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AHSFHS Article Series

   The best of the best in Alabama High   
  School Football over the past 100 seasons.

2023 Super Seven Championships 

                   The 2023 Super Seven Championship Games
                                   6A Saraland vs. Clay-Chalkville

          Prior results, especially those that are nearly a decade old, aren't an indicator used to predicting present day outcomes. As fans of high school football, when we talk about classic contests there's simply no way to halt the "what if" and "if only" debates that inevitably arise. The 2023 AHSAA (Alabama High School Athletic Association) Super 7 feature three games with schools that have previously played each other.  In this case our spotlight is on Class 6A.   Here's hoping that the finale on Friday evening is as good as the 2014 Class 6A championship between then No. 3 Saraland (13-1) and No. 1 Clay-Chalkville (14-0) .

          Saraland began its football program as a Class 4A competitor in 2010 with John Holman at the wheel. Prior to kicking off their 2011 campaign the Spartans handed the keys to Jeff Kelly. Kelly managed the emerging program as the Spartans transitioned from 4A into 5A before matriculating to Class 6A in 2014.

           Saraland opened the 2014 postseason with a 37-10 victory over Bessemer City followed by an overtime win over Opelika (27-21) and a quarterfinal victory versus Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa (35-20).  After avenging the Spartans only regular season setback with a 14-10 win over Spanish Fort the inevitable confrontation was at hand.

          On the opposing sideline stood Jerry Hood. After back-to-back losing seasons, 4-6 in 2007 and 5-6 in 2008, Hood put the Cougars back on the winning track. His high-octane offense scored 731 points in 2014 which was, at that time, the 7th best in AHSAA history.  In the postseason Clay-Chalkville smashed Scottsboro 85-50, bested Muscle Shoals then eliminated Decatur (38-10) and Florence (35-21) in successive weeks.

          There it was, coaches Kelly and Hood and their respective squads hurling down the same track, throttles mashed wide open and an inevitable head-on collision on the horizon.

          The Cougars averaging nearly 50 ppg while the Spartans scored at a 36.2 clip. Under center for Clay-Chalkville was junior quarterback Ty Pigrome while Saraland answered with senior signal caller Chris Weaver. Both sides were primed for the clash that took place on December 5th at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn.

          Clay-Chalkville scored first as Patrick Millican booted a 35-yard field goal midway through the first quarter. Saraland responded with a 3-yard scamper by Weaver giving the Spartans a 7-3 first quarter advantage. Then it was Pigrome's turn in the spotlight as he rushed for two 2nd quarter touchdowns giving the Cougars a 16-7 lead at the break.  

          Saraland began the 3rd quarter by recovering an onside kick. One play later, Weaver and Velus Jones hooked up for a touchdown and again on the ensuing conversion attempt to close the gap to a single point, 16-15.

          A 24-yard field goal by Justin Harper put the Spartans back in front 18-16.  A Sean Young 25-yard rushing touchdown padded the Saraland advantage, 24-16.  

 sports writer Ben Thomas aptly chronicled what happened next: "No. 1 Clay-Chalkville needed someone to step up. Enter Ty Pigrome."

          The junior quarterback threw two touchdown passes in the second half and ran for the game-winner.  The first touchdown toss went to sophomore Nico Collins while junior wideout T.J. Simmons moved the Cougars back in front with his 80-yard grab.  

          Six plays later the Spartans Tyler Sims tied the game with a 23-yard run on fourth-and-one. The successful extra point gave Saraland a 31-30 edge.

          Like a ping pong match, back came the Cougars as Pigrome's 48-yard rushing touchdown tacked on the final points of the 6A championship.

          The Spartans final possession was thwarted by Nick McDaniel's seven-yard sack on third down and followed by an incomplete pass.

          Ty Pigrome was honored as the game MVP completing 15-of-20 passes for 255 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed 14 times for 109 yards and three scores.

          Saraland quarterback Chris Weaver completed 16-of-28 passes for 232 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Additionally, Sean Long toted the ball 18 times for 154 yards and a score for the Spartans.

          According to the AHSAA record book Saraland set a 6A record of 522 total yards that is still on the books as well as 147 yards on kickoff returns (6).

          As for 2023, the table has been set with some fantastic matchups. Don't miss out on the Barber Shop Gurus as T.P., Kody and Chris breakdown all of the Super 7 games.

Kurt Duryea

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