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WILDCATS KNOCK OFF #4 CHEROKEE COUNTY 52-46 TO OPEN AREA PLAY FRIDAY NIGHT OUT ON THE PLAINS
With one player out sick, and another playing sick, somebody was going to have to step up big-time in Friday's area opener at home against #4 in class Cherokee County. Coach Randall found that "someone" in team captain senior Gavin Burrage.
Burrage tallied 12 points on a night when every trip up the floor seemed to matter. He also rallied his teammates when they needed it most.
"He was a big part of a US win tonight," Coach Randall told FNN's Jim Jacobs courtside following the victory.
“I felt in the second half the key to the game was Gavin. He’s our captain, he’s our glue. Whatever needed to be done, he took us there. Being the first area game, it just doesn’t get any better than tonight... being able to start 1-0 Jim when we struggled like we did last year,” Randall added.
The game went back and forth. White Plains biggest lead of 8 points evaporated in the 2nd Quarter and Cherokee County only managed to get on top by 5 points once during the 3rd.
White Plains trailed by one at halftime.
"We were lucky to be that close after going 4-for-12 from the line and missing several short shots in the paint," Coach Randall said in his halftime interview.
The score was tied after three quarters and in the fourth, the Wildcats outscored the Warriors 15-9 to seal the win.
Quin Wilson, Jaden Chatman and Brody Baker all contributed at key times during the 2nd half. But for the most part, Coach Randall said Friday's win while big for the team was mostly about Gavin.
“He’s everything that a basketball coach would want in a captain,” Randall said of Burrage. “When you’ve got kids like that who are that invested and know what needs to be done and knows what it means to be us, it’s just special."
The win gives White Plains the early advantage in area play with all three of the other teams in the area now with one loss following Jacksonville's win over Hokes Bluff Friday.
The Wildcats return to action Monday night at home when 2-0 Piedmont comes down Highway 9. You can watch the game live starting with girls action on FNN just before 6 PM.
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FNN ANNOUNCES THE FOUR NOMINEES FOR OUR 2018 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL COACH OF THE YEAR AWARD
This year’s nominees for FNN’s “Coach Of The Year” award are:
PAT PRESTRIDGE – Randolph County Tigers
The Tigers ended their season just one win away from a return trip to the 3A State Championship game, falling just short in the 3A North semi-finals against Piedmont 26-21.
The true story of the Tigers success in 2018 won’t be found in their 12-2 record. It actually started back during the summer when one of the team’s key players transferred to Georgia and then all-state tailback Aaron Knight went down with a season-ending injury. Needless to say, Coach Prestridge and his staff had to slap a band aide on things quick.
After the Week 3 27-22 home loss to Piedmont, the Tigers went on a winning streak that didn’t end until they met the Bulldogs again in the semis. After knocking off then #1 and unbeaten Saks 41-21 on the road, Randolph County rose back to #1 in class, and remained there until the season ended.
“It’s a great honor to be one of the nominees selected among elite coaches,” Coach Prestridge told FNN upon receiving notice of his nomination.
“This comes with the dedication of the coaches and players at Randolph County. Go Tigers!”
CLINT SMITH – Jacksonville Golden Eagles
When Clint Smith went to Jacksonville in 2012, most knew the program would take a step up. After a first year that produced a 5-5 record, the Golden Eagles have steadily climbed into annual region contenders, making the playoffs each of the last six seasons. Coach Smith’s nomination this year comes on the heels of the most successful football season in Jacksonville school history.
The Golden Eagles knocked off 10 regular season wins without a loss. They entered the playoffs as one of the favorites to make the Super 7 out of the north before their 2nd Round 27-12 Playoff defeat on the road at Good Hope.
Jacksonville rose as high as #2 in Class 4A in the state during 2018. Key wins included a Week 1 35-28 win on the road against rival Alexandria and a 16-14 region-winning victory on the road in Week 10 at Hokes Bluff.
Upon being notified of his nomination, Coach Smith said, “I am honored to be nominated for this award. I am blessed to work with some great coaches and players. We appreciate FNN and you guys do for high school football.”
STEVE SMITH – Piedmont Bulldogs
2018 was yet another successful season for the Piedmont Bulldogs under Coach Steve Smith.
The season yielded another region title (their 15th) and another trip to the 3A State Championship.
The year ended at 12-3, losing to Flomaton in the championship game 23-12.
While Piedmont didn’t win the championship this season, this might have been one of Coach Smith’s best coaching jobs since arriving at Piedmont in 2006. The Bulldog “talent” cupboard certainly wasn’t bare, from most people’s perspective, it definitely wasn’t stacked as full as had been the case in previous seasons. Yet, Coach Smith and his assistants took what they had and rallied the team to another Piedmont-like championship effort.
After mid-season back-to-back losses to Jacksonville and Saks, the Bulldogs went on a tear winning eight games in a row to punch their return ticket to the Championship game. Quite an accomplishment for a team that many in the preseason picked to finish 3rd in their region.
With the typical class Steve Smith always operates with, when notified of his first nomination for this award, he replied, “It’s quite an honor to be nominated for the FNN Coach of the Year for 2018. I understand that this recognition would not come my way without the efforts of our staff and players and I am extremely thankful for their commitment to Piedmont Football.”
MATT ZEDAKER – Lincoln Golden Bears
In only his second season at Lincoln, Coach “Z” has turned the Golden Bears back into winners again. And what a turnaround it was!
Lincoln went a dismal 1-9 during Zedaker’s first year at the helm. But he got a break. Following reclassification, Lincoln dropped back to 4A into Region 4, where the competition from top to bottom was pretty equal.
The Golden Bears opened 2018 with an impressive home win over a really good Southside team, then they stumbled on the road at Wellborn before winning three in a row against Talladega, Leeds and rival Munford. Another loss at Holtville put their backs against the wall with Handley coming to Keith Howard Memorial Stadium for an FNN-covered region showdown game. The Bears prevailed 30-14. But they hey wasn’t in the barn just yet. A road win 42-0 shutout at Childersburg set up a “for it all” region title game at home against Elmore County that the Bears dominated, winning 27-0, taking Lincoln from a “worst” of 1-9 in 2017 to “Region Champs” and a return to the playoffs in 2018.
Much like last year’s “FNN 2017 Coach of the Year”, Talladega’s Ted Darby, Coach Zedaker made a team and its’ community believe they were winners again.
When notified of his nomination, Coach Zedaker commented, “It’s really an honor to be nominated for this prestigious award. I am also very humbled to be mentioned with three other great football coaches that had outstanding seasons.”
Fans can vote for which of these four men deserve the honor of being FNN’s 2018 Coach of the Year on our Facebook page. Voting will remain open through Saturday, January 19th, 2019. Fan voting will account for 50% of the overall results with the remaining 50% determined between FNN and an independent panel selected each year to determine the overall winner.
“We consider our Coach Of The Year Award to be our greatest single season recognition we give a coach from our area,” said FNN’s Jim Jacobs.
“We’ve given this award annually since starting the network and it’s something we take a lot of pride in doing.”
The network is currently formulating plans to announce the 2018 Coach Of The Year recipient during a live televised event / dinner sometime between mid-February and early March. Details of that event will be made public as soon as they are available.
Previous FNN High School Football Coach Of The Year recipients include:
2012 - Jeff Smith - Walter Wellborn
2013 - Will Wagnon - Munford
2014 - Lee Ozmint - Glencoe
2015 - Keith Etheredge - Leeds
2016 - Scott Martin - Ohatchee
2017 - Ted Darby - Talladega
Requirements For Nomination:
1 - Can not be a previous recipient
2 - Coach's team must have participated in an FNN Game of the Week telecast over the season.
3 - In FNN's opinion, the Coach / Team either competed at a very high level achieving overall success, or the program made a substantial improvement over immediate prior seasons.
Talladega At Lincoln
American Christian At Anniston
Walter Wellborn At Weaver
Piedmont At Randolph County
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