Coosa Valley seals playoff bid with win over Chambers

Coosa Valley Academy used a strong defensive effort in the first half and added an explosive punch in the second half Oct. 9 to defeat Chambers Academy 20-6. The win clinches a spot for the Rebels in the Alabama Independent Schools Association Class 1A playoffs.

“I am happy for the Coosa Valley community that have supported us,” DiLorenzo said. “It is a remarkable achievement for these kids, but we are not finished with what we want to accomplish this season.”

The rain started falling at Coosa Valley just minutes before kickoff and continued throughout most of the first half. Both teams struggled offensively to hang onto the football as they combined for seven fumbles.

Coosa Valley was able to gain only 64 yards of total offense in the first half, but was led by strong defensive play. Senior Zade Kayyali led the Coosa Valley defense with nine first-half tackles.

When Coosa Valley came out for the second half, DiLorenzo reminded them that they were in this same situation when they played Dixie earlier this season. They went on to score on their first three drives of the second half that night and they followed that script again this night.

Coosa Valley took the second half kickoff and drove the ball 63 yards in eight plays that was capped off when Phillip Neal took the ball in from three yards out on a quarterback sneak to put the Rebels up 6-0. Neal’s extra-point attempt was no good.

Coosa Valley’s defense held Chambers on fourth-and-1 and took over on Chambers’ 24-yard line. Three plays later, Ricky Ellison scored on a 6-yard run to help Coosa Valley push its lead to 12-0.

Coosa Valley’s third possession of the second half saw them take the ball 67 yards on nine plays with Ellison scoring his second touchdown on the night with a 4-yard run over left tackle. John Bullen would run in the two-point conversion to help Coosa Valley expand its lead to 20-0.

As the time ticked off the clock to end the game, the Coosa Valley players were able to celebrate by giving their coach a Gatorade bath. It was an enjoyable one as Coosa Valley advances to the AISA playoffs for the first time since 2002.

“Defensively, we played a great game,” DiLorenzo said. “ Offensively, we made mistakes and couldn’t get it going. We didn’t play well in the first half. We made adjustments at the half and came out in the second half and put ourselves in a position to make the plays.”

Coosa Valley rolled up over 250 yards of offense on the night. They were led on the ground by Ricky Ellison, who had 87 yards on 13 carries with two touchdowns. Phillip Neal added 67 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown. John Bullen caught two passes for 25 yards and had 60 yards on two punt returns.

Defensively, the Rebels were led by Ricky Ellison with 18 tackles and Zade Kayyali with 16 tackles.