By Stan Veitch/Sports Correspondent
For all his offensive exploits – 235 total yards, but back to that in a moment – Southside High’s Alaric Williams’ biggest play of Friday’s (Oct. 2) football game came on defense in the waning moments of the Panthers’ 24-21 victory over Class 6A, Region 7 foe Albertville.
The visiting Aggies were trying a last-minute drive to possibly tie or win the game and were facing a fourth-and-17 play. As quarterback Wilson Appleton went back for a pass, Williams hit his arm, making the pass sail right into the hands of Southside’s Dakota Harcrow.
“We put our defense on the ropes, and they stepped up,” Southside (5-2, 3-0) coach Ron Daugherty said. “Time and time again, we were moving the ball and we shot ourselves in the foot. I have full confidence in our defensive staff and our defensive players. I just wish we did not put them on the ropes like that.”
That entire last series by Albertville (5-2, 2-2) was doomed by the Panther defense.
On first down at the Aggie 46, Appleton was sacked by Tyler Abernathy for a 7-yard loss. The second-down pass fell incomplete. On third down, Southside’s Greyson Daugherty deflected the pass, setting up the fourth down situation.
Williams’ offensive production included rushing 15 times for 170 yards – including a 74-yard touchdown run – and caught one pass for 65 yards. There were also a couple of runs that were called back by the referees.
“(Williams) ran harder this game than I’ve seen this season,” Ron Daugherty said. “I don’t mean he hasn’t run hard, but he took it to another level tonight. And we’re starting to see how good he is at catching passes.”
Southside started quick, scoring the game’s first 17 points on a 21-yard Kristian Wilmore field goal, a 6-yard scoring pass from Triston Shaw to Gavin Orr and Williams’ long run.
“That quick start was crucial,” Ron Daugherty said. “It made the kids believe even more. We maybe lost our intensity a little but we picked it up again for the win.”
The half ended with Southside holding a 17-7 lead after the Aggies’ Tyler Collins scored from a yard out. On the last play of the half, Southside’s Austin Winningham intercepted an Appleton pass – his first of two for the game.
In the third quarter, Winningham got his second interception and returned it 25 yards, setting up Williams’ touchdown catch.
Albertville scored the next two touchdowns and the rest is history.
This week, Southside travels to region rival Lee-Huntsville and Albertville hosts Arab. The Panthers’ game will be played on Thursday (Oct. 8).