Coosa Valley claims region championship

By STEVEN KILPATRICK / Staff Writer

With the Alabama Independent Schools Association Class 1A, Region 2 championship on the line, the Coosa Valley Academy Rebels took down the Sumter Academy Eagles 21-7 on Oct. 15.

The Coosa Valley win secures home-field advantage for the Rebels (7-1 overall, 6-0 n AISA Class 1A, Region 2) through the first two rounds of the AISA Class 1A playoffs.

Sumter Academy started the game with a long drive, only to be forced to punt from its own 44-yard line. On the first play of the Rebels’ offensive drive, the Sumter defense forced a fumble and recovered the ball on the 17-yard line. Two plays later, Sumter Academy ran in for a 13-yard touchdown and put its only points on the board for the night early in the first quarter.

After giving up an early turnover and score, the Rebels’ were looking to answer back quickly and take back the momentum in the game. On the first play of the next drive, senior quarterback John Bullen and wide receiver Hunter Winslett connected for a 71-yard touchdown to tie the game.

The Rebels held the momentum for the rest of the half. The defense held Sumter on two consecutive fourth-down tries and forced a punt in the second quarter. After stopping the Eagles’ second drive of the second quarter, Bullen connected with Tanner Wood for another Coosa Valley touchdown to give the Rebels a 14-7 lead heading into the locker room at halftime.

After being forced to punt on the opening drive of the second half, Coosa Valley put a dagger in the heart of the Sumter Academy Eagles with a 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive finished off with a third touchdown pass from John Bullen to senior wide receiver Sam Bullard.

With a 14-point lead midway through the third quarter, the Coosa Valley defense stepped up to hold onto the lead and secure the win. Coosa Valley held the Eagles to only 37 yards in the third quarter.

“We had a big drive to start the second half, to go up by two touchdowns, and we moved the ball very well and kept the ball away from them a lot of the second half,” said Coosa Valley coach Vince DiLorenzo.

With the game on the line, Coosa Valley was forced to punt early in the fourth quarter.

Starting from their own 24-yard line, the Eagles began their drive down the field. After 12 plays, they were on the Rebels’ 28-yd line. With a little over five minutes left in the game, Bullard intercepted a pass to give the ball back to his offense.

Five plays later, Sumter forced a fumble to take back the ball and gave the Eagles life once again. On the second play of Sumter’s drive, Bullard came up with another huge interception to secure the victory for the Rebels.

“We did a lot  of the things we needed to do to beat them,” DiLorenzo said. “I don’t think it is going to be hard to keep these guys motivated.”

Coosa Valley finished the game with 272 yards of total offense. John Bullen completed 12-of-22 passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Bullen also rushed for 43 yards and a touchdow on 15 carries.

Winslett caught four passes for 108 yards and a touchdown.

Preston Parker led the Rebels with 16 tackles. Ryan Batson added 15 tackles. Daniel Kennedy and Corey Burton finished with 12 tackles each.

The Rebels travel to Dixie Academy for a non-region contest Oct. 22.