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Amazing Seasons 


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          The 1991 Gadsden Tigers entered the 1991 season with high expectations. The previous season the team had finished 8-2, losing in the first round of the playoffs. The Tigers were not given a lot of respect from the ASWA voters as they were not among the top ten teams in the Class 5A preseason poll.

          That respect was earned during the season as they ascending in the rankings and made a deep playoff run. The Tigers had lost in the first round of the playoffs the past two seasons after failing to reach the postseason in 1987 and 1988.


  Gadsden 6   6   7   7   26  
  Enterprise 0   0   0   0   0  

          The Gadsden Tigers opened the 1991 season against an always tough 6A team from Enterprise on the road and came away with an impressive 26-0 win. The Tigers scored in each quarter after opening with a 70-yard, 13-play drive capped by a two-yard touchdown run by star running back Jimmy Williams. He scored again in the second period on a 12-yard run to give the Tigers a 12-0 halftime lead.

          Shane Simpson raced 65 yards in the third period and Andy Swafford caught a 48-yard touchdown pass from Chris Elders for the final points of the evening.


  Gadsden 14   14   7   0   35  
  Brookwood 0   0   0   15   15  

          The Tigers were on the road again in week two as they traveled to Brookwood. The tenth ranked Tigers again enjoyed the bus ride home following a 35-15 win over the Panthers. Jimmy Williams rushed for 123 yards on 14 carries and scored three touchdowns. He scored on runs of 13, 1 and 59 yards.
 
          Gadsden moved to a 28-0 lead by halftime and extended it to 35-0 before Brookwood scored two late touchdowns after the outcome was decided.


  Pelham 0   3   7   0   10  
  Gadsden 3   21   14   0   38  

          The seventh ranked Tigers played Pelham at the friendly confines of Murphree Stadium and were rude hosts in a 38-10 win over the Panthers. Williams rushed for 133 yards in a little more than two quarters of work to pace the offense. He also caught a 67-yard touchdown pass from Chris Elders.

          Leading 3-0 in the second quarter, Williams raced 90 yards on a spectacular run to give the Tigers a 10-0 lead. He scored again just minutes later following an interception by Broderick Caselberry on a 21-yard run. Shane Simpson added a score and the Tigers led 24-3 at the half. Elders found Williams on the long scoring pass to open the second half and for all practical purposes, the game was over at that point. Pelham scored late on a blocked punt for their only touchdown.


  Litchfield 0   0   0   7   7  
  Gadsden 0   7   7   0   14  

          Gadsden moved up to No. 5 in the 5A polls as they prepared to play Litchfield in week four. The Tigers jumped out to a 14-0 lead before almost giving the game away on turnovers. They did hold on for a hard fought 14-7 win to preserve a perfect season. Williams ran for 189 yards on 22 carries and scored a touchdown.


  Holt 0   0   0   14   14  
  Gadsden 0   28    7  0   35  

          The Tigers rolled to win number five with a 35-14 victory over Holt. Quarterback Chris Elders completed 9-of-16 passes for 230 yards and tossed two touchdown passes to Shane Watts. Williams was held to just 38 yards rushing and one touchdown in the game.

          Darrell Martin returned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown and Andy Swafford picked up a fumble and returned it 15 yards for another score. Gadsden led 35-0 before Holt got on the scoreboard.


  Etowah 0   0   7   0   7  
  Gadsden 7   7   0   3   17  

          Gadsden and Etowah got together the next week to renew one of the oldest rivalries in the state. Etowah came into the game ranked fourth with the Tigers at No. 3. The Blue Devils had handed the Tigers their only regular season defeat the year before so revenge was on the minds of the Gadsden players and coaches.

          The Tigers won by a score of 17-7 as Williams ran for 224 yards on 24 carries and scored a touchdown. The Tigers rushed for 259 yards and combined for 338 yards of total offense. The Tigers led 14-0 at the half before Etowah closed the gap on a 30-yard blocked punt in the third.

          Etowah threatened in the third but a Freddy Kitchens pass intended for Todrick Malone was intercepted to snuff out the drive at the five-yard line. The win pushed the Tigers close to an Area title and gave them a great win over a very good team from Etowah.


  Walter Wellborn 0   0   7   7   14  
  Gadsden 7   7   7   7   28  

          Jimmy Williams rushed for 217 yards on 19 carries to lead the Tigers past Walter Wellborn 28-14 in week seven. Gadsden held a 14-0 lead at the half on a 29-yard run by Swafford and a 94-yard gallop by Williams. The swift running back scored again in the third on a 25-yard run and Shane Simpson wrapped up the scoring on a five-yard run.


  Gadsden 0   0   6   13   19  
  Fort Payne 3   0   0   0   3  

          Following an open date, the Tigers won the Area 12 title with a 19-3 win over Fort Payne at home. By now the Tigers were ranked No. 2 in the state and showed why against the Wildcats. Fort Payne got on the scoreboard first with a field goal by the defense held them out of the end zone all evening. Gadsden scored off three Wildcat turnovers, the last on a 15-yard fumble return by Will Albright.


  Gadsden 21   14   0   6   41  
  Emma Sansom 0   0   0   6   6  

          The Gadsden Tigers wrapped up their first perfect 9-0 regular season in school history. It was their best year since a 9-0-1 record in 1957. The Tigers defeated Emma Sansom 41-6 in the last regular season game. Star running back, Jimmy Williams did not carry the football in the game as Coach DiLorenzo thought it best to save him for the playoffs.

         His replacement, Ted Mitchell rushed for 188 yards on 11 carries and scored a touchdown. Gadsden jumped out to a 35-0 halftime lead and coasted to their ninth win.


  Walter Wellborn 0   0   0   0   0  
  Gadsden 0   3   13   9   25  

          Over the past two season Gadsden had reached the playoffs only to lose to Walter Wellborn in the first round. That was not to be the case in 1991 as the Tigers rolled to a 25-0 shutout of the Panthers. Williams ran for 114 yards on 20 attempts and Swafford scored two third quarter touchdowns to break open a close game at Murphree Stadium.

          The Tigers' lead was just 3-0 at the half before Swafford score on runs of 8 and 18 yards on reverse plays. Williams got the last score on a five-yard run in the final period.


  Pell City 6   0   0   0   6  
  Gadsden 7   0   7   6   20  

          Gadsden moved to 11-0 on the season with a 20-6 win over Pell City in the second round of the playoffs. The game was played on a soggy field at Murphree Stadium and assisted in creating several turnovers. The Panthers capitalized on a Gadsden fumble to take an early 6-0 lead before the Tigers scored 20 unanswered points. Williams finished the game with 123 yards rushing on 22 carries.


  Gadsden 0   7   0   0   3   10  
  Homewood 0   0   0   7   0   7  

          The No. 1 ranked Homewood Patriots hosted Gadsden in the third round. For four quarters the two team fought to a 7-7 tie before Gadsden pulled out a 10-7 win in overtime. John Giles put the Tigers ahead in overtime and Marcellus Mostella partially blocked a field goal try by Homewood to send the Tigers back to Gadsden victorious. Jimmy Williams was limited due to a sprained ankle suffered earlier in the game but still managed to gain 92 yards on 15 carries.


  Gadsden 7   0   0   0   7  
  Fayette County 0   0   0   6   6  

          In the semi-finals, the Tigers faced off with Fayette County. Gadsden scored on their opening possession on a Chris Elder one-yard run to go up 7-0. Fayette County did not score until quarterback Lance Tucker tossed a scoring pass with just 3:16 remaining. Fayette coach Walden Tucker decided to go for two but Gadsden linebacker Jeff Maudsley stepped in front of the pass attempt for an interception as the Tigers held on to a 7-6 lead.

          Fayette County got the football back with about two minutes left in the game and were moving toward the Gadsden end zone before Maudsley grabbed another interception on a desperation fourth down pass from Tucker. Jimmy Williams, still hampered by the sprained ankle, rushed for 59 yards on 12 carries.


  Gadsden 3   7   7   3   20  
  Blount 0   7   0   0   7  

          Gadsden reached the state championship game for the first time since their 1986 title run. They lined up against the defending Class 5A champions in the 13-1 Blount Leopards at Prichard Stadium. The Tiger's entered the game ranked No. 20 by the USA Today poll and carried a 13-0 record in the matchup.

         The Tigers won a title with a convincing 20-7 victory over the Leopards on the road. Gadsden got on the scoreboard first with an early field goal before Andy Swafford picked up a blocked field goal attempt by Blount and raced 78 yards for a touchdown to give the Tigers a 10-0 lead very early in the second quarter.

          In the third quarter Gadsden running back Jimmy Williams, who rushed for 107 yards on 31 carries, scored on a 12 yard run to make the score 17-7 in favor of the visitors. He was still bothered by the ankle but played through the pain in a very important game for the Tigers.

          The Tigers later added a field goal to seal the victory. It was Gadsden's second state championship as they also claimed the 1986 title. Blount was led by Farley Love at quarterback. He completed 8-of-22 passes for 153 yards but suffered three interceptions. Two of the picks landed in the hands of Swafford.

          The 1991 Gadsden Tigers were a great team that came together on the football field to produce a championship. The defense allowed one rushing touchdown all season long and that came in the title game against Blount. The offense moved the football against every opponent and set a school record by scoring 335 points in a season. The fourteen wins were also a record.

          Named to the first team all-state squad were running back Jimmy Williams, linemen Kendrick Lewis and Marcellus Mostella and tight end Shane Watts. Selected to the honorable mention team were defensive back Percy Davis, lineman Ricky Tillis and linebacker Roderick Thomas. Receiver Andy Swafford was selected to the Birmingham News honorable mention team.



Gadsden
1991

9/6 26 Enterprise . . . . . . . . 0
9/13 35 Brookwood . . . . . . . . . 15
9/19 38 Pelham . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
9/26 14 Litchfield . . . . . . . . 7
10/4 35 Holt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
10/11 17 Etowah . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
10/18 28 Walter Wellborn . . . . 14
10/25 OPEN . . . . . . . . . . . . .
11/1 19 Fort Payne . . . . . . . . 3
11/8 41 Emma Sansom . . . . . . . 6
11/15 25 Walter Wellborn * . . . 0
11/21 20 Pell City * . . . . . . . 6
11/29 10 Homewood * . . . . . . . . 7
12/6 7 Fayette County * . . . 6
12/13 20 Blount # . . . . . . . . . . 7

335 14-0 102

* Playoff game
# State championship game




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


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