Hewitt-Trussville stops losing skid, drops Gardendale
By Erik Harris
With three straight losses pounding at its ego and its back firmly pressed against the wall, Hewitt-Trussville did what any tough competitor would—come out throwing some powerful punches. Unfortunately for Gardendale, those heavy hands landed right on its chin.
The Huskies had their way with the visiting Rockets on Friday night, winning 33-14 in a huge Class 6A, Region 6 contest. The game was huge in the sense that the victory keeps their playoff hopes alive with a single region game remaining. They hit the road for Huffman next week.
“We were on a three-game down spin and it’s tough, it’s tough to go to practice, so I’m thankful for those young people and I’m thankful for those coaches,” said Hewitt-Trussville head coach Hal Riddle.
Riddle complimented his players for playing like “champions” tonight.
Hewitt-Trussville was in good shape with only seconds remaining in the first half, but felt the need to throw one last haymaker before the bell. Senior quarterback Blake Bailey rolled right and hung the ball up into the sky as time expired. Thirty-five yards later, senior Riley Stokes climbed high and fought the ball away from Gardendale defenders to increase the Huskies’ lead to 26-0 at the break.
Stokes’ willful effort gave Bailey his third touchdown pass of the first half and was the unofficial knockout punch of the night.
Hewitt-Trussville’s other score came on its first drive of the night—a four-play effort that ended with Peyton Palmer’s 24-yard run through the middle of Gardendale’s defense.
The Rockets did manage to earn some fraction of respect in the final 24 minutes. Instead of wallowing on the mat, Gardendale found a way to reach the end zone on consecutive drives near the end.
Senior signal caller Hunter Crook dropped one through double coverage to his big tight end Gabe Hill for a 28-yard score with 4:46 remaining in the third. It pulled the score to 33-7 in favor of the home team.
Minutes later, Crook struck again, this time to Davin Cameon from 18 yards out. But after a night full of taking body shots, it was too little, too late for the visitors.
Gardendale found nine of its 10 first downs in the second half. In total, Gardendale rushed the ball for only 76 yards and threw for another 129 yards.
The Huskies hope their two-quarterback system will continue clicking the way it did this week. Bailey, a pocket passer, is the primary weapon, but sophomore Zach Thomas and his speedy wheels provide the offense with a much different look.
While Bailey did his work through the air, completing 18-of-24 passes for 283 yards and three touchdowns, Thomas stayed grounded on his way to a 16-carry, 101-yard performance.
“(Thomas) is a dual athlete player and he’s only a sophomore so he’s only going to get better,” Bailey said of his younger quarterback. “That pushes me because I’m a senior and I’m getting pushed by a sophomore. That makes everyone better.”
The conflicting styles can keep defenses off balance, and possibly push Hewitt-Trussville into the postseason. A win over the Vikings next Friday would likely place them in as the No. 4 seed from Region 6.
Cyle Moore’s 1-yard touchdown rush was the Huskies’ only score of the second half.
Gardendale will welcome Carver-Birmingham to Driver Stadium for next week’s region contest. Hewitt-Trussville will prepare for the very important Huffman game Thursday at Lawson Field.