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          As the Blount Leopards prepared for the 1998 season, they had to feel good about the talent returning to open the season. The Leopards had eighteen returning starters from the past season. These players were the nucleus of a 12-3 record and a second consecutive Class 5A state championship.
         
          The only piece of the puzzle not returning in 1998 was the head coach. Ben Harris had taken a position with Alabama State as an assistant coach during the off season. Cornelius Brown would take over the duties of head coach after serving as the defensive coordinator at Vigor the previous two seasons. He had worked with Coach Harris at Blount between 1989-1995 as an assistant coach.


  Williamson             6  
  Blount             36  

          Blount opened the season ranked No. 1 in Class 5A as they rightfully should have been. The Leopards defeated rival Williamson 36-6 and prepared to avenge last season's loss to Mississippi defending state champions Moss Point.


  Moss Point             7  
  Blount             13  

         Moss Point put up a good fight but fell to Blount 13-7 in week two. Tyvun Green came off the bench to lead the Blount offense.


  Blount             20  
  Shaw 0   0   0   0   0  

          After an open date, the Leopards shutout Shaw 20-0 to improve their record to 3-0. Next up were the Daphne Trojans.        


  Daphne 0   0   0   0   0  
  Blount 20            27  
        Daphne traveled to Prichard Stadium in week four of the season. Superstar defensive tackle DeMarco McNeil racked up 18 tackles and four quarterback sacks in the Leopards' 27-0 blanking of the Trojans. 

          Daphne entered the game ranked number nine in the Class 6A polls but big plays quickly gave Blount a 20-0 lead in the game. Quarterback Mario Jackson hit Kennard Williams on an 84-yard scoring play during the Leopards' first drive for a quick 7-0 lead. On Blount's next offensive play, Jackson tossed a 47-yard touchdown strike to Erroll Hickenbottom.

          Blount scored again on their next drive and for all practical purposes the game was over with just one minute remaining in the first quarter. 


  B.C. Rain 7   7   0   7   21  
  Blount 0   0   18   7   25  

          The B.C. Rain Red Raiders had high hopes of upsetting the Leopards on their homecoming night at Prichard Stadium. After taking a 14-0 halftime lead, the Raiders looked primed for the upset. Backup quarterback, Tyvun Green came off the bench to toss a touchdown pass and run for two more scores to lead the second half comeback. He completed 9-of-17 passes for 172 yards and the one touchdown.

          Errol Hickenbottom returned the second-half kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown and the Leopards escaped with a hard fought 25-21 victory. Blount was stymied by 17 penalties during the game mostly on offense. The win clinched the Region one championship and a spot in the state playoffs.


  LeFlore          0   15  
  Blount          7   21  

          The Leopards got a scare the next week from LeFlore. The Rattlers led 15-14 late in the game before Blount pulled out the win. On a fourth and 10 from the LeFlore 31-yard line, Tyvun Green found Deandre Green open down the sidelines for the winning touchdown with just 47 seconds remaining in the game.


  Blount             53  
  Baker             6  

          Following another second open date, Blount beat Baker 53-6 to set up a battle with always powerful Vigor at Prichard Stadium.


  Vigor 7   6   0   0   13  
  Blount 0   7   14   0   21  

          The Leopards had been rotating quarterbacks most of the season with Mario Jackson getting most of the playing time. Against Vigor, Coach Brown decided to go with Green as the starter. The move paid dividends as the Leopards avenged lasts year's loss to the Wolves with a 21-13 win.

          The defense held Vigor to just 19 yards rushing on 27 attempts. The Leopards trailed 13-7 at the half but scored 14 unanswered points in the third to take control of the game. Kennard Williams raced 76 yards for a touchdown and Edward Campbell returned a blocked field goal try 70 yards for the last touchdown.


  Wetumpka 0   0   0   7   7  
  Blount 21   14   7   6   49  

          Blount opened the playoffs at home against Wetumpka. Leopards head coach Cornelius Brown was in the hospital with pneumonia, leaving offensive coordinator Karl Powe and defensive coordinator Wayne Merritt to share interim head coaching duties at Prichard Stadium.

          Wetumpka proved to be no more than a bump in the road to a state championship as they fell 49-7. The defense shut down Wetumpka all night, not allowing them to cross midfield until the fourth quarter. Antonio Hill returned a kickoff 71 yards for one score and Antoine Lott returned a fumble 25 yards for another touchdown.


  Blount             36  
  Eufaula             12  

          Coach Brown was still at home resting for the game but it mattered little as the Leopards romped Eufaula 36-12 in round two of the playoffs. In a game marred by penalties, the Leopards struggled but found a way to win. Both teams were penalized 24 times for 230 yards with four players being ejected during the contest.


  Sylacauga          8   11  
  Blount 0   0   14   0   14  

          Next up were the 12-0 Sylacauga Aggies in the third round of the playoffs. Neither team was able to get on the scoreboard in the first half of play but as they had done all season, the Leopards came back for a big win. Tyvun Green connected with Deandre Green for both second half scores. Tailback Kennard Williams sparked the offense with 192 yards rushing on 18 carries.

          The defense twice snuffed out Sylacauga drives deep in Blount territory to preserve the win. The Aggies scored with 2:25 remaining in the game to cut the lead to 14-11 but Deandre Green recovered the ensuing onside kickoff to secure the victory.


  Stanhope Elmore             7  
  Blount             33  

          The Leopards defeated Stanhope Elmore 33-7 in the semi-finals to advance to their fifth straight Class 5A state championship game in Birmingham.



  Etowah 0   0   7   13   20  
  Blount 0   0   21   6   27  

          After a scoreless first half, Blount scored 21 third quarter points to take a 21-7 lead as the teams entered the final stanza. Coach Brown returned to the sidelines after missing the previous three games to guide the team.

          Tyvun Green hit Kennard Williams with a 10 yard touchdown pass on the first play of overtime to give the Blount Leopards a 27-20 victory in a rematch of last years finals. With the win Blount captured their fifth title in the 1990s and their third consecutive state championship.

          Deandre Green caught 10 passes for 217 yards to be named the game's MVP. But, the most important pass he caught all evening came from Etowah quarterback Anthony Mayo in overtime to assure the Leopards of a state championship.

          Carnell Williams ended the night with 40 yards on 17 carries for Etowah. Williams had tied the game with a 21 yard halfback pass to Adam Gilmer on a fake field goal with just 4:45 remaining in the game. The Blue Devils had a chance to take the lead but the extra point was missed wide left.

          The defense came through, as they had all season, with three interceptions of Mayo and recovered a fumble. 

          Blount defensive tackle DeMarco McNeil was named Mr. Football by the ASWA following the 1998 season. It was the first time in the history of the award that the honor was given to an interior lineman. Jeff Davis tight end Gorman Thornton was the only other lineman to ever win the honor as a tight end.

          The Leopards were once again ranked in the final USA Today poll holding down the #11 position. The Leopards averaged 29 points a game and allowed only 10. McNeil ended his three year high school career at Blount with a state record 622 tackles and 44 sacks.

          Defensive back Antoine Hill and linebacker Sean Morris were first-team all-state selections by the ASWA. Green caught 68 passes for 1,128 yards in his senior season for the Leopards. He finished his high school career with 3,212 yards receiving and a record 59 touchdown catches from 1995-98. Kennard Williams rushed for 1,397 yards on 165 carries and scored 14 TDs.

          Tyvun Green completed 144 of 276 passes for 1,841 yards and 30 TDs. The 1998 Blount Leopards had thirteen players sign scholarships to play college football after the season. 



Blount
1998

8/28 36 Williamson . . . . . . . . 6
9/4 13 Moss Point MS . . . . . 7
9/11 OPEN . . . . . . . . . . . . .
9/17 20 Shaw . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
9/24 27 Daphne . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
10/1 25 B.C. Rain . . . . . . . . . 21
10/10 21 LeFlore . . . . . . . . . . . 15
10/16 OPEN . . . . . . . . . . . . .
10/22 53 Baker . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
10/30 21 Vigor . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
11/6 49 Wetumpka * . . . . . . . . 7
11/13 36 Eufaula * . . . . . . . . . 12
11/20 14 Sylacauga * . . . . . . . 11
11/27 33 Stanhope Elmore * . . . 7
12/3 27 Etowah # . . . . . . . . . . 20

375 13-0 125

* Playoff game
# State championship game





Amazing Seasons, a series on the greatest seasons in high school football history


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