Patriots stomp over past on path to 5A title game

Patriots stomp over past on path to 5A title game
Messenger Sports Editor
Henry County not only got the monkey off its back, it stomped it into submission.
The Patriots erased the disappointment of four previous failed chances at advancing to the state championship game with a resounding 40-14 romp over Hendersonville in Friday’s Class 5A semifinals in Paris.
An overflow crowd in excess of 6,000 roared its approval at every HC deed and celebrated on the field afterward as the Pats not only earned their first-ever title game appearance, but also avenged a bitter loss in last year’s state playoffs to the Commandos, who had beaten Henry County in all four previous meetings between the two.
Patriot head coach James Counce — a South Fulton High School product — will now take his unbeaten team to the 5A BlueCross Bowl on Friday at Cookeville, where it will meet fellow 14-0 entry Powell.
The two teams ended up co-No. 1s in the final Associated Press prep poll.
Shaquille Allen ran for 167 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Najee Ray rushed for 107 yards and a TD and also threw for two scores (to Brandon Donaldson and Evian Cook) as Henry County broke Friday’s semifinal game open with 21 unanswered points.
Storme Hillard had a pass interception that set up a touchdown, and positioned the Patriots for two other scores with punt returns.
Hendersonville ended its season at 9-5 and had two players ejected in a late-game skirmish.
In other semifinal games of local interest from Friday:
Milan 16, CPA 14
Braxton Simpson tackled backup CPA quarterback Nolan Kemp in the endzone for a safety with 8:50 to play, giving the Bulldogs the margin of victory and their eighth state championship game berth.
Milan (13-1), which has four titles in the program’s illustrious history, goes for No. 5 Friday at 3:30 in the Class 3A BlueCross Bowl against Christian Academy of Knoxville.
CAK (12-2) dethroned seven-time state champion Alcoa in the quarterfinals after losing to the Tornadoes the previous six years in the state playoffs.
Milan knocked out CPA starting QB Albert Mitchell on the first play of the second half in Friday’s semis and the Nashville visitors never threatened thereafter.
Bulldog fullback Arkel Coleman ran for 122 yards and both his teams’ TDs, and Milan outgained CPA in all 302-132.
Maplewood 28, Covington 7
The Chargers scored first, but Mr. Football Back of the Year finalist Ladarius Vanlier then ran for 233 yards and three touchdowns to end Covington’s bid for a fourth state title game appearance.
Vanlier had scoring runs of 50, 38 and then 51 yards on the third play of the fourth quarter. A 42-yard interception return of a Britt Dunn pass to paydirt by Cortez Adams with 9:20 top play sealed the verdict.
Covington rushed for 282 yards and ran 26 more plays than the Panthers with Terrence Pierson totaling 89 yards, Johnston White 78 and Colliar Robinson 62 on the ground.
Maplewood (11-3) will face defending 4A champ Greeneville in Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. BlueCross game at Cookeville, looking to avenge a 17-7 loss in last year’s semifinals.
Wayne Co. 33, West Carroll 0
Second-ranked Wayne County ended the War Eagles’ storybook season, scoring 19 points in the third quarter to break open a tight game.
The unbeaten Wildcats (13-0) will play for the Class 1A state title for the first time ever on Friday when they meet reigning titleist and perennial single-A power South Pittsburg (12-2) in the BlueCross Bowl.
The Pirates will be gunning for their sixth state championship in the history of the current playoff system.
Clint Butler ran for 175 yards, and Austin Rice — youngest son of head coach Ricky Rice — ran for a touchdown and threw a 70-yard TD pass to Haden Skelton to open the scoring.
West Carroll (8-5), which was making its first-ever appearance in the state semifinals, never seriously threatened offensively and finished with just 90 total yards and four first downs.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at
Published in The Messenger 11.28.11

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