It doesn’t take long to chart the progression of Catholic football.
In 1989, Jeff Clark coached the Knights to the Class 2A semifinals, rolling off a string of five wins to open the season, including a 34-7 victory over first-year coach Randy Ragsdale. The Knights would lose close games to Montgomery Academy, just two years removed from winning the 1A state title, and to Autaugaville, which was on its way to the 1A semifinals, but easily established themselves as the best team in Catholic history.
Over the next 26 years, Catholic would make just three trips to the state playoffs (losing by an average score of 41-16) and post four winning seasons. When Aubrey Blackwell took over as head coach in 2015, he was facing a daunting task of building a winner from an organization that had won just 19 games in the prior six seasons.
He’s still got one more game left to play, but Catholic will be playing for a state championship on Thursday just five years after transforming itself from a perennial doormat to a perennial championship contender.
“I’m proud of our guys for doing something that people told me I could never do here,” Blackwell said after beating previously undefeated Montgomery Academy in overtime of the 3A regionals.
Granted, the landscape has changed dramatically since Clark’s days and Blackwell has a ton of weapons at his disposal that no previous Catholic football coach could ever dream of, but even talent isn’t enough until the culture of winning has been established.
Catholic went 4-6 in Blackwell’s first year in 2015 and 8-3 in 2016, losing to Thomasville 20-6 in the first round of the playoffs. By 2017, the Knights would win a region championship and be considered one of the area’s best, only to lose to perennial power UMS-Wright in the second round.
Another second-round loss in 2018, this one to American Christian, was followed by a 21-0 quarterfinal loss at UMS-Wright in 2019. The Knights could rank as one of the area’s top teams, but what would it take to make the next step and be considered one of the state’s best?
“I was one of the ones that was thinking we might only play six or seven games and that COVID would end all football,” Blackwell said. “So it was kind of a blessing in disguise that the season turned out like it did.”
A record-setting Catholic team went 12-0 in 2019, only to be shut out by UMS-Wright in dominating fashion. Losing spring football practice because of coronavirus as well as the opportunity to break in a new quarterback in seven-on-seven drills over the summer had to leave the Knights with some questions entering the 2020 season.
“I feel like there were a lot of questions at the beginning of the season until we got to the playoffs and to the third round, in the same position we were in last year,” junior linebacker TJ. Dudley said. “Last year we had questions about whether we were even good enough to beat that team, but this year it felt like another game on the road and everybody was prepared for it and used to it and everybody came to play.”
The Knights lost the season opener to 5A Pike Road and midway through the season to unbeaten Montgomery Academy, then hit the playoffs on a high note by taking out Bayside Academy (52-21) and Opp (38-0) with early domination, then winning at Thomasville 25-15.
On Friday, Catholic won in overtime at Montgomery Academy, refusing to wear down in the fourth quarter the way so many Montgomery Academy opponents had during the season.
In four playoff wins, Blackwell doubled the number of playoff wins he had at Catholic and the six-year coach now accounts for eight of the Knights’ 11 playoff wins in its history (with Clark winning the other three).
The Knights have arrived.
“I did expect this group of seniors to do something special, I just didn’t know what it was,” Blackwell said. “This group really turned the corner the last two weeks of the regular season. Going into the week of the Trinity game, they learned how to practice a certain way. They’ve practiced that way since that game and it’s paying off for them. Their preparation has been the reason they’re having the success the second half of the season.”
The quarterback, freshman Caleb McCreary, has thrown for 2,838 yards and 34 touchdowns, with much of that going to senior receivers Myles Butler (1258 yards and 12 touchdowns) and DJ Carter (1153 yards and 14 touchdowns). In the backfield, Jeremiah Cobb has rushed for 1,912 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Defensively, the Knights are led by their two outside-turned-inside linebackers, Pat Ryan (148 tackles) and Dudley (112 tackles).
They’ll need their best effort on Thursday morning against Fyffe, a team that played in five of the last six 2A championship games before moving up to 3A this fall and promptly going 14-0. The Red Devils enter the contest with a 44-game winning streak and a 14-game playoff winning streak.
Of course, being the underdog doesn’t faze the Knights.
“We like being the underdog,” Dudley said. “Actually, I think we’ve been the underdog in every playoff game we’ve played. They counted us losing it and we took that as motivation and will take that motivation into the game.”
Catholic wins overtime thriller with MA, advances to 3A finals
Catholic head coach Aubrey Blackwell hugs assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Kirk Johnson after the Knights defeated Montgomery Academy to advance to the 3A finals for the first time in school history.
By Tiom Gayle
The hot topic of conversation among sports fans in this state is the annual Iron Bowl clash on Saturday between Alabama and Auburn.
Unless you’re a Catholic fan, of course, in which case the only conversation is about the Knights’ first-ever trip to the Super 7 Championships at Bryant-Denny Stadium next week.
The Knights (12-2) cleared the final hurdle, taking a step into uncharted waters for a program that had only one semifinal appearance in school history before Friday night. Neither lightning nor a steady rain nor a determined Montgomery Academy team could keep the Knights from rallying from a seven-point deficit in the final five minutes to earn a 35-28 win in overtime at McLemore Field in the 3A semifinals.
“Proud of our guys for doing something that people told me I could never do here,” Catholic coach Aubrey Blackwell said.
Catholic will face Fyffe (14-0), a team which had reached the 2A finals in five of the last six years, in the 3A championship game on Thursday at 10 a.m. at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
“It sunk in as soon as we got off that field in overtime,” said standout linebacker TJ Dudley. “I sat down and had to take it in for a moment. Because you always talk about it, about going to state every year, every team does. But once you get in that position to go and the opportunity is right in front of you, it’s shocking.”
Shocking might have been an accurate description of a Catholic passing game that was held largely in check, causing the Knights to adjust to a running attack which had more success than you might have expected against the Montgomery Academy defensive front. Shocking might have been an accurate description of Catholic’s rushing defense that forced the Eagles to the air for three of their four touchdowns.
Entertaining is a better word. In what was only the third semifinal meeting ever between two city programs, the Catholic-Montgomery Academy game lived up to the hype despite a lightning delay that pushed back the start of the game by 75 minutes, a steady downpour throughout the contest and COVID restrictions that limited the sellout crowd to 1,200 fans.
“I knew it was going to be that way,” Catholic coach Aubrey Blackwell said. “All these kids out here (from both teams) had unbelievable years and played their tails off. That right there is what high school football is all about. It’s one of the best football games I’ve ever seen.”
It certainly featured a little of everything, with each coach reaching deep into his bag of tricks to counter the opposing coaches’ strategic schemes. When Catholic won the toss and chose the ball for overtime, Blackwell thought back to all those late-in-the-week practice sessions that had practiced for just this moment. There were plays designed to run behind linebacker-turned-H-backs Dudley and Pat Ryan and pass plays out of varying formations.
Then he scrapped it all and went with what was hot in the fourth quarter. Tailback Jeremiah Cobb ran left for seven yards on the stretch play, then broke up the middle almost untouched on the next play for the final three yards and a 35-28 lead.
Of course, Blackwell didn’t know which plays he would need for the next overtime period, which had to be in the back of his mind as Jashawn Cooper rumbled for six yards on Montgomery Academy’s first overtime possession from the 10-yard line.
An illegal procedure penalty on the next play, however stopped the Eagles dead in their tracks. Cooper ran for no gain, Britton Kohn’s third-down pass was inches short of Jackson Kelly in the end zone and Kohn’s fourth-down pass for Kelly was intercepted by Ryan to send the Knights to Tuscaloosa.
“Our guys played relentless, they’ve done that all year,” Blackwell said. “Those guys (Ryan and Dudley) did what we expected them to do and that was to make plays for us. They played a great game and what a great play by Pat. We were screaming that they had done it earlier on the fourth down and eight and I didn’t think he would see it, but he sure did. Went right to it and what a great job of paying attention to the game.”
Catholic had the upper hand for much of the game, thanks to a defensive effort that held Cooper to 92 yards on 23 carries, while his older brother Jamal had 11 yards on seven carries and Kohn had 30 yards on 12 carries.
“We switched a lot of things up from the first time we played them and I honestly felt like we underestimated them a little bit last time,” said Dudley, who had 10 tackles and a crucial pass breakup on defense. “When we came back out this time, the team knew what we had to do to win the game.”
In the first meeting, a Montgomery Academy win in late September on the same field, the Eagles ran their way to victory while their defense held Catholic in check. On Friday night, Montgomery Academy was forced to go to the air while Catholic churned out more impressive runs with Cobb getting 109 yards on 21 carries.
Catholic used five consecutive runs by Cobb to set up a 31-yard touchdown pass from Caleb McCreary to Johnathan Rhoden for the first points of the game late in the first quarter. The Knights got two more touchdowns out of short Dudley runs from Wildcat formation in the third quarter.
Montgomery Academy, meanwhile, tied the game at 7-7 late in the second quarter on a 37-yard halfback pass from Jamal Cooper to Alex Kohn and again at 21-21 with a 70-yard pass from Britton Kohn to Chance Wilson and a 39-yard pass from Kohn to Jamal Cooper with 7:10 remaining.
“We’ve been hiding our passing all year,” MA coach Robert Johnson said. “If you look at the last couple of games, we’ve caught the ball really, really well. We knew we’d have to use it.”
“We were worried about it, too,” Blackwell noted. “When they started motioning both (Cooper) guys out of the box, they presented something we hadn’t seen before. Kohn is one heck of a football player and made some plays for them and some big-time throws tonight, too.”
Catholic’s next drive lasted just three plays. On third and seven, McCreary threw over the middle but Jashawn Cooper was there for the interception and 19-yard return to the Catholic 16. Four plays later, Jashawn Cooper crashed over for the touchdown and suddenly MA had the upper hand with 4:13 remaining.
Despite the offensive breakdown, Blackwell was quick with words of encouragement for his freshman quarterback.
“I’m used to having senior quarterbacks and he’s a freshman,” Blackwell said. “And if I would have gotten mad or gotten upset with him … we needed him on those last two drives. I’ve learned with Caleb just stay positive with him and he’ll make things happen for you.”
“At the beginning of the season, when he threw a pick, he would get down on himself,” Dudley said. “Now, he hasn’t thrown one in a while but when he did, he shook it off and was ready for the next possession when we got the ball.”
McCreary came out firing, hitting DJ Carter for 19 yards on the right sideline, coming back left for 15 yards to Justin Rose, then flipping a pass in the left flat for Cobb, who turned it into a 51-yard sprint for the end zone with 2:30 remaining.
Britton Kohn started the ensuing drive with an 18-yard pass to Carter Wallis, but when he looked for Wallis a little over a minute later, his pass hung in the air and LJ Green intercepted to force overtime and, ultimately, end Montgomery Academy’s remarkable season at 13-1.
“It was a heck of a season,” Johnson said. “I love these guys and these coaches. We played our hearts out, both teams did, and we just came up a play or two short.”
Catholic's DJ Carter: 'Like our chances against everybody'
By Tim Gayle
The strategy for any high school quarterback changes somewhat when he knows he has Myles Butler and DJ Carter lining up on opposite ends of the line.
“We like our chances against everybody,” Carter said. “In the huddle, when we know it’s a pass play, we tell him, ‘I’ve got this guy.’”
More often than not, Carter has proven to be right. The senior has 47 catches this season, averaging an astounding 23.5 yards per reception and four catches a game. His 1,104 receiving yards includes a team-best 14 touchdowns and that’s before you figure in his carries on jet sweeps and his yardage on kickoff returns.
Carter used to line up in the backfield and return punts as well, but this season Catholic coach Aubrey Blackwell has attempted to lighten the burden on his big-play specialist a little by taking him off of punt returns and leaving him strictly at receiver.
“It’s freed him up to strictly concentrate on playing receiver and he’s made some big plays,” Blackwell said. “He’s been very versatile for us.”
Carter has 10 carries for 74 yards and a touchdown and nine kickoff returns for 279 yards – an average of 31 yards per return – but his ability to turn any reception into a touchdown makes him one of the most dangerous receivers in the state.
“It’s a lot less nerve-wracking, not having to do so much, but hopefully it allows me to get better at my normal position because I’m playing it a lot more and not having to move around as much,” Carter said. “Last year, it was more so trying to be good at everything, but now I’m not having to do as much I can be great at the little things.”
The Knights, like any team still alive in the playoffs, have honed their talents throughout the season, having to make up for a missed spring training session during the season. For Catholic, that means breaking in freshman quarterback Caleb McCreary and getting McCreary on the same page with his talented receivers.
“We had to be patient with him,” Carter said. “Ultimately, we can’t make him grow up any faster. He’s going to have his moments, but he’s still a kid, he’s still young. But we keep telling him, hey, you’ve got to grow up fast, we can’t let you stay a kid forever.”
The Knights (11-2) travel to Montgomery Academy (13-0) for the 3A semifinals on Friday, scene of the last loss by Catholic this season. Catholic has reeled off seven straight wins since losing to the Eagles 32-21 in late September.
“We came out very flat,” Carter recalled. “We came out like we had already won the game. We came out super flat and they hit us in the mouth. We picked it up in the second half and got a lot of energy back but you’ve got to play like that for four quarters.
“We have a much better idea of how they’re going to play us compared to that first game. In the first game, we kind of had to guess because normally how teams would play other people is not how they play us because of the weapons we have on offense. They gave us a look we hadn’t seen before, we hadn’t prepared for. We made some adjustments at halftime, that’s why we picked it up in the second half. Now, we know how they’re going to play us so we’ve got a much better chance.”
For the past few weeks, Carter has been playing for his mother, a dedicated Catholic fan and team mother who has been hospitalized with an illness. With COVID restrictions in place at every medical facility, the senior generally has to rely on others to tell him about his mother’s improvement.
“I tell them to do their best to keep me updated on how she’s doing,” he said. “It really helps when you have as big a support cast behind you as I do.”
That support cast includes the coaches and everyone associated with Catholic football.
“She’s been watching the last three games from a hospital bed,” Blackwell said. “We’ve been constantly praying for her and the guys have lifted her up and are playing these games for her. She’s constantly involved in our program and is one of our moms that serves breakfast on Thursday mornings. It’s been nerve-wracking for DJ but he’s handled it very maturely. These last few games, he’s played them for her and it’s been humbling to watch.”
Not surprisingly, Carter has responded with two of his best games in the second round and quarterfinals, catching two passes for 124 yards and a touchdown in the win over Opp and catching two passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns in the win at Thomasville.
But he’s not alone. The Knights are averaging 38 points per game in the playoffs, playing their best football at the right time of the year.
“We’re on a roll right now, offensively and defensively,” Carter said. “On both sides of the ball we’re rocking with a lot of confidence and a team with confidence is scary.”
Catholic disposes of Thomasville, meets MA in semifinals
Jeremiah Cobb rushed for 265 yards on 20 carries as Catholic amassed 547 yards of offense in a 24-15 win at Thomasville on Friday night.
The Knights (11-2) advanced to the semifinals for the second time in school history and will face Montgomery Academy next Friday at McLemore Field.
“We put together a really outstanding team effort tonight,” Catholic coach Aubrey Blackwell said. “We’ve jelled really well. We’ve got guys in the right spot and are starting to get continuity, especially in the trenches on both sides of the ball. We played an outstanding football game tonight.”
Catholic jumped out to a 14-0 halftime lead with a 40-yard pass from Caleb McCreary to DJ Carter and a 70-yard run by Cobb, who established a career high with his performance on Friday night.
“He played really well,” Blackwell said. “They were intentional on trying to take away the passing game to Myles (Butler) and DJ. We were able to block up front and block well. That’s what we’ve been needing the whole year. That extra presence in the running game paid off well for us tonight.”
Judd Osten booted a 33-yard field goal with 10:31 remaining in the game to put Catholic on top 17-0 before the Tigers finally broke loose with a 70-yard touchdown pass from Carter Hankins to Javian Johnson.
Thomasville (10-2) was held to 90 yards rushing on 32 carries, while Hankins completed 10 of 23 passes for 157 yards, most on it coming on the one long pass to Johnson.
Catholic responded with a touchdown drive of its own as McCreary connected with Butler on a 27-yard scoring toss with 7:17 left in the game. McCreary completed 9 of 16 passes for 242 yards, with Carter and Butler combining for 217 yards on eight receptions.
Thomasville took advantage of four major-distance penalties on its ensuing drive as Hankins threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Chandler Guerra. Quez Jackson ran in the two-point conversion to cut the deficit to 24-15, but Catholic recovered the onsides kick and ran out the clock.
“We played excellent up front on defense,” Blackwell said, “and Pat Ryan had 15 or 16 tackles. He had a big night. The defense played extremely well.”
The win marked the second time Catholic has advanced to the semifinals, reaching that point in 1989 before losing to Georgiana. This year’s semifinal game is a rematch of a game won by Montgomery Academy (32-21) on Sept. 25.
KNIGHTS SHUTOUT OPP 38-0 TO ADVANCE TO THE 3RD ROUND
DJ Carter sprints down the sideline to set up the Knights' first score.
By Eddie Olzsewski
Catholic's Kylon Griffin returns punt down the sideline for a touchdown.
By Eddie Olzsewski
Jeremiah Cobb rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries to lead Catholic to an easy 38-0 win over the Bobcats in the second round of the 3A state playoffs.
Cobb just missed a much bigger night, having a 65-yard touchdown reception and a 38-yard touchdown run both wiped out by penalties.
Opp (8-4) had trouble generating any offense, but the Knights were a little slow as well. A 44-yard DJ Carter reception set up a 41-yard field goal by Judd Osten on Catholic’s second possession of the game for a 3-0 lead and an LJ Green interception minutes later set up Cobb’s 2-yard touchdown run for a 10-0 lead.
After Opp missed a field goal attempt on its next possession, the Knights struck quickly with an 80-yard pass from Caleb McCreary to Carter. Carter finished as the game’s leading receiver with 124 yards on two receptions.
The Knights put the game out of reach late in the first half, taking over with a minute left and marching goalward with a touchdown pass to Myles Butler for a 24-0 halftime lead. Butler finished with 101 yards on five catches.
After a three and out on Opp’s first possession of the second half, Kylon Griffin returned the ensuing punt 75 yards for a touchdown. The Knights added a fourth-quarter score with a 23-yard scoring run by EJ Babies.
McCreary completed 8 of 19 passes for 222 yards and a pair of touchdown passes. Defensively, the Knights got 14 tackles from Pat Ryan and 12 tackles from T.J. Dudley.
Catholic (10-2) reached the quarterfinals for the second consecutive year, a first in the history of the program. The Knights will travel to Thomasville for the 3A quarterfinals next week.
Congratulations! Jeremiah Cobb, selected Player of the Week!
Congratulations to SR WR Myles Butler on his selection to the North South All-Star Game.
Set to be played at The University of South Alabama on December 19th.
Big plays by Butler help Catholic rout Bayside
By Tim Gayle
Welcome to the postseason.
After missing the last two weeks with an injured left wrist, Catholic’s Myles Butler had a rough start to Friday’s first-round game with Bayside Academy.
He put a move on a defender to get open on a curl pattern and dropped the first pass from Caleb McCreary. The second attempt was even worse, bouncing up in the air off of his hands where only fate and a fast-reacting teammate kept it from being intercepted and possibly returned for a touchdown.
“It’s not even fully healed yet,” Butler said of his left wrist. “It’s still a little broken but no excuses. I had a lot of nerves going, worrying about me getting hit on it and was it going to be the same. So I did drop two passes, but I had to face the adversity and bounce back from it. That’s what this game teaches, how you’re going to overcome adversity. I came back strong with three TDs and helped my team with a ‘dub.’”
Butler settled in after the shaky start, catching the next three passes for touchdowns to lead the big-play Knights to a surprisingly easy 52-21 rout of the Admirals in the first round of the 3A playoffs.
Catholic (9-2) remains home and plays Opp (8-3) in a second-round game next Friday. Bayside Academy ends the season at 8-3.
“Bayside’s a good team,” Catholic coach Aubrey Blackwell said. “We made some really big plays tonight. I’m loving how our kids are jelling. It’s just a tribute to how we made big plays tonight and had a lot of good breaks go our way early in this game.”
Butler was the reason for many of the early breaks. The senior sprinted down the left sideline on the Knights’ next possession and gathered in McCreary’s pass on the Bayside 40 and continued untouched into the end zone to complete a 68-yard play for a 7-0 lead.
The next pass toward Butler was underthrown and broken up by Bayside’s Steadman Jones, but after a Jones’ fumble on the final play of the first quarter gave the ball back to the Knights, Catholic lined up with three wideouts on the right side of the field and threw to the receiver (Butler) on the left side for a 15-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
After Bayside got on the scoreboard with an 81-yard pass to running back Jeremy Loper, McCreary threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to DJ Carter, then hit Butler with another pass at the 1 and the senior dove into the end zone for his third scoring reception and a 28-7 lead as the rout was on.
“Just like we’ve told him before, we’re going to be confident in him,” Blackwell said. “He’s carried us a bunch and we’re going to continue to feed him the ball regardless of the first couple of bad plays. Just because a guy drops a couple of passes, I’m not going to quit on him.”
If the Admirals had any hopes of rallying, Kylon Griffin put the exclamation point on the rout, countering an 18-yard touchdown pass from Zach Kittrell to John Luke Warner with 49 seconds remaining in the first half by returning the ensuing kickoff 74 yards to set up Judd Osten’s 39-yard field goal for a 31-14 lead.
The Catholic junior followed that highlight with an 86-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half and added a pick-six that took the points off the scoreboard with a penalty, but still set up a 10-yard touchdown run by Jeremiah Cobb for a 45-14 lead.
“’Three’ came in with a kick return back, a pick-six back,” Butler said. “That’s D-I football. He’s a Power Five cornerback and that’s the way he’s going to play.”
Butler has made a habit of making those types of plays as well. Two targets resulted in drops but the next three went for 103 yards and three touchdowns. Butler wasn’t sure what to expect when he took the field for Friday’s game but he left with a smile and a sense of accomplishment.
“There were a lot of questions,” Butler said. “Can I take contact? Can I block? But all those questions got answered tonight and it showed me I can play my ball just like I’ve been playing, with this wrist like this.”
Catholic wins back-to-back region titles for first time in school history
By Tim Gayle
Catholic's Jeremiah Cobb runs behind Will Driver's block on Trinity defender Jack Patty
To win the 3A Region 4 title, both Trinity and Catholic knew every inch would be contested, opportunities would be rare and the team that made the fewest mistakes would likely win the battle.
Catholic made the most of three Trinity turnovers, cashing in two of them for touchdowns and sealing the win with the third as the Knights won the first back-to-back region titles in school history with a 13-10 victory at Ragsdale-Boykin Field on Friday night.
Since the Alabama High School Athletic Association switched from areas to regions in 2000, Catholic has won just three region titles and all have come in the last four years under a group of seniors that turned the program around from a perennial doormat to a team that expected to win.
“We absolutely love it,” Catholic senior defensive lineman Marcus Dees said. “We want to keep it and make that a part of our culture here.”
The Knights (7-2) improved to 6-0 in region play with a game remaining at Goshen next week before hosting the first round of the 3A state playoffs at home on Nov. 6 against a Region 1 opponent. They won Friday’s game despite a rushing attack that rarely found any daylight against the Trinity defense and despite 123 yards in penalties.
“We had a lot of times where we just shot our toes off, we had so many penalties and little mistakes that stopped us from finishing drives and put us behind the chains,” Catholic coach Aubrey Blackwell said. “We knew this game was going to be like this. Trinity is a really good football team. Their defense is so tough and their kids play really hard. We didn’t give up, the kids kept finding a way to fight and win and I’m just really proud of their unbelievable effort tonight.”
A scoreless first half would turn on the play of an unlikely hero as sophomore defender LJ Green read John David Bonner’s eyes, stepped in front of a pass for Dawson Criswell and sprinted 36 yards with the interception for a touchdown with 2:30 remaining in the first half.
“He knew it was coming,” Blackwell said. “He practiced that route a bunch all week and he did a great job of making a play in a big situation. That was huge for a sophomore in his first year of playing football.”
Dees called the play “a great momentum boost for us.
“What’s crazy is we had to talk to him to get him out here because he’s a basketball player. He stepped up for us tonight.”
Callan Gadilhe’s extra-point attempt was blocked by Jay Tymes, leaving the score at 6-0.
Trinity put together a 12-play drive on its initial possession of the second half to cut the lead in half on a 36-yard field goal by Grayden Flowers, but the Wildcats were in dire need of a turnover, generating just 14 rushing yards and 128 total yards through the first three quarters.
But it was Catholic that would generate the next break. Bonner was pressured by a trio of defenders that forced a bad throw and Patrick Ryan was there for the Knights’ second interception of the night. His nine-yard return set up Catholic at the Trinity 27 and Jeremiah Cobb, who finished with 89 yards on 23 carries, ran 16 yards on first down, then carried the final yard six plays later for a 13-3 lead.
Trinity would score on a 2-yard run by Walton Cherry with 3:23 remaining, but the Knights ran most of the time off of the clock before punting back with 47.8 seconds left. Bonner’s first-down pass to William Roberson covered 14 yards but his next attempt, as he rolled right under pressure, was intercepted by Johnathan Rhoden.
“We knew that we couldn’t give up big plays and we did,” Trinity coach Granger Shook said. “We knew that we couldn’t give them extra opportunities and we turned the ball over way too many times. Two turnovers turned into two touchdowns. That was the difference in the game. But I was proud of the way our kids continued to compete. Watching film on this game last year, our kids laid down. This year, they did not. They scratched and clawed and got back in the game and expected to win.”
Catholic, which had allowed just 63 total yards in the first half, gave up twice that (134) in the second half but made the stops when it counted.
“I learned that through anything we can prevail, we can fight through it as long as we put our heart to it and our mind to it and fight for what we believe in,” Dees said. “We knew it was going to be a dogfight from the beginning but that we would come out on top as long as we kept applying the pressure and make sure our (offensive) guys had time to recuperate.”
With the win, Catholic extended it region winning streak to 12 and has won 21 of its last 22 region games dating back to a 2017 loss to Trinity. The Wildcats (6-2) dropped to 5-1 in region play with a region game at Childersburg next week followed by a home game with St. James on Oct. 30 before hosting the first round of the 3A playoffs on Nov. 6.
“Last year in this game, our kids didn’t expect to win and our kids didn’t fight back into the game,” Shook said. “We did tonight. That is promising for this senior bunch for this year.”
Happy Homecoming 2020!
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CONGRATULATIONS TO JR LINEBACKER PATRICK RYAN FOR HIS PERFORMANCE VS PIKE COUNTY!
Catholic 42, Childersburg 0
Jeremiah Cobb rushed for 160 yards and four touchdowns on 17 carries to lead Catholic to an easy homecoming victory over Childersburg on Thursday night.
The Knights (6-2) improved to 5-0 in 3A Region 4 play and will settle the region championship next Friday against Trinity, who plays at Dadeville on Friday, at Ragsdale-Boykin Field.
Caleb McCreary was 10 of 17 for 151 yards and a touchdown, with Myles Butler catching five of those passes for 109 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown pass on the Knights’ second possession.
Butler’s first contribution came a little earlier in the game. After Childersburg went three and out, Butler returned the ensuing punt 27 yards to the Childersburg 23-yard line to set up Cobb’s scoring run a play later.
Late in the first half, Catholic drove for another score, with Cobb getting three carries for 24 yards and Butler pulling in a 20-yard pass to set up Cobb’s 9-yard scoring run.
The Knights opened the second half in similar fashion, capping a 12-play drive with another 9-yard touchdown run by Cobb to give Catholic a 28-0 lead.
Cobb scored again on a three-yard run set up by a 16-yard run by receiver DJ Carter to make it 35-0 before the reserves played the remainder of the game.
Pat Ryan had eight tackles, while Spencer Bach had seven tackles and an interception to lead the Catholic defense, which held Childersburg to 56 rushing yards and 90 total yards.
Catholic's Butler successful, but still under the radar
By Tim Gayle
Myles Butler was one of the top players on a Catholic basketball team that was one of the most successful in school history, but that didn’t stop him from squeezing in time to work on football. Every day during the winter and even when coronavirus shut down school in March, you could always find the senior working on shaving another tenth of a second off his 40-yard dash time.
“He would go to basketball practice in the morning and in the afternoon he would go to Parisi Speed School or he go over to the Shakespeare Festival (trails) or he was out here – every single day – running sprints,” Catholic coach Aubrey Blackwell said. “The work he’s put in has been incredible. Watching how hard he’s worked and the reward (from college recruiters) he’s gotten so far is discouraging.”
That’s because the coronavirus pandemic shut down all aspects of college recruiting this year. Summer football camps were shut down and recruiting visits from college coaches to high schools in August were at a standstill. While some activities were stalled, however, Butler took the time to work on improving his ability as one of the area’s most impressive receivers.
“I had to,” he said. “I knew me just sitting around here, because we’re in a pandemic, wasn’t going to get me anywhere so I had to go out there and train a lot. I worked a lot on my speed, worked on my routes, worked on my hands. There was a lot of stuff I worked on during the pandemic.”
Butler’s story is a bit unusual. Because of the pandemic, college recruiters who last saw him in 2019 remember a talented 6-foot receiver who ran the 40-yard dash in a fast but not blazing 4.7 seconds. He’s not the same player but college recruiters wouldn’t know it.
“There are a lot of kids in a similar situation,” said Catholic assistant coach Kirk Johnson, who coordinates the Knights’ recruiting contacts with college coaches. “Myles, as a freshman, was 5-foot-4, 130 pounds. His sophomore year, he was 5-9, 145 pounds. His junior year, he’s 6-feet, 170 pounds and as a senior, he’s 6-3, 190. But coaches haven’t seen him since he was 6-foot, 170 pounds and he doesn’t really have the over-the-top speed. Nobody really wants a Division I-A receiver that’s barely 6-foot and runs a 4.7 but when you’re 6-3, 190, and you run a low 4.7, high 4.6, that’s totally different.
“He’s suffering from the fact that no one has been out here since last January and he couldn’t go to camps (this past summer) to showcase what he could do live. Everybody’s being recruited off their junior films, which is good for some kids, but it’s bad for others.
“Is he going to sign somewhere? Yes. Where is it going to be is about the craziest thing ever.”
Butler, like a lot of high school seniors, wanted to use the time between the end of his junior football season and the start of his senior year to make an impression on college recruiters.
“There are a lot of people trying to reach out to me, but they can’t physically come see me because of COVID-19,” he said. “I know I’ve got people looking at me but at the same time they don’t know how I look in person. They want to come see me in person but COVID is holding them back.
“It is very frustrating. I know (over the summer) we would have gone to a lot of seven-on-seven camps and gotten me out there – I was going to an Alabama camp this summer – but all of that has gone down the drain because of COVID.”
Butler already owns the school record for career receiving yards (1,639) and single-season receiving yards (707 entering Thursday’s game with Childersburg) but there’s more to the story than just a talented senior catching passes. Butler and fellow receiver DJ Carter (an Air Force commitment) are a major reason for the Knights’ offensive success this season, particularly freshman quarterback Caleb McCreary.
“The biggest thing with him this year has been his leadership for Caleb,” Blackwell said. “The after-practice stuff where they’re running routes and working on timing or when Caleb makes a bad decision in a game and he comes to him and says shake it off, let’s go to the next play. That’s been his biggest attribute, how he’s helped bring Caleb along, but Caleb has 100 percent confidence that if he’s one-on-one in a matchup, Myles has got a good chance to catch that ball no matter where Caleb puts it.”
That started during the spring, Butler said, when he first met the freshman who transferred from St. James.
“It really started when I found out he was coming, during the pandemic,” Butler said. “We couldn’t really do anything as a team, but I’d get with him, one on one, so we could understand each other and he would be able to trust me. We’d go somewhere and work out, where we could understand each other, what he could throw, what he couldn’t throw, so there was a lot of trust.
“It carried over. I wasn’t thinking he could throw the ball the way he threw it because he was a freshman, but he is an above-average freshman quarterback.”
Butler caught 35 passes for 599 yards and six touchdowns last season, but his numbers are even more impressive this season. He is averaging 22.8 yards every time he touches the ball, gaining 35 rushing yards on a pair of carries, returning eight punts for 146 yards and catching 29 passes for 707 yards and six touchdowns.
As defenses concentrate more and more on denying him the ball, Blackwell gets more and more frustrated that he couldn’t showcase his star in summer seven-on-seven camps for college recruiters.
“You can’t get to know him, you don’t see how he carries himself on the field, you don’t see his presence and his confidence in what he does, you don’t see how well he moves to the football,” Blackwell said. “It’s tough in high school football to throw a ball to one kid 25 times a game. The last two football games, Pike County and Montgomery Academy have left two people on him regardless of what else is going on so we’ve tried to become more creative to get him open and get him more one-on-one matchups.”
Blackwell remembers the time when Butler was an undersized running back, receiver and defensive back in pee-wee ball, when Butler’s mother spoke of her concerns for her son when he was a freshman on the varsity, asking Blackwell if Butler could spend the season as a manager instead.
“He still hasn’t plateaued in height or in speed,” Blackwell noted. “He’s still getting faster as he goes, he’s still getting lean and tall.”
Butler admits recruiting concerns are in the back of his mind, but right now he’s more concerned with helping the Knights become a championship contender, starting with tonight’s region matchup with Childersburg.
“We’ve got great athletes, we just have to be more disciplined in what we do and know all the little things,” he said. “We can make the big plays but we’ve got to fix the little things.”
Butler knows a little about big plays and correcting little mistakes. He worked hard on improving his speed this offseason and says working on the little things has paid off for him in a big way.
“When I catch the ball and breakaway, I know I’ve worked on my speed and have gotten faster,” Butler said. “When I scored my first touchdown against Pike Road, I caught the screen (and outran everyone to the end zone) and I was like, ‘Yeah, I’ve gotten faster.’ It really paid off.”
Knights Stadium was in excellent shape for senior night tonight!!
Good luck to our former Knights in their college games this week!
Johnathan Rhoden warms up versus Beulah and helped reel in a 50 yard TD pass from Caleb McCreary Friday night.
Catholic 13, Pike County 12
BRUNDIDGE – Caleb McCreary threw a pair of touchdown passes to help the Knights escape with a one-point win over Pike County in a 3A Region 4 matchup on Friday night.
The freshman’s first scoring toss was a third-and-31 pass to Johnathan Rhoden for 49 yards and a 6-0 lead.
Pike County (2-4) answered two drives later with a 95-yard touchdown run, then forged ahead in the defensive battle with a 7-yard run in the fourth quarter for a 12-6 lead.
Catholic (5-2) responded with a drive down the field, scoring with five minutes remaining on a 30-yard pass from McCreary to DJ Carter.
McCreary completed 9 of 15 passes for 175 yards, while the Knights picked up 145 rushing yards on 22 carries. Jeremiah Cobb led Catholic with 94 yards on 14 carries. Carter finished with 129 yards rushing and receiving, getting 48 yards on four carries and 81 yards on four receptions.
Pike County turned the game into a defensive battle with a strong rushing attack, gaining 254 yards on 43 carries while throwing the ball just eight times.
Pat Ryan and TJ Dudley each had 11 tackles to lead the Catholic defensive effort, with Marcus Dees adding eight.
Congratulations to FR QB Caleb McCreary for being selected the WSFA Fever Player of the Week for his performance versus Beulah!
Catholic romps over Beulah
Catholic's freshman quarterback Caleb McCreary had a field day against Beulah
From the second quarter, there was a shortened clock.
Montgomery Catholic used only about 10 plays to score five touchdowns before region opponent Beulah could wave a white flag. By the time the game was over the Knights recorded an easy 41-7 victory.
Catholic quarterback Caleb McCreary connected with Myles Butler on a pair of passes before Jeremiah Cobb dashed 10 yards for the opening touchdown.
The Knights posted a trio of quick scores with an aerial assault. First McCreary threw to Butler for a 41 yard touchdown pass. After Butler returned a Beulah punt for 32 yards, McCreary connected with Jamarion Augustus with a 44 yard touchdown pass.
Butler positioned the Knights well once again with a 42 yard punt return. Continuing a healthy habit McCreary threw to DJ Carter on the first play of the drive for a 29 yard touchdown pass.
The next Catholic drive was a much longer process requiring three plays. The first was a 21 yard pick up by Cobb. McCreary went back to the air and connected with Carter on back to back passes, the last of which was another touchdown strike of 14 yards.
The sixth Knights touchdown came with a bit more effort. On the eighth play of the drive McCreary found Carter from the 24 yard line and the duo posted another score.
It was no surprise when Catholic coach Aubrey Blackwell said after the game, “We were very efficient offensively and could not have asked for a better showing tonight. I’m proud of our guys.”
McCreary, a freshman that is improving rapidly, was good on eight of 10 passing attempts for 187 yards to go along with his many touchdown passes.
Butler’s trio of receptions totaled 67 yards and his trio of punt returns totaled 94 yards. Carter collected 96 yards on his 4 receptions.
Cobb ran the ball twice for 31 yards.
Catholic accumulated 127 yards rushing to bring the total offense to 314 yards. Beulah could do no better than 10 yards of total offense.
“It was a good night for our seniors and proud of our kids for staying focused and playing as a team. Our defense played excellent football tonight only allowing ten yards 10 of offense. It was a great effort,” Blackwell surmised.
Catholic is now 4-1 overall and 3-0 in the region. The Knights will face Capital City Conference rival Montgomery Academy on the road next week in a non-region event.
Beulah will go to Childersburg next week and is winless in 2020.
Montgomery Catholic’s passing game too much for Reeltown
BY JORDAN D. HILL
Reeltown's Sedarico Brooks (11) dives over a defender while being tackled during the team's game against Montgomery Catholic on Friday in Reeltown.
Montgomery Catholic's Caleb McCreary (1) throws during the team's game at Reeltown on Friday. McCreary threw for 256 yards.
REELTOWN — After an hour-and-a-half lightning delay Friday, the Reeltown Rebels finally returned to the field to square off with Montgomery Catholic.
But even though the storms in the sky finally dissipated, it was the Knights’ aerial attack that struck the Rebels early and often.
Reeltown (2-2, 1-1) had no answer for Montgomery Catholic’s Caleb McCreary, who threw for 256 yards and a pair of touchdowns en route to a 35-20 victory for the Knights. The loss was a tough blow for the Rebels, who fell one game behind the Knights in what is sure to be a tight race in Region 4-3A.
The Rebels jumped on the board late in the first quarter after Gabe Bryant’s 38-yard pass to Marcus Haynes set up a two-yard touchdown run, but Montgomery Catholic answered right back and only got rolling from there.
The Knights answered Brooks’ score nearly two minutes later when Caleb McCreary hit DJ Carter for a 39-yard touchdown, and the extra point gave them a slim 7-6 lead. The lead held steady into the second quarter when McCreary really got into a rhythm, completing two consecutive passes for 56 yards to set up Jeremiah Cobb’s 19-yard touchdown run.
Cobb’s scamper to the end zone left Reeltown down 14-6 with 8:08 remaining before halftime.
After another promising Reeltown drive stalled out, McCreary returned from the sideline ready to fling the ball downfield. He connected on yet another deep ball — this to Myles Butler for a 38-yard gain — before TJ Dudley pushed his way forward on a seven-yard touchdown run with under five minutes to go in the quarter.
The Rebels tried to keep it a two-possession game going into the break, but McCreary and the Knights were relentless.
Following a Reeltown three-and-out, McCreary delivered what was arguably his most devastating drive, picking apart the Rebels by picking up 49 yards over five passes. His sixth pass put the game effectively out of reach, as he hit Butler for an 11-yard touchdown to leave the Rebels in a 28-6 hole with under one minute left in the first half.
Reeltown came out of the locker room and delivered the answer it desperately needed. Bryant led a seven-play, 71-yard drive in which the Rebels leaned heavily on its own passing game, and Brown ended the possession with a four-yard score to cut Montgomery Catholic’s lead to 28-13 with 9:07 to go in the third quarter.
Unfortunately for the Rebels, the Knights came right back with a score of their own.
Carter found a crease and took off for a long kick return to the Reeltown 29-yard line, setting Montgomery Catholic up well for another scoring drive. Five plays later, Cobb was in the end zone again, this time on a one-yard run that left Reeltown trailing by 22 nearly midway through the third.
Bryant added seven more points on a beautifully-lofted touchdown pass to Logan Lee in the game’s final minutes, but it was not enough to help the Rebels overcome the damage already done.
Reeltown will try and get back on track Friday when it travels to Goshen for region play. Montgomery Catholic, meanwhile, will host Beulah.
Montgomery Catholic 35, Reeltown 20
MCA — 7 21 7 0 — 35
REL — 6 0 7 7 — 20
REL — Johnny Brown 2-yd run (2-pt no good), 4:01
MCA — DJ Carter 39-yd reception from Caleb McCreary (XP good), 2:55
It was what Catholic coach Aubrey Blackwell wanted.
Catholic notched its first Class 3A region win of the season and improved to 2-1 overall after an authoritative 30-0 win over Dadeville. Blackwell was pleased with his Knights performance. “We had an excellent defensive effort. We played a physical game. We did a great job running the ball and we controlled the clock, and our special teams played well,” Blackwell explained. “I couldn’t ask for anymore.”
The defense was the key for the Knights. Dadeville did not enter Catholic territory in the first half. The Tigers finally crossed the midfield stripe in the third quarter but wound up punting from their own 48 yard line by the time the series was complete. The only other time Dadeville crossed midfield was the last play of the game which netted 36 of the Tigers 105 yard total. “Our defense played well. We are a very coachable unit and our coaches had us prepared,” Knights linebacker Pat Ryan said.
The Knights special teams adjusted the scoreboard midway in the first quarter when Myles Butler dashed 48 yards for a touchdown on Dadeville’s first punt of the night. It turned out to be all the Knights needed. “All I had to do was following my blocking. I just made sure they were in front of me. They did a great job and I was able to make it to the end zone,” Butler said of the effort.
Catholic’s defense made their first big play on Dadeville’s next possession. T. J. Dudley intercepted a Dadeville pass that set up an eight yard touchdown run by Jeremiah Cobb to give the Knights a 14-0 lead.
Before intermission, the Knights marched 44 yards for another score. This time the touchdown came in the air. Freshman quarterback Caleb McCreary lobbed a pass in the corner of the end zone and senior D.J. Carter battled a Dadeville defender for the ball. Carter prevailed in the tug of war and the Knights led 20-0.
Catholic wasted little time in the second half and padded its lead with a four play, 79 yard drive. Once again, the big play involved Butler. McCreary threw deep and Butler made the catch after getting behind the secondary. Butler got to the two yard line and a couple of plays later Dudley carried the pigskin into the end zone and the Knights were out of harm’s way leading 27-0. “I tried to make it to the end zone but I just couldn’t quite get there. The pass was right on the money. It was a great pass,” Butler said about the toss from his freshman quarterback. “He (McCreary) is doing a great job. He played great tonight and did a good job with our offense. It’s just his third varsity game.”
Blackwell noticed the freshman signal caller improving greatly. “He looked real comfortable tonight running the offense. He did a superb job. He is still learning and I think he will continue to improve rapidly,” the Knights coach said.
Catholic continued to be stingy on defense and Dadeville could not make offensive progress. The Knights moved the ball well before the third quarter concluded but a holding penalty helped to stall the drive. Judd Osten wrapped up the Knights point scoring with a 37 yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Cobb had an excellent night running the ball and collected 142 yards on 13 carries for the Knights. Butler gained 33 yards on just a pair of attempts. Johnathan Rhoden carried seven times for 24 yards.
McCreary completed six of 12 passes for 145 yards.
Catholic will travel to Reeltown for another region game next week and Dadeville (1-1) will play Pike County in Brundidge.
TROY – Catholic rolled up 463 total yards, scored four touchdowns and had two more called back by penalties in defeating Class 5A Charles Henderson 27-13 at Troy University’s Veteran’s Memorial Stadium on Friday night.
The game was moved from Catholic to the more spacious Veterans Memorial Stadium in Troy to accommodate COVID regulations with social distancing and reduced capacity in stadiums, but was delayed for approximately 90 minutes because of heavy rain and lightning.
Jeremiah Cobb rushed for 159 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 25 carries and Caleb McCreary completed 10 of 18 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown, along with three interceptions, in the win.
Kylon Griffin had the other touchdown, returning the Trojans’ first kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. He had another return for a touchdown that was wiped out with a block-in-the-back penalty.
Another touchdown, on a 65-yard run by Johnathan Rhoden, was also wiped out by penalty.
Myles Butler had five receptions for 157 yards and a touchdown in the win.
Will Belsterling led the defensive effort for the Knights with two interceptions. Fellow defensive back Jourden Thomas had another to seal the win.
Catholic (1-1) returns home to play Dadeville in the region opener next Friday.
Marcus Dees understands the role he plays as a Catholic senior and three-year starter.
His teammates look up to him, evident by the fact he was voted a team captain as a junior in 2019 and by the Leadership Award he received after playing baseball this past season.
Dees sets the bar high and insists his teammates do the same.
“Every game, I have some kind of set goal – at least five tackles a game, two sacks, try to force a turnover because on defense that’s our main thing – turnover, turnover, turnover,” he said. “Then I talk to my teammates and try to get them to have the same mindset that I have.”
If they all have the same mindset as Marcus Dees, there’s no telling how many games Catholic will win this season. The Knights will be retooling on offense, but the defense will be one of the strongest in the area, led by a guy who has been leading by example almost from the day he stepped on the field for the first time in 2018.
Last season, Dees was first among defensive linemen with 87 tackles and 19 tackles for loss and led the Knights with eight sacks. In 2018, as a sophomore, he had 67 tackles (fourth on the team), 13 tackles for loss, eight sacks, four fumbles caused and two fumble recoveries.
“The respect that he holds from his teammates is pretty incredible, more than any I’ve seen,” Catholic coach Aubrey Blackwell said. “To be voted team captain in multiple sports as a junior is incredible, really unheard of. It’s the first time we’ve had it at Catholic. It says a lot about the kind of person Marcus is and the kind of leadership that he draws both in the weight room and on the field.”
The weight room is where it all starts for teams as they prepare for the upcoming season and Dees has established a standard for others, breaking the school’s bench press record (405 pounds) and nearing some records in other categories he may set at season’s end.
A successful season, he maintains, is achieved by “understanding what goes on in the weight room and then transferring it to the field. When you get to that time in the playoffs, that’s where you see that push and see who’s really putting in that work. Understanding that what you do will always transfer to the field.”
He interrupted his work in the weight room briefly to play baseball, where Blackwell has served as the head coach for the past two seasons and talked Dees into participating. He responded by batting .340 and receiving the Knights’ Leadership Award for his play at first base.
“I started playing baseball like in T-ball, so I’ve always like this love for it,” he said. “It was something to do after football season, something to go to.”
There’s nothing like football, however. Dees committed to play for Wofford College in mid-July, a Football Championship Subdivision team that plays in the Southern Conference. First, however, he’d like to help the Knights improve on last year’s 12-1 season that ended in the 4A quarterfinals with a loss at UMS-Wright.
“We have to be focused all the way through,” he said. “I started to notice that sometimes when it’s getting close to the end of the season, some players are ready to go. We have to keep the mentality that we are the best and we have to keep winning and we have to strive to get a ring.”
A lot of familiar names are missing from last year’s Catholic team that took a 12-0 record into the 4A quarterfinals against UMS-Wright Prep.
While there are defensive linemen, linebackers and safeties to replace on a defense in almost any given year, the loss of four offensive linemen, quarterback Christian Ivey and tailback Darrell Gibson leaves a void that almost feels like 2020 will be a rebuilding season for the Knights.
Just don’t say that to the Knights, who feel they didn’t reach their full potential last season.
“We have to be focused all the way through,” senior defensive lineman Marcus Dees said. “I started to notice that sometimes when it’s getting close to the end of the season, some players are ready to go. We have to keep the mentality that we are the best and we have to keep winning and we have to strive to get a ring.”
Catholic coach Aubrey Blackwell believes in his players but is a little guarded in his optimism.
“I’m relying heavily on a group of guys that are returning for us on the defensive side of the ball,” he said. “We do have a group offensively, because we had so many little injuries, that got spot starts and have some experience but haven’t carried the load yet.
“But I’m really proud of how our senior leadership has played out this year. The biggest thing with this football team is staying healthy through the pandemic, which is everybody’s biggest question mark. But I’m proud of the work ethic, regardless of what the future may or may not hold for us.”
On defense, the Knights are a formidable group. Dees and nose guard Mahric Robinson return as starters and Macon East transfer Jaren Augustus rounds out the group. A pair of returning juniors, TJ Dudley and Patrick Ryan, anchor a talented group that includes JC Hardigree, Ethan Binns and Zach Underwood at either will or bandit.
“Linebacker is probably our deepest position on the field,” Blackwell said.
In the secondary, starters Spencer Bach, Jourden Thomas and Kylon Griffin return and Austin Cleghorn and Will Belsterling are battling for the starting job at the vacant cornerback position.
While there are only six returning defensive starters, several players on that side of the ball have game experience, stepping in because of injuries or whenever the game was well in hand.
“We have 13 players that have taken varsity snaps on both sides of the ball or that have started in at least one game, so that helps when you have some experience,” Blackwell said.
Offensively, some questions linger that only game experience will answer. The line doesn’t have the standout leader that Catholic has produced in the last five years, only a group of steady contributors that include Will Driver, Trent Taylor, Riley Swain and Eli Starrett along with returning starter Kolbe Russo at left guard.
In the backfield, the Knights will replace the dependable Gibson with an unproven sophomore, Jeremiah Cobb.
“Jeremiah Cobb saw a lot of time last year in the UMS game because of an injury to our starter and really showed a lot of potential in the things he was able to do,” Blackwell said. “We also have a junior, Johnathan Rhoden, who started at corner last year that will be splitting time at running back.”
At quarterback, the battle for a starting position continues between freshman Caleb McCreary, a transfer from St. James, and senior Dean Johnson, who played H-back a year ago.
“We’ve got two guys battling for the quarterback spot,” Blackwell said. “We’re rebuilding an offensive line but we have older guys around them. We’ve leaned heavily on our two returning senior wide receivers, Myles Butler and DJ Carter, and those guys have done a really good job of leading. But just like we’ve done every year at Montgomery Catholic, we want to put our kids in the best situation to win. We really loved what we did offensively last year and it fit our guys.
“I think (this year) it’s going to depend on which quarterback is in the game and how we’re going to continue to develop the offense. Whoever doesn’t win the quarterback job will definitely have a position on the field somewhere else. Both of them are good athletes.”
Aubrey Blackwell knew there would be more signees when Catholic’s Chase Little signed to play football at Troy on ‘early signing day’ this past December. On Wednesday the head football and baseball coach at Montgomery Catholic sent another four student-athletes to the collegiate level. “It’s an exciting day. It’s a great day because it is a day of opportunity for our young people,” Blackwell said. “It’s a happy day for me – seeing them go to the next level and move towards greater success.”
On Wednesday Christian Ivey, Darrell Gibson, C.J. Owens and Michael Russo inked the papers to play college ball. Even though he was the team’s quarterback, Ivey signed to play baseball while the other three will remain on the gridiron. Since coming to Catholic in 2016 Blackwell has signed away 22 players.
All of the signees had something to say about Catholic’s success over the last few years, but all of them brought up the winning culture and coaches that want to win. “It’s not just about winning on the field, it’s about everything,” Blackwell said when told of the complimentary words of his players. “Our winning program is a by-product of what we believe in. I want to build men from boys and make them disciplined and accountable with faith being at the top of everything.”
Christian Ivey signed to play baseball at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville. Ivey, an outfielder, batted .478 last year and delivered a hefty .815 slugging percentage for the Knights. Wallace State is considered by many to be the top junior college program in Alabama. According to Blackwell, “Coach Randy Putnam and Wallace really wanted Christian to come there and play.” Ivey has been playing baseball all of his life and playing for Catholic since the seventh grade. “Wallace made an offer and I went up there to visit. I really liked the school. I talked football to a couple of schools but I’m not that big and it may not be a good idea, so I’m going to stick with baseball and I look forward to it,” Ivey said.
Darrell Gibson was the typical workhorse as a running back. He carried the ball 557 times his junior and senior years. His efforts resulted in over 3,600 yards gained and 45 touchdowns. “He grew into a leader and was voted one of the team captains. He is very goal oriented. We believe conditioning is critical and one thing Darrell did that was important was to show leadership in the weight room,” Blackwell said of his 5’7” fullback. Savannah State in Savannah, Georgia, is a NCAA Division II school. Gibson said he loved the town and “The coaches communicated with me well and I think it will be a good place for me. I want to play running back but I will probably look at something outside of the backfield like a slot. The main thing for me is to continue to elevate my work ethic and keep my mind in the right direction.” Gibson said.
C.J. Owens was a three year starter for the Knights. While he played on both sides of the ball he made his mark as a defensive tackle and nose guard. Owens made 67 solo tackles and 14 sacks. “We are extremely proud that C.J. has decided to accept the challenges that Annapolis will offer. He is sitting on top of a great opportunity,” Blackwell said. Owens made it clear that Montgomery Catholic was his home. “I would never want to play high school ball anywhere else. Catholic prepared me in a lot of ways but having to work hard to prepare was the most important thing I learned,” Owens said.
Michael Russo was an effective kicker and punter for Catholic. He averaged 42 yards per punt, a very lofty figure for high school punters and 71% of his kickoffs landed in the end zone. “This young man has overcome injuries and adversity. He always had the guts to keep working. He is a tough young man of tremendous character and we are fortunate to have him at Catholic,” Blackwell said when introducing Russo, who will head to Ave Maria College in south Florida about 40 miles from Naples. It is a private school and a Division II member of the NAIA. “I was looking at big schools but what I really wanted was to call a school home, and a place where I would be better off after four years. I think I made a good decision and I am happy about it,” Russo said. Looking ahead the kicker added “Preparation is my key to success and I need to continue practice and preparation. You got to keep working.”
Although he already signed, Chase Little joined his Catholic teammates on Wednesday. The 6-foot-6, 300-pound Little is “absolutely the biggest kid that I’ve ever coached,” Catholic coach Aubrey Blackwell told the Independent in December. “The biggest thing about him is his heart. Chase has a tremendous passion for the game of football, he has a tremendous passion for being great at what he does and how he does it.” Little chose the Trojans over offers from Jacksonville State, Tulane, Purdue, Indiana, Western Carolina, Akron, Liberty, Louisiana-Lafayette, Central Michigan, Eastern Kentucky, Samford, Coastal Carolina and Tennessee State.
CHASE LITTLE CHOSEN AS MONTGOMERY QUARTERBACK CLUB PRIVATE SCHOOL PLAYER OF THE YEAR!
CONGRATULATIONS TO CHASE LITTLE FOR SIGNING WITH TROY UNIVERSITY!
CHASE LITTLE SELECTED TO PLAY IN ALABAMA - MISSISSIPPI ALL STAR GAME!
KNIGHTS WIN ROUND 2 OVER HANDLEY!!
Catholic 9 Handley 6
Zach Pappanastos booted a 41-yard field goal and Myles Butler hauled in a 28-yard touchdown pass from Christian Ivey as the Knights survived a defensive battle with Handley in the second round of the 4A state playoffs on Friday night.
Catholic (12-0) will travel to Mobile next Friday to face UMS-Wright in the quarterfinals of the 4A state playoffs.
“Twelve wins is the most in Catholic football history and I can’t be more proud of this group for what they’ve accomplished this season,” Catholic coach Aubrey Blackwell said. “I’m not ready for this season to be over. We have done some great things but we’re not satisfied with this. We set out to compete for a state championship and the next round will go through Mobile.”
After a scoreless first half, Pappanastos put the Knights on the board with 6:21 remaining in the third quarter with his field goal. Handley countered with a touchdown pass from Evan Cofield to Dylan Brooks with 2:54 remaining in the quarter but the extra point failed, leaving the score at 6-3.
Catholic answered in quick fashion with Ivey’s pass to Butler providing the game-winning points with 19 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The extra-point attempt failed.
“I’m so proud of how hard our guys fought in some terrible conditions and handled some great adversity to find a way to win tonight,” Blackwell said. “Our defense was awesome.”
Linebacker T.J. Dudley led the way with nine tackles while senior defensive back Nate Downes had seven tackles and a fumble recovery. Jourdan Thomas had a pair of interceptions as well.
Friday night Williamson ran 13 plays in Catholic territory in the first 16 minutes of play in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs. The Lions offense never saw Catholic territory after that. On the other hand Catholic had nothing but bad field position early. Then the Knights flipped the field and snapped the ball 36 times in Williamson territory the last 32 minutes of the game, which led to a 24-6 Catholic victory. “It was the field position. After the first quarter we stayed on their end of the field and our defense was simply incredible,” Knights coach Aubrey Blackwell said.
Williamson began the game very strong and initially things looked bleak for the Knights. While Catholic’s offense sputtered early in the game the Lions offense was in high gear. Williamson threatened early but a fumble recovered by Nate Downes stopped the drive. The Lions offense came roaring back and scored late in the first quarter on a short run by Quinton Shaw.
Catholic’s defense began to stiffen in the second quarter. A bad snap on a punt led to the Knights first possession in Williamson territory for the first time. On the next play Darrell Gibson fought his way for 21 yards and Catholic took a 7-6 lead at 8:31. At that moment the game changed for good especially with the Knights defense coming to life. “We really didn’t change anything, well, we changed our mindset. We were hungry for the win. I think their early success moving the ball woke us up,” Knights linebacker Pat Ryan said. “We have a lot of leaders on this team and this is a special senior class. We feel good about our team. We just put our foot down.”
The Knights offense was soon back in business at the enemy’s 27 yard line. Gibson carried the ball five consecutive times and found the end zone on the last effort. The 14-7 score stood until intermission.
“We saw what they were doing and made some changes. We overcame adversity and started pounding the line,” Gibson explained. “We can do that because our offensive line is getting better all of the time. They do a great job.”
The big change in the Catholic attack was vacating the spread offense. Quarterback Christian Ivey went under center and the Knights utilized a Power I effectively. “We changed to that formation, which is what we needed to do and we knew what we would be facing,” Blackwell said. “We needed to work on heavy offense because they had too much speed. We watched their films and knew we had to pound them instead of going outside. They are just too fast.”
Blackwell’s strategy worked very well on both sides of the ball. Williamson lacked the depth and was forced to play many players both ways. “They got tired. We helped them get that way. We took the heavy offense and started running hurry up and kept the pressure on them. It also slowed them down when they had the ball,” Blackwell explained.
After a 12 play Catholic drive ended with a Williamson interception in the end zone, Downes did his defensive magic once again. The reliable defensive back intercepted a Lions pass and returned it 36 yards giving the Knights another opportunity in red zone. A drive never materialized but Zack Pappanastos easily drilled a 19 yard field goal at 3:18 in the third quarter broadening the Knights lead to 17-6.
Another Williamson miscue allowed the Knights back into the red zone. Gibson scored his 18th rushing TD of the season with only 12 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The 24-6 Catholic lead was more than enough especially with the stingy Knights defense.
Gibson ended the game with 33 carries and 138 yards. T.J. Dudley led the defense with a dozen tackles.
Before the 2019 season Blackwell noted that the 2018 season was the first real tough regular season schedule for the Knights in a while. This year was no exception. The tough scheduling by Blackwell is intentional, and it has paid off. “I want a tough schedule. It gives our kids confidence that they can play with any team. The speed of the game and physical part will become tougher as we go,” the Knights coach said. “Preparation is important, and when you’ve been there before you can do it again.”
Catholic is now 11-0 and will host Handley (7-4) for round two Friday night. “I have no idea about Handley. We need to watch a lot of film. We just got to work hard and prepare. That’s the name of the game,” Blackwell said.
CONGRATULATIONS TO SENIOR DARRELL GIBSON FOR BEING NAMED AHSAA RIVER REGION PLAYER OF THE WEEK!
KNIGHTS FINISH REGULAR SEASON 10-0!!! WITH 30-0 WIN OVER HEADLAND
It’s not the first time Catholic has gone 10-0 in the regular season, but it is the first the Knights have been 10-0 and gone to the playoffs.
Catholic rounded out its regular season schedule with an impressive 30-0 win over region foe Headland Friday night to extend the Knights unblemished record. According to Catholic AD Daniel Veres, the 1979 Knights were 10-0 but failed to go to the playoffs because they did not play enough region/area foes to qualify.
After a week off, Catholic will be at home in the first round of the playoffs on November 1 and will host a team from the Mobile area. “You cannot go undefeated in the regular season without help from all your people. I’m talking about parents, cheerleaders, students, teachers, administrators and the community. You must have all of this to be successful,” Catholic head football coach Aubrey Blackwell said. “I’m proud of what we have done and it is a blessing for me to be the coach at Catholic.”
Catholic did everything an undefeated team is supposed to do Friday night. The Knights had a balanced offense and scored in all four quarters. Their defense pitched a shutout and even scored some points. The kicking game was solid and even included a very strategic and well placed quick kick.
The Knights held Headland early and then marched 67 yards in 13 plays topped off by a Darrell Gibson touchdown run of 7 yards. That was the only possession by the Knights in the first quarter.
The second play of the second possession which began in the second quarter resulted in a 65 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Christian Ivey to D. J. Carter. “I thought I could outrun the guy covering me. I just looked over my shoulder and Christian threw it right on the money,” Carter said. Ivey was 6 of 9 for 151 yards on the night which included the TD strike to Carter and an interception. Carter had 4 receptions for 118 yards and carried the ball 4 times for 46 yards. Ivey picked up 44 yards on the ground.
The Knights wasted no time in the second half extending their halftime lead of 14-0. At 9:03 in the third quarter Gibson hit the end zone again after a drive of a half-dozen plays. On the night Gibson ran 18 times for 111 yards and caught a pair of passes for 20 yards.
Catholic began a 10 play scoring drive in the third quarter that culminated early in the final period. Gibson completed the 63 yard drive with a run from the one yard line. “We’ve been working to keep the offense in balance. We run when we need to and throw when we need to,” Carter explained when asked about the balance Knights attack. Blackwell said the Knights pretty much followed the script for the night. "We wanted to have the offense well balanced especially moving into the post season. Tonight we wanted to make a few big plays early and then have a balanced attack and it worked,” Blackwell said. “Other than a couple of big plays early we wanted our offense to grind it out. I’m pleased with where we stand with our offensive unit at his time.”
The Knights next drive stalled in Headland territory and Ivey executed a perfect quick kick which came to rest inside the Headland one yard line. On the next play the opportunistic Knights defense cashed in and recorded a safety when Pat Ryan dumped the Headland ball carrier in the end zone. “Their offense is very physical but our big concern was keeping them from going outside. We wanted to keep them from outside-our plan was to contain them and it worked well,” said Nate Downes, who recovered a Headland fumble early in the game. T.J. Dudley led the Knights on defense with 9 tackles. “We mixed our front around on defense and we kept them from making much progress. They made a couple of drives but we stopped them before giving up too much,” Blackwell remarked. “Our defense did a good job. When they needed to get tough they got tough.”
For Headland Kareen Sailor ran 10 times for 34 yards. Tyler Danzey had 7 carries for 34 yards. The Rams completed 2 passes.
Catholic finished the regular season 10-0 overall and 6-0 in the region. Blackwell, who is in his fifth year as head coach, has compiled a 40-15 record since going to Catholic.
CHRISTIAN IVEY SELECTED MONTGOMERY QB CLUB PLAYER OF THE WEEK!
Christian Ivey from Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School and Tray Duncan from Stanhope Elmore High School were honored as Montgomery Quarterback Club Players of the Week at the Club's October 15 meeting. Shown from left to right: Club board members Perry Hooper, Jr, and Kendall Leverette, Catholic head coach Aubrey Blackwell, Ivey, Duncan, Stanhope Elmore head coach Brian Bradford, and Club board member David Bowen
Catholic 26, T.R. Miller 21
BREWTON -- Catholic rallied from a 14-13 deficit with a pair of second-half touchdowns and turned back the Tigers with a fine defensive effort to improve to 9-0 on Friday night.
Darrell Gibson had 163 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries and Christian Ivey completed 7 of 16 passes for 148 yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead the Knights. Ivey also had 63 rushing yards on 12 carries. DJ Carter had 75 yards and a touchdown on four receptions and Myles Butler had 73 yards and a touchdown on three receptions.
“It was a tough game in a tough environment and we were flagged 150 yards in penalties,” Catholic coach Aubrey Blackwell said. “But our kids overcame early adversity and a difficult situation and refused to lose. They made the big plays when they needed to.”
Orlando Whatley had a 6-yard touchdown run and Carter had a 32-yard scoring reception from Ivey but the Tigers rallied back to take a 14-13 lead. In the second half, Butler’s touchdown catch put the Knights in front 19-14 and Gibson added a 9-yard touchdown run to make it 26-14 before T.R. Miller scored late.
Defensively, TJ Dudley had eight tackles, including one for loss, and CJ Owens had six tackles, including two for loss.
Catholic returns home to host Headland on Senior Night before playing host to a first-round playoff game on Nov. 8.
Catholic 49, B.T. Washington 0
TUSKEGEE – Darrell Gibson rushed for 175 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 18 carries to lead Catholic to an easy rout of Booker T. Washington in a 4A Region 2 game on Friday.
Christian Ivey completed 4 of 9 passes for 74 yards and a touchdown and added 54 yards rushing. DJ Carter had three of Ivey’s completions for 57 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown.
T.J. Dudley added a 5-yard touchdown run.
Defensively, Jourdan Thomas had a pair of interceptions and six tackles, while Marcus Dees had eight tackles, including three for loss.
Catholic (8-0) wrapped up the region championship with the victory and has only a region game at home remaining against Headland in two weeks after traveling to Brewton to play T.R. Miller next week. The region title is the second in three years for the Knights and only their third since winning in 1989.
B.T. Washington (0-7) dropped to 0-4 in region play.
CONGRATS TO 2018 GRADUATE, BRIAN ANDERSON ON MAKING THE ACC TEAM OF THE WEEK FOR HIS PERFORMANCE VERSUS GA TECH!
Brian Anderson, UNC
Anderson was the conference’s highest-graded pass-protector among centers, allowing just two hurries on a whopping 54 pass-blocking snaps. He had a decent run-blocking grade but anytime you have an offense that attempts 54 dropbacks, the passing game outweighs anything else.
Catholic 55, Ashford 28
ASHFORD -- Catholic's offense exploded for 525 total offense on Friday Night, only punting 1 time. Christian Ivey completed 13 of 17 passes for 214 yards and a touchdown and ran for 48 yards and a pair of touchdowns on six carries as Catholic moved a step closer to the 4A Region 2 title with a 55-28 victory at Ashford on Friday night. The night was an offensive back and forth in the first half with Catholic scoring first on a 10 yard TD run by Christian Ivey. Ashford answered 3 plays later on a big TD reception. DJ Carter scored for the Knights on their next possession on a 28 yard TD pass from Ivey. The first half went back and forth ending in a 35-28 score with the Knights in the lead.
The Knights got the ball to start the half and went 3 and out, but the defense held on their possession and the Knights offense would not punt the rest of the night. Touchdowns by Jeremiah Cobb, Ivey, Gibson, and Whatley would follow. Penalties played a huge part of the contest with Ashford receiving 4 penalties for 25 total yards while the Knights concurred 9 penalties for 110 yards negating 126 yards of total offense.
“This was the best offensive effort of the year for us,” Catholic coach Aubrey Blackwell said. “And it came at a good time with Ashford being a tough football team. I think the biggest plus for us came from our defensive coaches. They made adjustments at halftime that made sure we did not give up a single point. It was a good road win for us.”
The Knights (7-0) improved to 4-0 in region play, taking a 1.5-game lead over idle Trinity and a two-game lead over Alabama Christian and Dale County with two region games remaining against winless Booker T. Washington next week and against Headland in three weeks.
Darrell Gibson added 102 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries with a 28 yard run called back on a penalty and Jeremiah Cobb had 104 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. Orlando Whatley added a 9-yard touchdown run and DJ Carter had a 29-yard touchdown reception. Carter had 5 catches total for 80 yards. He had a 45 yard reception called back on a holding penalty.
Myles Butler had four receptions for 87 yards, he had two receptions for 39 yards called back from penalties.
Ashford (2-4, 1-2 in region play) hosts Headland next week.
Catholic 41, Beauregard 12
Christian Ivey had 233 yards rushing and passing as the Knights remain unbeaten with an easy win over winless Beauregard on Friday.
Ivey completed 10 of 15 passes for 158 yards and rushed for 75 yards and a pair of touchdowns on eight carries to help the Knights improve to 6-0, their best start since 1994. Jeremiah Cobb had 136 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries and Orlando Whatley added 84 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 14 carries in the rout. DJ Carter added 70 receiving yards and a touchdown on just three catches.
Defensively, linebacker Jack Burt had nine tackles and an interception.
The 5A Hornets dropped to 0-6 with the loss, their worst start since 1989.
The Knights return to region action next week with a game at Ashford.
Catholic uses early turnovers to subdue Trinity
By Tim Gayle
T.J. Dudley and his Catholic teammates couldn’t have hoped for any better start to Friday’s 4A Region 2 battle with Trinity at Ragsdale-Boykin Field.
Not only was the sophomore linebacker in the right place at the right time to recover a fumble on the game’s first possession, he was rewarded with a second fumble on Trinity’s next offensive play, resulting in two quick touchdowns for the Knights on the way to a 26-13 win over the Wildcats.
“The first one, he lost the ball and I picked it up, but I almost fumbled it again so I just had to secure the ball,” Dudley said. “The second one, it popped right into my hands but they were already there and I couldn’t break loose.
“(The early turnovers) made my team bring the intensity. Everyone was hyped. We woke up and just came to play ball.”
Trinity’s Coleman Ellis juggled the exchange from quarterback John David Bonner on the third play of the game and Dudley was there to scoop the ball at the 43 and return it six yards to set up quarterback Christian Ivey’s 37-yard keeper on the next play for a 7-0 lead.
On the next play from scrimmage, Bonner tried the middle of the Catholic defense, lost the ball and Dudley was there again, leading to a quick four-play drive capped by Darrell Gibson’s 6-yard run and a 14-0 lead less than four minutes into the contest.
“Any time you get a momentum swing on the road, it’s a big deal,” Catholic coach Aubrey Blackwell said. “It was awesome to get that momentum early in the game and it helped us carry it through.”
Three plays and a Trinity punt later, Catholic was on the move again, taking over at midfield and getting a 25-yard run from Gibson on the second play of the drive. From that moment on, the Trinity defense took over, allowing Catholic just 2.2 yards per play the remainder of the game (101 yards in 46 plays), but the damage was already done. Michael Russo kicked a 43-yard field goal three plays after Gibson’s run for a 17-0 lead, too big a deficit for the Wildcats to overcome.
“That’s part of the game,” Trinity coach Barry Loyal said of the turnovers, “but it’s part of the game that you can’t do. As we made the progression to this point, that was one of the things we talked about. We can’t give up big plays and you can’t turn the ball over. And we did both of those in the first three minutes of the game. It’s just a learning process and a consistency process that we’re working toward.”
Despite the early deficit, Loyal said he stuck with the game plan and tried to attack Catholic with a balanced attack.
“I tried to be patient because our defense is going to play good,” he said. “As hard as it was, to just start throwing it on every down, I knew we had to try and run the ball. Seventeen is a big deficit but we’ve been there before. We were there with them two years ago, as a matter of fact (before rallying to win). Tonight, we were just one or two plays short.”
Catholic tried to move the ball on the ground and through the air, but had no success. After the field goal, the Knights’ final 12 possessions never ventured into Trinity territory except twice, once coming on an interception and the other after a kickoff following a safety.
“They’re a good football team and they’ve played every team they play really good on defense,” Blackwell said. “That’s a really, really good defensive football team and we knew it was going to be a battle. We took every shot we had on the play list, we put every wrinkle on the script we had on the field and they played really well. They did a great job. Luckily for us, our defense played better.”
Ivey was 7 of 16 for 36 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while adding 37 rushing yards on five carries. Gibson finished with 89 yards on 22 carries.
Kylon Griffin, who had seven tackles to share the team lead with Dudley, stepped in front of a Bonner pass for William Roberson late in the first half and returned the interception 20 yards to the Trinity 32. Ivey completed the transition with a 19-yard lob in the left corner of the end zone for Myles Butler with 55.5 seconds left to give the Knights a 24-10 halftime lead.
Trinity had threatened to pull back into the game with a 13-yard Jake Hufham reception from Jack Collett – subbing for the injured Bonner – and a march to a first-and-goal at the Catholic 10 late in the half before settling for a 27-yard field goal from Luke Adams. The Wildcats started the third quarter in much the same fashion, holding the Knights on three plays, then marching to the Catholic 3-yard line midway through the quarter.
A bad snap past Bonner resulted in a 23-yard loss and Adams was forced to kick another field goal, this one from 43 yards, to trim the deficit to 24-13.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt (that could have been a turning point in the game), but that’s part of doing some things (correctly),” Loyal said. “You get inside the 20-yard line, you’re not going to trick people, not good teams like them, so we’ve got to keep plugging away and figure out that red-zone offense.”
Catholic managed to kill enough of the clock to hold off the Wildcats, getting one more opportunity after a snap sailed out of the end zone on a Trinity punt, resulting in a safety. The Knights took over after the ensuing kickoff at the Trinity 47, but managed just one first down before turning the ball over on downs at the Wildcats’ 37.
“They were in position and we didn’t get them out of position very much,” Blackwell said. “We made the plays we needed to make when we needed to make them and we were able to hold the ball and get the clock rolling in the second half.”
Bonner completed 15 of 32 passes for 193 yards and was the Wildcats’ leading rusher with 47 yards on 16 carries. Hufham finished with 57 yards on four receptions. James Handey had five receptions for 42 yards. Mays McMillan and James Davis each had 12 tackles to lead the Trinity defense.
Catholic (5-0) improved to 3-0 in 4A Region 2 play heading into next week’s non-region game at home against 5A Beauregard and took a huge step toward wrapping up a playoff berth at home with region games remaining against 1-3 Ashford, winless B.T. Washington and Headland.
We’re cruising for the region,” Dudley said. “We own the city and we shouldn’t lose to anyone in the city.”
The 5-0 start by the Knights is the best since 1994. The win at Ragsdale-Boykin Field was only the third in Catholic history and the first since a 10-0 victory in 1984.
Trinity (2-3) dropped to 2-1 heading into next week’s non-region game at Montgomery Academy.
Gibson and Ivey highlighted as Top Performers in the area
Top AHSAA football performances: Find out who was best in Week 4
1. Austin Gavin, RB, St. James — Ran for 240 yards, which ranks 10th in school history, on 32 carries with two touchdowns in a 26-7 win at Montgomery Academy on Friday. Scored on runs of 64 and 16 yards. The Trojans (4-0) had 384 yards rushing.
2. Tucker Kilcrease, QB, Brantley — Was responsible for five touchdowns in Brantley's 55-14 win over Florala. Had nine carries for 117 yards and three touchdowns and was 4-of-9 passing for 154 yards and two touchdowns. Also had three tackles.
3. Darrell Gibson, RB, Catholic — Had 15 carries for 185 yards and three touchdowns in the Knights' 52-13 win over Alabama Christian.
4. Christian Ivey, RB, Catholic — Had 12 carries for 146 yards and three touchdowns in the Knights' 52-13 win over Alabama Christian.
Christian Ivey passed for 126 yards and rushed for 146 more as the Knights rolled to an easy region win over Alabama Christian Academy on Friday night.
Ivey completed 5 of 10 passes for 126 yards, while rushing for 146 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 12 carries. Darrell Gibson added 185 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries.
“I’m really proud of how fast we started tonight,” Catholic coach Aubrey Blackwell said. “Our guys were focused and played together. Our offense had some big plays early and the score on our first drive was huge for our momentum.”
DJ Carter added a 38-yard touchdown run and Jeremiah Cobb had a 20-yard touchdown run, part of a 507-yard performance by the Catholic offense. Defensively, Nate Downes had an interception for the Knights.
“Our senior leadership has really been good for us so far,” Blackwell said. “They’re goal oriented and have kept our guys focused and determined.”
Alabama Christian (1-3) travels to Midland City to play Dale County next week, while Catholic (4-0) plays host to Trinity in an region game.
WE ARE LIVE ONLINE THIS WEEK VERSUS ACA! CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO WATCH THE GAME LIVE ON THE MONTGOMERY SPORTS NETWORK YOUTUBE CHANNEL.
A pair of turnovers had marred Dale County’s first two possessions, but nothing could prepare the Warriors for what happened next.
The turnovers had led to a pair of Catholic touchdowns and the Knights finished off the shell-shocked visitors with a perfectly executed onside kick, turning into a touchdown five plays later on the way to a 48-0 rout on Friday night.
“We just saw their front guy on the kickoff bailing as soon as the kick,” Catholic coach Aubrey Blackwell said. “It’s just something we saw on tape. We knew we try it on our second kickoff.”
The Knights scored on their next three possessions as well, jumping out to a 42-0 halftime lead as Darrell Gibson’s 22-yard touchdown run put the exclamation mark on the first half. Gibson finished with 129 yards on just eight carries, slicing up the Warrior defense in the process.
“We knew what we had to do,” Gibson said. “We know what we’ve got, we know how many weapons we’ve got, so we used them to the best of our ability and we got the job done. I underestimate no team, I just know what Catholic is going to do when we get on the field.”
The explosion made up for the struggle the week before as the Knights were fortunate to beat Anniston 14-13.
“We won the game 14-13, but we should’ve beaten the team by 40,” Gibson said. “We came back with the mentality on Monday that our offense has to put up more points and we’ve got to get the job done. So we were locked in and we executed and we did our thing.”
Dale County (1-2) held the Knights to a three-play possession to open the game and started driving toward the Catholic goal. On the 10th play, quarterback Ethan Teal bobbled the exchange with his running back and Catholic T.J. Dudley grabbed the ball and sprinted 15 yards before he was tackled.
Three plays later, quarterback Christian Ivey found DJ Carter behind everyone for a 50-yard touchdown pass. Zack Pappanastos added the first of six extra points for a 7-0 lead.
Three plays later, Teal’s pass over the middle was tipped by Catholic’s Dean Johnson and teammate Jonathan Rhoden intercepted on the Dale County 26. Gibson ran 15 yards and Ivey ran the remaining 11 for a quick two-touchdown lead, setting the stage for Michael Russo’s onside kick.
Russo recovered his own kick and five plays later Ivey scored on a 1-yard plunge with 10 seconds left in the first quarter.
“Coming into it, I didn’t know how we’d play,” Blackwell said. “I knew one thing: We were really upset, as a group, at our performance last week. We had a great week of practice because our guys came out and were really physical and intent. I knew with our focus, we were going to play well, I just didn’t know how Dale County was going to play.
“I was proud of our offense in general, from not playing well last week to doing what they were supposed to do this week – playing fast and we distributed the ball well.”
Ivey, who had accounted for the first three scores, added a 40-yard scoring run and a 56-yard touchdown pass to Myles Butler on the next two possessions, ending his night with 69 yards and three touchdowns on five carries and completing 6 of 7 passes for 120 yards and two more scores.
Carter added a 36-yard touchdown run on the Knights’ first possession of the second half to finish the evening for the starters. Dudley had six tackles in addition to his fumble return, followed by Marcus Dees and Jalen Thomas with five tackles each as Catholic improved to 3-0 overall and 1-0 in region play for only the sixth time ever (along with three similar starts in area play) and only the second time since 2008.
The Knights play host to Alabama Christian on Friday.
BURT SELECTED AS MONTGOMERY QB CLUB PLAYER OF THE WEEK AND PIGG ENTERPRISES SCOREBOARD SHOW PLAYER OF THE WEEK
JACK BURT RECORDS 25 TACKLES, HELPS DEFENSE STIFFLE BULLDOGS OF ANNISTON
The Knights defense allowed 183 yards of total offense on the road and diverted a game tying extra point with 3:00 left to help the Knights secure the road victory over the home town Bulldogs this Friday night.
The Bulldogs struck first in the second quarter to take a 7-0 lead into halftime. In the second half, Christian Ivey threw a pair of touchdown passes to Myles Butler of 37 and Morris Carmichael of 27. The Knights made both of their extra points.
For the evening, Jack Burt led all tacklers with 22 (14 solo, 8 Assist, 3 for loss), Patrick Ryan had 11 tackles, and Marcus Dees finished with 10 tackles. Christian Ivey was 5/11 passing for 116 yards with 2 TD passes. Myles Butler was 3/86 receiving with 1 TD.
The Knights are back home next week to open region play versus Dale County at 7:00 pm.
Ivey, Knights swing momentum in win over Tallassee
By Tim Gayle
Catholic quarterback Christian Ivey runs option with tailback Darrell Gibson trailing on play.
By Tim Gayle
Catholic linebacker T.J. Dudley records early sack of Tallassee quarterback Tyler Ellis in Friday's game.
Catholic’s Myles Butler hauled in a touchdown pass to end the first half and the Knights rolled to a touchdown to open the second half to spark a surprisingly easy 28-7 win over Tallassee on Friday night at Catholic.
The back-to-back touchdowns broke open a tight game and the Catholic defense did the rest, holding the Tigers to just 68 total yards over the first three quarters to turn what was supposed to be a fierce defensive battle into a lopsided win.
“That’s a big win for us,” Catholic senior Christian Ivey said. “That’s a 5A public school and we’re a private school. You start off the season different when you get a big win like that versus getting beat like last year, so it’s going to kick us off pretty good.”
It was Ivey’s pass to Butler that broke a 7-7 tie and appeared to break the will of the Tigers. Taking over at the Catholic 49 with 59.7 seconds left, Ivey completed passes to Orlando Whatley and Butler to move the Knights into field goal range, then to Morris Carmichael with 8.4 seconds left to put the ball on the Tallassee 4-yard line.
“We liked the matchup we had out there so we told Christian you’ve got about three seconds to get rid of it and if we don’t get it, we’re going to settle for a field goal,” Catholic coach Aubrey Blackwell said. “Make it happen. This is like do or die. We have to get this ball in the end zone. It was huge for momentum. That was a big key in giving us confidence going in at halftime.”
Ivey lofted a ball to the left side of the goal line and Butler hauled in the reception over cornerback Dalton Lanier with 3.4 seconds left. Zack Pappanastos added the second of three extra points for a 14-7 halftime lead.
“They had the ball for basically the whole first quarter, so us getting that at the end … just changed the whole game,” Ivey said. “The momentum flipped and stayed flipped the entire game. After that, it just started rolling. It was like our offense got confidence.”
The first quarter was a back-and-forth battle before Marciano Smith’s 1-yard run gave the Tigers a 7-0 lead with 9:47 left in the half. Up until that point, Tallassee had maintained the ball for 11 minutes, 34 seconds of the first 14:13, picking up seven points, six first downs and 46 yards.
The remainder of the game, Tallassee managed no points, three first downs and 52 total yards, with most of that coming in the fourth quarter after the outcome had been decided.
Catholic, held without a first down over the first 14 minutes, responded to Tallassee’s touchdown with a 15-play, 61-yard drive that converted a third-and-long situation, got Tallassee to jump offside on fourth down and answered the loss of tailback Darrell Gibson – who was forced to go to the sideline after his helmet came off – with a 4-yard touchdown run by T.J. Dudley, a linebacker forced into the offensive rotation by Gibson’s one play on the sideline.
The Knights opened the third quarter with another impressive drive, marching 93 yards in 12 plays.
“There were a couple of (halftime) adjustments we made based upon what they were giving us,” Blackwell said. “And we mixed up a couple of things, ran a couple of plays we had not run in the first half and were saving for the second half and it paid off for us.”
Gibson, who rushed for 93 yards on 20 carries, spun away from the Tallassee defense on a crucial third-and-three carry for 29 yards to the Tallassee 47. Ivey kept on the option for 12 yards, then four plays later ran the final 15 yards to effectively finish off the Tigers.
“(Catholic coaches) had just picked up on some things, some of their weaknesses,” Ivey said. “They came in there (at halftime) and got on the white board for about 10 minutes, then we came out and gave it to them.”
Ivey added another 19-yard run minutes later to set up Whatley’s 29-yard touchdown run and a 28-7 lead on the next play. Ivey finished with 49 yards rushing on five carries along with 71 yards passing.
Dudley finished with 14 tackles, while Pat Ryan had four sacks, including one of Tallassee quarterback Tyler Ellis that resulted in a fumble and an eight-yard fumble return by Ryan.
Last year, Catholic trailed by a touchdown early in the fourth quarter before faltering late in a 28-7 loss that fueled the Knights’ off-season conditioning workouts. This year, the Knights’ off-season work appears to have paid off with a better conditioned team manhandling the Tigers but Blackwell guards against reading too much into one game.
“Tallassee’s a great team, a great program,” Blackwell said. “Mike Battles does such a good job. This is just a small step in a long process. I don’t want this team to get ahead of itself. We’re going to take this one week at a time.”
Next week, the Knights head to Anniston, while the Tigers travel to Handley.
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CJ Person is a finalist for the 4A Super All State/ Lineman of the Year!
The ASWA’s back and linemen of the year winners for each classification — plus Mr. Football and the Super All-State team — will be named at a luncheon Jan. 15 at the downtown Renaissance. CJ Person, a 4A lineman finalist, could be Catholic’s first major award-winning football player. 2017 Catholic Graduate, Brian Anderson also was a finalist his senior year and 2015 Catholic Graduate TJ Stokes was a finalist for 4A Mr. Football, neither winning the award.
Early Signing Day 2018
For 5 out of the past 6 years, Catholic Football has a player signing a NCAA D1 NLI. CJ Person inks his letter of intent with Indiana University. He follows other D1 NLI's - Tyler Price 18'(University of North Alabama), Parker Dennis 18'(Austin Peay); Brian Anderson 17' (U of North Carolina); TJ Stokes 15' (Miss Valley State); Reggie Jackson 15' (Miss Valley State); Tray and Taylor McCurdy 15' (Alabama A&M); James Sherman 14' (Texas State University). Current Knight Derrick Parker has received offers to play Division 1 and D2; Drew Smith and Cole Faucheux have received offers to play NCAA D3. Our February signing day will bring more Knights continuing to the next level!
CONGRATS TO CJ PERSON ON A GREAT SHOWING IN THE ALABAMA-MISSISSIPPI GAME!
CJ PERSON SELECTED CO-CCC PLAYER OF THE YEAR; 9 OTHER KNIGHTS SELECTED TO THE ALL-CCC TEAM
Tony Amerson had an incredible record-setting year on offense for St. James.
CJ Person had an incredible record-setting year on defense for Catholic.
As the five coaches in the Capital City Conference pondered a selection for player of the year, the biggest decision facing them was how to separate the pair, which separately led their respective teams to the second round of the state playoffs but did not face each other this season.
Person, arguably the best defensive player in the city at any classification, had a school-record 11.5 sacks and a school-record 36 tackles for loss this past season for the Knights. His 100 tackles are the most in school history for a defensive lineman.
Amerson, arguably the best offensive player in the city at any classification, rushed for 5,092 yards in his career, the most ever in city history. He had 2,222 yards this season for the Trojans, another school record, and set records for longest kickoff return (96 yards vs. Beulah), most rushing touchdowns in a game (5 vs. Bullock County), and all-purpose yards in a season (2,480). His 27 touchdowns are one shy of the school record he set last year.
“He’s had several good years back to back, so he’d be tough to vote against,” Alabama Christian coach Nate Sanford reasoned. “My vote wouldn’t be a vote against either of them.”
So when the voting was complete, the coaches had chosen an all-Capital City Conference team and ultimately chose St. James coach Jimmy Perry as the coach of the year, but could not decide between Person and Amerson, selecting both as co-players of the year.
Amerson was one of five Trojans selected to the all-conference team, along with tight end Mike Shalayda and offensive lineman Jake Prickett, linebacker Alex Whisenhunt and defensive back Colin Duncan.
“No one has ever rushed for as many yards as he has, at any level, in the city of Montgomery or the surrounding area,” Perry said. “He set all those records but it was never about him, it was about us doing what we needed to do to win. He came to practice with a ‘game’ mindset every day. He never took a day off at practice. I think that’s what made him the player he was.”
Person was one of eight Knights selected to the team, along with offensive linemen Cred Thomas and Thomas McLaughlin, tailback Darrell Gibson, fellow defensive lineman Cole Faucheux, linebacker Drew Smith, defensive back Derrick Parker and punter Michael Russo.
“He is the total package,” Catholic coach Aubrey Blackwell said. “He’s put in 30 hours of community service, he’s got a 3.7 grade-point average, a 25 on his ACT and he’s done it all without a mother or father, just his grandmother. I cannot not vote for him because I know where he’s come from. And with the lack of resources he has had and to still do what he’s done is incredible. He was voted the team captain unanimously. Every single kid on my team voted for him to be the captain. I’ve never seen that happen. That maturity level he has is really incredible. There are a lot of times when he would get more attention when he spoke than even my coaches because the kids have so much respect for him.”
Person and Amerson both were first-team selections a year ago, along with Alabama Christian quarterback Reece Solar, Montgomery Academy receiver and defensive back Nate Meacham and Duncan.
Catholic’s eight first-team selections led the team that was selected by the coaches. Alabama Christian was second with six players selected, followed by St. James, Montgomery Academy and Trinity, all with five.
Of the 29 players selected, 21 were seniors, seven were juniors and one – ACA receiver Jalen Clark – was a sophomore.
ALL-CCC Football Team
WR – Nate Meacham, 5-11, 155, Sr., Montgomery Academy
WR – Jalen Clark, 6-1, 175, So., Alabama Christian
WR – Will Robertson, 6-1, 175, Jr., Montgomery Academy
WR – Jack Singletary, 5-9, 140, Sr., Trinity
TE – Mike Shalayda, 5-11, 161, Jr., St. James
OL – Jake Prickett, 5-7, 238, Sr., St. James
OL – Jackson Duke, 6-1, 205, Sr., Alabama Christian
OL – Bracken Osmer, 6-0, 225, Sr., Trinity
OL – Cred Thomas, 6-0, 220, Sr., Catholic
OL – Thomas McLaughlin, 6-1, 210, Sr., Catholic
TB – Tony Amerson, 5-10, 215, Sr., St. James
TB – Darrell Gibson, 5-9, 171, Jr., Catholic
QB – Trey Lindsey, 6-1, 175, Sr., Montgomery Academy
Athlete- Reece Solar, 6-2, 210, Sr., Alabama Christian
PK – Bradley Westhauser, 5-10, 170, Sr., Montgomery Academy
DL – Jeff Flowers, 6-0, 225, Sr. Alabama Christian
DL – C.J. Person, 6-2, 285, Sr., Catholic
DL – Cole Faucheux, 6-0, 290, Sr., Catholic
DL – Watkins Johnson, 5-11, 195, Jr., Trinity
LB – Alex Whisenhunt, 5-10, 163, Jr., St. James
LB – Brian Wilson, 6-0, 195, Sr., Montgomery Academy
LB – Dawson Locklier, 6-0, 195, Sr., Alabama Christian
LB – Drew Smith, 5-8, 182, Sr., Catholic
DB – Alex Harmon, 5-9, 150, Sr., Alabama Christian
DB – Colin Duncan, 5-11, 170, Sr., St. James
DB – Thomas Ladner, 5-8, 155, Jr., Trinity
DB – Derrick Parker, 6-0, 170, Sr., Catholic
Athlete – Thomas Hargrove, 5-10, 195, Sr., Trinity
P – Michael Russo, 5-11, 160, Jr., Catholic
Co-Player of the Year: CJ Person, Catholic
Co-Player of the Year: Tony Amerson, St. James
Coach of the Year: Jimmy Perry, St. James
Honorable mention: Tyler Britton, LB, Sr., Trinity; DJ Carter, WR, So., Catholic; Will Chandler, OL, So., Trinity; Cam Holmes, DL, Jr., Montgomery Academy; Josh Hynniman, DB, Jr., Trinity; Thomas Kirkham, OL, So., Montgomery Academy; Britton Kohn, DB, So., Montgomery Academy; Mac Main, DB, Jr., Montgomery Academy; Miller McCarthy, LB, So., Alabama Christian; Matt Prater, OL, Jr., St. James; Will Whiddon, DL, Sr., St. James; Bradley Woodham, DL, So., St, James; Brock Woodham, DB, Jr., St. James; Will Wright, OL, So., Alabama Christian.
Catholic’s offense took a while to get going but the defense did the job all night long as the Knights rolled to a 41-13 victory over Holtville in the first round of the 4A playoffs, marking the first time in school history the Knights have won first-round playoff games in consecutive years.
Catholic (8-3) will travel to Tuscaloosa next week to play American Christian Academy in the second round of the playoffs.
Christian Ivey threw for a pair of touchdowns and ran for another. In the first quarter Ivey connected with a wide-open D.J. Carter for a 65-yard score and later tossed a 35-yard touchdown pass to Darrell Gibson. Ivey scored on a quarterback sneak in the second half. Ivey was 4 of 8 for 116 yards.
Gibson scored on runs of 20 and 3 yards and had one touchdown run of 51 yards negated by a penalty. The Catholic workhorse carried the ball 29 times for 143 yards.
The defense for the Knights caused five turnovers -- a trio of interceptions and two fumbles.
Derrick Parker intercepted a halfback pass on the last play of the first half and returned it 28 yards to the Bulldogs’ end zone. Razz Chandler and Nathan Downes also pick off Holtville passes.
Marcus Dees recovered a Holtville fumble that led to a touchdown. Morris Carmichael recovered a Knights kickoff as the Holtville deep men thought the ball would make it into the end zone, but instead nestled in the mud at the one-yard line. Carmichael’s recovery led to Ivey’s quarterback sneak for a touchdown.
Catholic fumbled twice deep in its own territory to set up both of Holtville’s touchdowns. The Bulldogs (7-4) scored in the first half on a 5-yard Braxton Buck to Dajon Reeves pass. The second touchdown for Holtville came in the third quarter on a one-yard dive by Drake Baker. Outside of those two occasions Catholic yielded very little to its opponent.
“There’s no doubt about it, our defense really came through for us. They shut them down and forced turnovers and that is what we ask them to do every week,” Knights head coach Aubrey Blackwell said.
Catholic-Holtville matchup highlights first round of AHSAA playoffs
The first round of the Alabama High School Athletic Association state playoffs opens this weekend for 15 teams in the River Region. One of the more intriguing matchup is the only one involving two local teams as Holtville (7-3) travels to Montgomery to play Catholic (7-3) on Friday night.
Holtville is returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2010, which is the last time the Bulldogs won more than two games in a season.
“Coach (Jason) Franklin has done a great job there,” Catholic coach Aubrey Blackwell said. “They’re one of the most improved programs (in the state) in the last couple of years. He’s done a great job with those kids. They’re playing with confidence.
“They do a really good job of spreading it out, throwing on time and the quarterback (Braxton Buck) does a good job with his accuracy and protects the football. They have a couple of receivers that do a good job of going and getting it.”
Buck is coming off a five-touchdown performance in a 70-6 win over archrival and winless Marbury. While the Knights prepared for the playoffs by beefing up their schedule with T.R. Miller, Anniston, Tallassee and Beauregard as non-region opponents, Blackwell’s team has yet to face a team that will throw the ball like Holtville.
“We haven’t played a true four-wide (offense), a team that’s going to throw it 30 times,” Blackwell said. “We haven’t seen that. They’re good at what they do. I do like our matchups in the secondary, but they do a good job of finding the weaknesses so it’s going to be important for us to make plays and get some pressure on the quarterback.”
Catholic will counter with a running attack led by Darrell Gibson and an oversized defensive front that includes the 290-pound Cole Faucheux and the 285-pound CJ Person.
“We’ve really challenged our defensive line to make pressure and get pressure when we need it,” Blackwell said. “Make him uncomfortable.”
While the Bulldogs are coming off an impressive win, the Knights are trying to rebound from a disappointing loss after losing the region championship at Headland two weeks ago.
“We’ve got everybody healthy,” Blackwell said. “We had a couple of starters out versus Headland and we’ve got them back. We had a great off week last week, got people healed up and got back to the fundamentals. Our guys are mentally ready. We fell short of the region championship but their eyes are still on Auburn.”
Reaching the Super Seven, however, will be difficult in a playoff bracket that includes American Christian and perennial favorite UMS-Wright.
“It would’ve been an easier path if we would have won the region championship,” Blackwell admitted. “Either way, to earn this state championship you’re got to go through UMS-Wright and through American Christian. We haven’t really thought about it or talked about it. We have to worry about Holtville.”
PERSON VOTED WSFA'S WEEK 9 FEVER PLAYER OF THE WEEK!
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KNIGHTS SENIOR, CJ PERSON, PRESENTED HIS ALABAMA JERSEY FOR THE ALABAMA MISSISSIPPI GAME!
Knights defeat TR Miller 27-3
Catholic 27, T.R. Miller 3
Christian Ivey completed 7 of 12 passes for 203 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 17 yards and another touchdown as Catholic handed T.R. Miller its third consecutive loss in surprisingly easy fashion on Friday night.
Darrell Gibson rushed for 129 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 18 carries to lead Catholic (7-2) to its third consecutive win. The Knights travel to Headland next week for the 4A Region 2 championship.
Myles Butler had two catches for 97 yards and DJ Carter had two catches for 53 yards and a touchdown to lead the Knights. Drew Smith led the defensive effort with nine tackles, including four for loss.
T.R. Miller presents 'unique' challenge to Catholic
If you want to be the best, you’ve got to play the best.
It may be a tired cliché, but Catholic coach Aubrey Blackwell certainly believes it as he prepares his Knights for their final non-region game on Friday at home against T.R. Miller.
T.R. Miller first gained statewide prominence under former coach Jamie Riggs in the 1990s, establishing itself as the winningest program in the state in that decade. Over the past 25 years, T.R. Miller is one of only three programs in the state (Maplesville and Hoover) that has won more than 250 games. The Tigers also rank second in high school history in playoff appearances with 37 (trailing only Sweet Water, who has 38) and are third in playoff victories with 87, trailing Hoover (96) and Colbert County (88).
“Their pedigree is great,” Blackwell said. “We want to be there. We want people to look at us and say the same thing about our program. We need to continue to play programs like we’ve played that have a high pedigree and that are used to winning.”
The Tigers are the fourth non-region game for Catholic this year and Blackwell made an attempt to upgrade the Class 4A Knights’ non-region schedule, particularly with 5A opponents Tallassee and Beauregard. Both of those games were on the road and the two represent the only defeats suffered by Catholic this season.
“They’re extremely well coached and I knew that would be a challenge for our guys,” Blackwell said of T.R. Miller. “We want to play games that put us on the map and that’s what we’ve done with Tallassee and Beauregard and want to continue to do it with T.R. Miller.”
Blackwell said he scheduled the game during a coaching change at the Brewton school by contacting former interim head coach Marc Edge, who is now a coordinator under Riggs at Houston Academy.
“Marc was the interim head coach before Keith (Etheredge) was hired, so I scheduled the game with Marc,” Blackwell said. “Marc was a former General and coached me at Robert E. Lee. That was our off week in the region and being that late was pretty odd. We had matching off weeks in region play.”
Etheredge is in his first season at T.R. Miller after coaching for two years at Pell City. He first gained attention as the head coach at his alma mater, leading Leeds to a 107-34 record in 10 years, including state championships in 2008, 2010 and 2014.
Blackwell said T.R. Miller, just as Tallassee and Beauregard did, provide some unique challenges to the Knights that make him grateful for upgrading the schedule as the playoffs approach.
“We’ve learned more out of those two games than we have any other this year,” Blackwell said, “because it put us in some tough predicaments and made us put some guys in different positions and got us in a playoff mindset against two quality programs. I think it accomplished most everything we wanted to accomplish in scheduling those games. We wanted to win those two and we definitely had chances to win both of them, but we were able to learn a lot.
“T.R. Miller is going to be the first defense that we’ve played that play the coverages that they play and the front that they play. Offensively, they’re an old-school, power I team that is going to run it right at you, unique to what we’ve played. So they present some things that we haven’t seen on Friday nights in our region. And we’ll get some of the same thing the next week from Headland – a lot of pro I, hard ‘downhill’ stuff – so it’ll help us the next week against Headland, which will be for our region championship.”
KNIGHTS WIN HOMECOMING MATCH 41-0 OVER BTW-TUSKEGEE; DEFENSE POSTS 3RD SHUTOUT OF THE SEASON
Montgomery Catholic jumped out to a 34-0 halftime lead to secure a home playoff spot in Round 1 of the 2018 AHSAA 4A Football Playoffs on November 9th at 7:00 pm at Knight Stadium. Christian Ivey completed touchdown passes to Derrick Parker, DJ Carter, and Myles Butler, finishing 10/14 156 yards passing. Darrell Gibson carried the ball 15 times for 112 yards rushing and 2 TDS. The Knights Defense only surrender 117 yards of total offense, with only 34 yards of that in the 1st half. The Knights improve to 5-0 in region play with the region championship coming up in two weeks at Headland High School. The Knights will have a home non-region bout against #9 Ranked 3A opponent TR Miller next week.
Catholic remains undefeated in region with win over Ashford
Catholic's Darrell Gibson rushed for more than 100 yards and surpassed 1,000 yards for the season.
It’s great when a plan comes together, and it did for Catholic Friday as the Knights demolished region foe Ashford 30-0. In the game, Catholic running back Darrell Gibson had another 100 yard plus game and surpassed the 1,000 yard mark for the season. But Gibson’s effort came in the second half after the Knights passing game loosened the Ashford defense. “That was the plan. We figured they would key on Darrell and they did. So we took to the air and spread them out. In the second half we gave it to Darrell and he made sure we expanded our lead,” Catholic coach Aubrey Blackwell said.
“We are basically a run offense. When we passed a good bit in the first half it put them where we wanted them,” Knights quarterback Christian Ivey said. Ivey was 12 of 20 for 144 yards.
Catholic drove down the field on its first possession and settled for a 28 yard Michael Russo field goal to go ahead 3-0. Ashford’s defense remained tough but eventually surrendered a touchdown when Ivey connected with D.J. Carter for a 33 yard touchdown pass with only 32 seconds remaining in the first half. Catholic held a 10-0 lead at halftime.
The Catholic running game flourished quickly in the second half after Ashford was expecting the passing attack to continue. Gibson got back to normal and carried the ball on seven consecutive plays to put Catholic up 16-0 late in the third quarter. The 71 yard drive was earned solely on the ground by Gibson.
Until the fourth quarter neither team had turned the ball over, but on the first two plays of the final period the teams exchanged mistakes. Ivey was intercepted on the first play of the fourth quarter and then Ashford fumbled on the next play with C.J. Person grabbing the loose ball. Catholic was certainly the beneficiary of the swap since the Knights inherited good field position on the Yellow Jackets 20 yard line. Once again it was all Gibson. Three straight runs and Gibson collected another 20 yards and a touchdown to put the Knights ahead 23-0.
Ivey scrambled and threw to Myles Butler for a 14 yard touchdown in the corner of the end zone to conclude scoring for the game. Ashford fumbled again on its next possession which was recovered by Nathan Downes.
“I was proud of the guys for the comeback tonight after that tough loss last week. I like our position in the region right now sitting at 4-0. We still got a lot of football to play and we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but we’re happy with our progress,” Blackwell said.
Catholic is now 5-2 overall and will host Booker T. Washington of Tuskegee for homecoming next week.
Catholic's CJ Person chosen for Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic
CJ Person becomes the 3rd Knight selected to the Alabama Mississippi All Star Game in the last 5 years! Former Knights, Brian Anderson (University of North Carolina - MCPS Class of 2017) and James Sherman (Texas State University - MCPS Class of 2014), both played in the prestigous game.
It was a gutsy call by the Trinity Wildcats, but Catholic had the answer.
Trinity opened the game with an onside kick in Friday’s region matchup at Catholic, but the Knights responded by holding the Wildcats to three yards in three plays, forcing a punt to keep the momentum from leading to a repeat of last year’s upset by the Wildcats.
“That was huge,” Catholic coach Aubrey Blackwell said. “That was the drive of the game, really. When we got in the (pre-game) huddle on the sideline, we told our kids, expect it, they’re probably going to try it. But what a statement by our defense right off the bat. Just an overall great effort.”
Catholic scored a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter and two more in the second half to put away Trinity 28-0, handing the Wildcats their biggest loss in the series and their first shutout loss to a city team since losing to Montgomery Academy in 2015.
It also avenged Catholic’s only regular-season loss last year, a 32-22 upset at Ragsdale-Boykin Field.
“It was definitely a different mentality this week,” Catholic senior C.J. Person said. “At the same time, it’s another game on the schedule and we try not to dwell on the past, even though it did amp us up a lot. Of course, we wanted to come back out here and prove that last year was just a fluke. We did that.”
The Wildcats (1-4) played two quarterbacks after losing Rob Chandler and his backup, John David Bonner, to injuries earlier this season. Jack Collett started the game and was spelled at times throughout the game by senior wideout Nexton Marshall. Collett was 4 of 7 for 9 yards with a pair of interceptions and was sacked three times for a loss of 14 yards. Marshall did not attempt a pass, but carried the ball five times for 11 yards.
“We practiced for two different quarterbacks, for 6 (Collett) and 15 (Marshall),” Blackwell said. “Our defensive staff does a great job of preparing those guys and they did a great job tonight of just being relentless to the ball.”
Trinity had the ball for just 34 plays, managing just 27 total yards. Switching quarterbacks didn’t help, Person explained.
“We’re taught to play our keys,” Person said, “and a certain type of player isn’t a key. If I’m taught to read the shoulder, I don’t care whose shoulder I’m reading.”
A standout performance by Trinity on defense kept the game close, although the Wildcats never threatened offensively, managing just one first down in the second half. Darrell Gibson had 96 yards on 24 carries for Catholic, scoring on a trio of 3-yard runs before D.J. Carter added an 18-yard scoring reception from Christian Ivey in the fourth quarter.
What started as a brilliant call by Trinity coach Barry Loyal to open the game mattered little for an offense whose longest plays were runs of 12 and 11 yards on first-half possessions.
“It’s just something we saw on film,” Loyal said. “You’re trying to find things to gain an advantage. We’re trying to do everything we can do and look for every little thing we can try to put our guys in the best situation.”
The Catholic defense, however, was up to the challenge.
“That was big because it was literally the first play of the game,” Person said. “We just came out and did what we had to do.”
Catholic (4-1) improved to 3-0 in region play and will travel to Beauregard next week. Trinity will play host to Montgomery Academy next week, but Loyal was encouraged by his team’s inspired play on defense despite the crippling injuries.
“We definitely talked about that, improving from last week to this week and representing the name on the front of our shirts,” Loyal said. “And we did that. I’m proud of them. We just have to keep plugging away. Our seniors are great. I know they’re hurting, but I also know they’re going to keep plugging away.”
Montgomery QB Club honors CJ Person as Player of the Week
Updated ; Posted
The Montgomery Quarterback Club has announced its Players of the Week for games of September 14. C. J. Person from Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School is the Private School Player of the Week and Bryce Kelly from Pike Road Schools is the Public School Player of the Week. Both players will be honored at the Club's next meeting on Tuesday, September 25. Dari Nowkhah, lead anchor for the SEC Network, will be the featured speaker
C.J. Person, a senior defensive tackle, had 8 tackles, seven for a loss, and 4 sacks in Catholic's 28-8 win over Alabama Christian Academy. He is committed to play next season for Indiana University.
Montgomery Catholic, coached by Aubrey Blackwell, is 3-1 on the season and hosts Trinity Presbyterian School this week.
Bryce Kelly, a junior wide receiver, had five catches for 153 yards and 2 touchdowns in Pike Road's 34-6 win over Southside Selma. On defense, he had 4 tackles, an interception, and caused a fumble.
Pike Road, coached by Patrick Browning, is 4-0 on the season and plays Bullock County this week at Alabama State University.
The Montgomery Quarterback Club meets at the Capital City Club in downtown Montgomery. The social hour begins at 5:15 followed by dinner at 6:15 and the program at 6:45. Guests are welcome at Quarterback Club meetings but must make an advance reservation by calling Rebecca Williams at 356-1004 and pay $40 at the door. For information on becoming a member of the Montgomery Quarterback Club, visit the Club's website atwww.mgmqbackclub.org
CONGRATS TO SENIOR DEFENSIVE BACK DERRICK PARKER ON PICKING UP HIS FIRST COLLEGE FOOTBALL OFFER TO FAULKNER UNIVERSITY!
Catholic followed its plan and won its region game at ACA 28-8 on Friday night.
“It was our plan to use Darrell (Gibson) quite a bit. He got the job done,” Catholic head coach Aubrey Blackwell said. Gibson, a junior, accumulated 180 yards on 26 carries. As a team, the Knights rushed for 194 yards.
Quarterback Christian Ivey was 8 for 12 in the passing department for 74 yards.
The Catholic defense kept ACA quarterback Reece Solar contained. Solar was 12 for 22 for 90 yards. He was not allowed to scramble and was often hurried on his passing attempts.
Catholic took the lead 7-0 when Ivey connected with Derrick Parker from 22 yards out. ACA countered quickly when Solar delivered a perfect strike to Alex Harmon for a 13-yard touchdown. Garrett Cottingham powered his way into the end zone for a two-point conversion to give the Eagles an 8-7 lead.
After that the night belonged to the Knights. Razz Chandler got into the end zone from 8 yards away to give Catholic a 14-8 lead at intermission.
After a scoreless third quarter Catholic began to wear down ACA. With about 9 minutes remaining Gibson darted down the sideline from 40 yards to put the Knights up 21-8. ACA lost the ball on its next possession by not recovering a backward pass (fumble). Catholic’s Jack Burt covered the loose pigskin to stop the ACA drive. Almost 5 minutes later Gibson forced his way into the end zone to give the Knights a 28-8 lead with only 1:10 left in the game.
“Our conditioning program in the off season has served us well. I think we got stronger as the game went on. It was a big win for us and we played well,” Blackwell said.
Catholic is now 3-1 and will host Trinity next week. ACA stands at 1-3 and will travel to Dale County next week.
MIDLAND CITY – Darrell Gibson rushed for 219 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries and added another score on a 25-yard reception as Catholic cruised past Dale County 48-16 in the region opener for both teams on Friday night.
Catholic (2-1) had tuned up for region play with Tallassee and Anniston, while Dale County (2-1) had outscored Ariton and G.W. Long 97-19 before facing the defending region champions on Friday.
Catholic quarterback Christian Ivey passed for 81 yards and a touchdown and added 75 yards in the victory.
Defensively, the Knights forced five turnovers, including an interception by Patrick Ryan and a 38-yard interception return for a touchdown by Derrick Parker. CJ Person had 11 tackles, including four for loss, to lead the defensive effort. The senior also forced a fumble and recovered another fumble for a touchdown.
Catholic travels across town next Friday for a region matchup with Alabama Christian, while Dale County remains home to play Ashford in a region game.
KNIGHTS WIN IN WEEK 2 IN THE MUD BOWL 16-9 OVER ANNISTON!!!
Catholic earned its first win of 2018 by outlasting Anniston 16-9 at home. Darrell Gibson led the attack for the Knights with 132 yards on 34 carries. Quarterback Christian Ivey scored on an 11 yard run. Morris Carmichael found the end zone with a 9 yard reception from Ivey.
The Catholic defense forced four turnovers, two of which were interceptions by Nate Downes and Raz Chandler. Jalen Fountain forced a fumble recovered by Marcus Dees. The defense also forced a safety and allowed only 3 points. C.J. Person led the defense with 8 tackles.
Catholic is now 1-1 for the season and will begin region play next week with a trip to Dale County.
HERE'S YOUR 2018 MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER CATHOLIC KNIGHTS PREVIEW!!
THE KNIGHTS FOOTBALL TEAM GAVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY THIS WEEK BY SERVING AS VOLUNTEERS AT THE MONTGOMERY AREA FOOD BANK. THE KNIGHTS SORTED PRODUCE, BOXES, PACKED FOOD ITEMS, AND CLEANED. OUR PROGRAM IS ABOUT MORE THAN JUST A GAME!
CONGRATS TO 2019 CJ PERSON FOR HIS COMMITMENT TO INDIANA UNIVERSITY!!!!
2018 SENIOR, WILLIAM HOOPER HAS BEEN SELECTED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE NORTH SOUTH ALL STAR GAME!!!!