AHS secondary, Straughn kickoff team grab state spotlight

Published 1:00 pm Wednesday, November 15, 2023

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Andalusia high school’s Cadariyus Love made the most of the passing game – from both teams – to lead the defending Class 4A state champion Bulldogs (10-1) of Hall-of-Fame Coach Trent Taylor to a 43-6 first-round playoff victory over Sipsey Valley High School – and into the AHSAA Playoff Spotlight for round one.

He had four interceptions from his defensive back position and caught eight passes for 131 yards on offense as a wide receiver with one 65-yard reception to set up an Andalusia TD. His key picks foiled Sipsey Valley scoring opportunities and set up his own team in prime position to seal the win. Teammate Nellix Ferrah also had a fifth interception for the Bulldogs defense.   Andalusia quarterback Jake Lathrop was 12-of-23 passing for 185 yards and J’Marion  Burnette added 197 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 14 carries. Zerrick Jones had 107 rushing yards and two scored on 13 carries, and Jordan Skanes had 79 yards and one TD on 14 carries to pace the offense.

Love’s four interceptions was one shy of the state record (5) accomplished by four players – the most recent being Devyn Murphree of J.B. Pennington in a 27-3 win over Falkville in 2006. Love became the 21st player to swipe four interceptions in a single game. Mars Hill Bible’s Joseph Hanson was the most recent. He had four in a 41-27 win over South Lamar in the Class 1A state playoffs in 2008.

Andalusia’s stalwart defensive effort was closely challenged by Covington County neighbor Straughn High School – where Taylor (277-147) coached for 25 years from 1990-2014 compiling a 175-107 record before moving to Andalusia in 2015 where has compiled a 94-25 record in nine seasons.  His first two years as a head coach in 1988 and 1989 were at Kinston.

The Tigers (10-1), coached by Ashley Kilcrease, posted a 45-14 win over Southside-Selma in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs thanks in big part to its kicking game. Kickoff specialist Brenden Bartholomew kicked 6-of-6 extra points, nailed a 32-yard field goal – and kicked three successful onside kicks to help his team overcome an early 14-7 deficit to Southside. Teammates Eli Guilford, Parker Black and Cade Pittman recovered the kicks – all leading to Straughn touchdowns.

Taking advantage of the kicking team’s success was quarterback Layne Grantham, who had 21 rushing plays for 270 yards and four touchdowns.