persevered. Our receivers aren’t going to have phenomenal numbers, because every single one of them can play, but Orrin made some of the best catches I’ve seen this year. All the tools are there, and I think his upside is through the roof.”

As a two-way player for most of the season, Rudolph had 77 tackles at safety and rushed for 156 yards and 12 touchdowns at running back.

Tennessee Tech went 5-7, 4-4 in the Ohio Valley Conference. Rudolph joins 2014 and 2011 GCHS graduates Chris McElderry and Avery Rollins on the Golden Eagle roster. 

“The thing that I appreciate about Dante is that as a junior he was the best slot receiver that I’ve ever had and was our Offensive MVP. He approached me in the offseason and offered to play safety because we had a void at that position. Quite honestly, if Dante didn’t play that spot, I don’t know where we would have ended up. Dante was interested in winning games and put his team in front of himself. 

“It’s a rare thing to have guys that are that unselfish, and that great for our younger guys to see. If you can’t get past guys on your team that are worried about their stats and how many carries they get, you’re not going to have a successful team, as far as doing something big in the playoffs.”

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