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  • Tyler Harden

Strong second half leads Pinson Valley to victory in 6A State Championship

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TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA— The Pinson Valley Indians and the Spanish Fort Toros are arguably two of the best teams in the state of Alabama. Pinson Valley, lead by Alabama commit and the number-one cornerback in the country according to 247sports, Ga’Quincy “Kool-Aid” McKinstry, was looking to win their 3rd 6A state championship in the last 4 years. Spanish Fort, lead by Oregon Commit and defensive end, Christian Burkhalter, had lost in the 6A State Championship last year to Oxford 14-13. The Toros had made it back to the finals, looking to redeem themselves after losing in a heartbreaker last season. But the Indians came in with a different mindset, as they came in looking to add to their legacy.

Pinson Valley received the ball to start the game, and the offense stepped on the gas right from the first play. Quarterback Zach Pyron handed the ball of to running back, Mike Sharpe Jr., and he found room to run for a 35-yard touchdown to give the Indians their first points of the game (PAT good). The Indians then came up with another break, forcing a Spanish Fort punt, which was punted shortly. As a result, Pinson Valley had great field position at their own 40-yard line. However, after Pyron completed a pass to Micah Woods for a touchdown, the play was called back due to an illegal player down field. So the Indians had to settle for a field goal to make the score 10-0. Spanish Fort couldn’t answer, and the first quarter ended with Pinson Valley leading 10-0.

However, Spanish Fort found some momentum to start the second quarter. Cassius Taylor came up with a big sack for the Toros to force a Pinson Valley punt on 4th and 20. The Toros kept their rhythm going, as they blocked the punt, and recovered the ball with great field position at the Pinson Valley 18-yard line.

The Indians’ defense protected the end zone, however, as Tomas Wesley intercepted a pass, and returned it to their own 24-yard line. But the offense couldn’t take advantage and was forced to punt.

The Spanish Fort offense was able to regain their momentum, and Johnny Morris and Brendon Byrd led the Toros all the way to the Pinson Valley 3-yard line. Byrd was able to break tackles and get in the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown (PAT good). After a Pinson Valley muffed punt and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, the Toros found themselves at the Pinson Valley 8-yard line. Brendon Byrd ran a quarterback sneak, and broke the plain of the goalie for a touchdown to take a 13-10 lead (PAT no good). After another Pinson Valley forced punt, Spanish Fort went into halftime with a 13-10 lead.

After both teams were forced to punt to start the second half, the Spanish Fort defense was able to stop Pinson Valley’s strong run game. But Zach Pyron was able to find a rhythm with his receivers, as he completed three consecutive passes to bring the Indians to the Spanish Fort 37-yard line. Pyron then ran for a 1st down on 3rd down to the Spanish Fort 25-yard line, and the third quarter then ended with Spanish Fort still in the lead 13-10.

Pinson Valley couldn’t get in the end zone to start the fourth quarter, as Spanish Fort forced a turnover on downs on 4th and 7. The Toro offense couldn’t take advantage, as they were forced to punt.

Zach Pyron kept his good connection with his receivers on their next possession, as he found Ga’Quincy McKinstry for a 58-yard touchdown to take the lead 17-13 (PAT good). After Spanish Fort was forced to punt, the Indians’ offense kept moving forward, as their strong run game lead them to the Spanish Fort 11-yard line. Pyron then found Jaquel Fells wide open in the end zone for a touchdown, and the Indians extended their lead to 23-13 (PAT no good).

Spanish Fort wouldn’t go away just yet, as Brendon Byrd found Jacob Godfrey on third down for a first down at the 50-yard line. The Indians’ defense, however, forced an incomplete pass on 4th down, and took over at their own 49. After a Pinson Valley punt, Spanish Fort had one more chance to try and stay in the game. However, the Pinson Valley defense stayed strong, and forced a turnover on downs to secure the state championship win 23-13.

Pinson Valley ends their season with an 11-2 record, and wins their third 6A state championship in the last four years. Spanish Fort ends their season with a 12-4 record.

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