Ronnie Hagood, for The Tribune
FORT PAYNE — The Springville Tigers began Class 6A, Region 7 play on Friday evening on the road, taking the trip up Interstate 59 to Fort Payne. The last time the Tigers made this trip was in 2011 when they fell 43-12 to the Wildcats. Nine years later, now in the same class and region, things are bound to be a little better, right?
Unfortunately for the fans in purple and gold and the team dressed in white, the results were eerily similar. The Wildcats moved to 2-0 in region play with a 38-14 win over Springville.
Fort Payne opened up the scoring in the first quarter when quarterback John David Blalock found tight end Sawyer Burt in stride for a 38-yard touchdown pass. After a Pearson Baldwin 65-yard run set up the Tigers with a first and goal from the Wildcats 5-yard line, the Fort Payne defense would stand firm, forcing a field goal attempt which was no good.
Blalock would engineer a drive from the Springville 20-yard line that would be capped off with a 4-yard touchdown run from Fort Payne’s Hunter Love. At the end of the first quarter, Springville trailed 14-0.
Thanks to some gamesmanship from the Fort Payne defensive line, the Tigers’ offense struggled all night to get the snap off without a whistle being blown. Springville head coach Michael Graben addressed the matter following the game.
“Their kids were yelling go. Every time we got something going, we got a procedure penalty and they marked it back five yards,” said Grraben.
Despite the constant setbacks, the Tigers cut Fort Payne’s lead in half, midway through the second quarter. Baldwin connected with Gage Fredrick for a 13-yard touchdown pass, making it a 14-7 game.
Less than a minute later, David Blalock picked up his second touchdown of the night. The Wildcats quarterback ran the ball 74-yards off a bootleg to reestablish the Wildcats two touchdown lead at 21-7. With just 50 seconds remaining in the first half, Blalock delivered the back breaking blow. A 30-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Love made it a 28-7 Fort Payne lead going into halftime.
After the game, Coach Graben placed the blame on himself, despite the numerous penalties that either nullified big plays or set the offense up behind the chains.
“I have to do a much better job of coaching our kids,” said Graben. “That’s one of the differences tonight. It’s execution on our part or lack thereof.”
After three straight on the road, Springville plays at home next Friday night. Due to the Coronavirus it will be senior night as the Tigers will play host to another new 6A school. The Scottsboro Wildcats will make the trip to Tiger Stadium for the first ever matchup between the two schools. Scottsboro enters the game 1-2 and 1-0 in region play.