Coosa Valley claims win over Sparta in final game of season

Published 10:51 am Monday, October 30, 2023

By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

HARPERSVILLE – The Coosa Valley Rebels went out on a high note with a 48-24 win over the Sparta Warriors in the final game of the year on Oct. 27.

“Our last game was our best game,” Coosa Valley coach Vince DiLorenzo said. “We flew to the football all night and showed maximum effort. We couldn’t be any prouder of how they answered the bell.”

Coosa Valley was powered to victory by another great rushing night by quarterback Konner Steele, who ran for 280 yards on 25 carries for six touchdowns.

After the Rebels defense forced two punts to start the game, their offense capitalized with touchdowns on both of their first two offensive drives. That left the score 13-0 after the first quarter and gave Coosa Valley all of the momentum to start the game.

The quarter wasn’t all positive for the Rebels as senior center Brycen Wilson went down in the first quarter after playing a key role in the offensive line all season. However, Joseph Grantham and Zack Swalley slid right into the offensive line to keep the Rebels rolling, and DiLorenzo was proud of their efforts.

The same outcome on both teams’ first drives happened again to start the second quarter, as a Warriors punt led to Coosa Valley points. A rushing touchdown midway through the quarter gave the Rebels a 19-0 lead.

Sparta responded by scoring its first touchdown of the night, and the rushing score and ensuing two-point conversion cut the lead to 19-8.

With less than two minutes left in the second quarter, Coosa Valley scored on the ground again, and this time, it added a two-point conversion to extend the lead to 27-8.

The Warriors quickly got another eight points off a trip to the end zone to end the half, but the Rebels were still in control with a 28-16 lead at the break.

Late in the third quarter, Coosa Valley was the first to get on the board in the second half with a short rushing score to add on six more points for a 33-16 lead.

In the fourth quarter, the Warriors made it a close game with a touchdown with nine minutes left in the game to cut the Rebels’ lead to just nine.

However, Coosa Valley finished the game strong and put the game away. First, the Rebels scored on their next drive to increase their lead to 41-24, and then, with less than three minutes to go, they slammed the door shut on any threat of a Sparta comeback with their final touchdown of the night to seal the 48-24 win.

The Rebels defense was a key reason why they secured the win over Sparta. Kaeden Smalls led the way with 12 tackles, including three tackles for loss. Dustin Prickett had seven tackles, including five assisted tackles, and Steele secured four.

“We flew to the football all night and showed maximum effort,” DiLorenzo said. “We couldn’t be any prouder of how they answered the bell.”

Steele only needed three completions in the air to secure the win, and those went to Coby Moore for 23 yards, Hunter Willis for 15 yards and Braden Deloach for six yards. In total, Steele had 44 passing yards. In addition, DiLorenzo complimented their blocking efforts in tandem with the offensive line to open up lanes.

Over on special teams, Hunter Willis racked up 187 yards on eight kickoff and punt returns, which gave Coosa Valley great field position to work with all night. Kaeden Smalls also had six rushing yards and a touchdown, and Braden Smalls had ten yards on the ground.

With the complete performance from all three phases on senior night, Coosa Valley’s seniors got to close out their careers with a win, which DiLorenzo was proud of them for achieving, especially after the effort that they and their teammates showed to get better as the season went on.

“We improved over the course of the year, and it was good to see our seniors go out with a win,” DiLorenzo said.