And it couldn’t have come at a better time for the emotionally drained Bulldogs.
Former Piedmont running back Christian Cantrell, who played a vital role in the Bulldogs 2009 Class 3A state championship season, was killed in an automobile accident Aug. 28 – just three days before the season opener.
Smith’s team persevered, however, to notch the victory.
Smith, who is in his seventh season at Piedmont, became a head coach at age 24 at Cedar Bluff where he served for 11 years. His record is now 150-60 overall and his Piedmont teams have gone 65-15, averaging 10.7 wins per season overall and almost 12 wins a year over the last five campaigns.
The Bulldogs’ milestone victory grabbed the AHSAA Prep Spotlight for Week 1, edging out an outstanding kicking performance, and a state record 108-yard interception return for a touchdown and a career high passing effort for one of the state’s top senior quarterbacks against a defending state champion.
JAMES SHERMAN, MONTGOMERY CATHOLIC: The Knights place-kicker booted three-of-three field goal attempts in the fourth quarter to lift Catholic to a 23-20 win over St. Jude. His 35-yarder made it 20-17 with nine minutes left. His 48-yarder tied it at 20-20 with 2:46 left. And, his 40-yarder with five seconds gave the Knights the three-point victory over the Pirates.
TOMMY WILSON, DEMOPOLIS: The senior cornerback snared an interception over his shoulder eight yards deep in the end zone late in the second quarter against American Christian, then turned and sped down the left sideline before crossing to the right side near midfield and waltzed into the end zone 108 yards away in a 49-7 win over the Patriots. The 108-yard interception return appears to be the longest in AHSAA history.
JEREMY JOHNSON, CARVER-MONTGOMERY: The talented senior quarterback was 21-of-30 passing for 388 yards and four touchdowns and also rushed for 91 yards and two more scores as the Wolverines downed defending Class 6A state champion Prattville 49-24. The win snapped the Lions’ 34-game winning streak against Montgomery schools.
Several other outstanding highlights were reported for week one including:
LOGAN McPHERSON, FORT PAYNE: The Wildcats place-kicker kicked field goals of 39 and 26 yards, was 3-of-3 on extra points and put five of six kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks as Fort Payne won 27-10 over North Jackson.
MARSHALL GEE, DONOHO: Completed 10-of- 25 passes for 191 yards and touchdowns of 24, 62 and 2 yards in a 30-28 victory at Valley Head. The 2-yarder came as time expired to give the Falcons the win. He also kicked all three extra points he tried and a 30-yard field goal.
NICK MULLENS, SPAIN PARK: Was 31-of-53 passing for 349 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions in a 37-24 loss at Austin. Receiver Ben Olinger had 11 catches for 144 yards and one score.
CHRIS SPARKMAN, AUSTIN: The Black Bears quarterback completed 20-of-28 passes for 264 yards with two touchdowns in the same game to give Austin the 37-24 win over Spain Park.
GEOFFREY BRAMBLETT, LOCUST FORK: Was 28-of-46 passing for 340 yards and two TDs, rushed for 89 yards on 24 carries and totaled 429 yards in a 45-26 loss to New Hope. Bramblett passed for 2,240 yards in 2011 for the Hornets in 10 games. Receiver Clay Smith had nine catches for 161 yards and one TD.
TYLER SMITH, ISABELLA: The quarterback rushed 25 times for 266 yards and four touchdowns and passed for a fifth TD in the Mustangs’ 43-29 win over Central Coosa.
KEITH BENDER, SYLVANIA: Caught eight passes for 256 yards and four touchdowns in a 35-28 victory over Sardis. Bender's touchdown receptions covered 40, 3, 70 and 52 yards. The 70 and 52-yarders came in the fourth quarter, helping the Rams extend a 21-20 lead to 35-21.
CORY BATTLE, HORSESHOE BEND: Totaled 374 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns in win 59-21 win over Wadley.
MICHAEL JACKSON, RUSSELLVILLE: Rushed 22 times for 272 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-14 win over Deshler.
TREY COLLINS, BEAUREGARD: Scored on both of his catches – which went for 98 yards combined – returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown and added a rushing touchdown in a 47-29 upset win over Handley to snap the 2011 Class 3A state champs’ 15-game winning streak.
E.J. MOSS, ASHVILLE: The junior quarterback had 247 yards rushing, 90 passing and scored three touchdowns in Ashville's 25-21 win over Springville.
JASON SMITH, McGILL-TOOLEN: The quarterback ran for 124 yards on five carries and completed 9-of-13 passes for 165 yards and two TDs in the Yellow Jackets’ 50-28 win over UMS-Wright.
KARTEZ CARR, ST. CLAIR COUNTY: Rushed for 192 yards on 20 carries with one TD and finished with 283 all-purpose yards in the Saints’ 28-20 loss to Moody. Matt Hicks also completed 16-of-21 passes for 190 yards and a score.
JAMAL HOWARD, CENTRAL-PHENIX CITY: Led the Red Devils to a 48-0 win over Russell County in his first start. He was 9-of-13 passing for 206 yards and a TD and also rushed for 33 yards and another score.
SEAN WALLACE, MARION COUNTY: The quarterback helped the defending 1A state champion Red Raiders roll up 468 total yards in a 57-21 win over Hackleburg. He was 4-of-7 passing for 109 yards and one TD and had five rush attempts for 123 yards and three TDs with his long an 89-yard run.
KRISTIAN JONES, HACKLEBURG: The freshman ran for 192 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries in the 57-21 loss to Marion County.
DYLAN MACKEY, SAND ROCK: The junior quarterback completed 7-of-12 passes for 125 yards, rushed for 90 yards on 10 carries with two scores and booted a 30-yard field goal in the Wildcats' 31-19 victory at Pisgah.
MATT HAGLER, SLOCOMB: Completed 9-of-13 passes for 161 yards, rushed for 85 yards and accounted for four touchdowns as the Red Tops beat Rehobeth 24-13.
C.J. JONES, COLLINSVILLE: The senior quarterback completed 7-of-10 passes for 134 yards and four touchdowns (45, 25, 39, 7 yards) in the Panthers' 38-13 win over Coosa Christian.
REID RIALS, ELBA: The sophomore had an impressive performance in his first varsity start completing 11-of-17 passes for 102 yards and one TD, rushed for a 36-yard TD and punted twice for a 32-yard average with one settling on the 2-yard line in a 21-20 loss to Opp.
BERRON TYSON, BAKER: Rushed for 293 yards and three first-half touchdowns in the Hornets’ 34-18 win over B.C. Rain. Tyson scored on runs of 2, 80 and 16 yards.
TYLER ROGERS, MOBILE CHRISTIAN: Piled up 248 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns in the Leopards’ 37-36 win over St. Luke’s.
PARKER MASON, GULF SHORES: Rushed for three touchdowns on runs of 21, 23 and 16 yards and fired a 41-yard TD pass to account for four TDs in a 40-6 win over Satsuma.
FORREST LIVINGSTON, SPRING GARDEN: The senior running back had 22 carries for 181 yards and four touchdowns (5, 21,1 and 17 yards) in a 34-17 win over Fayetteville. He also caught two passes for 47 yards to give him 228 total yards.
DEONTA MOORE, HUNTSVILLE: Had 22 carries for 208 yards and two TDs as Huntsville beat Sparkman 51-19.
JORDAN LAKE, WESTMINISTER: Ran for 159 yards and three TDs on nine carries and added a fourth score on a 25-yard pass reception in limited duty as Westminster beat Pope John Paul II 38-14.
ANTHONY DOUGLAS, DAVIDSON: Was one of three running backs going over 100 yards as the Warriors rolled up 429 rushing yards in a 31-24 win over Vigor. Douglas had 155 yards on 16 carries with one TD, Jaquell Craig added 154 yards and two scores on 15 carries, and Cam Jackson had 117 on 16 tries. He also was 11-of-15 passing for 113 yards as Davidson finished with 542 yards.
CODY O’TOOLE, ONEONTA: In his first start at QB, the senior led the Redskins to a 21-16 victory over Pinson Valley by completing 13-of-20 passes for 216 yards and three touchdowns (9, 72, 9 yards). He added another 53 yards rushing on nine attempts for 269 total yards. Senior receiver Alvin Scott had seven catches for 151 yards and two scores.
JEREMY HINDS, LEE-HUNTSVILLE: Hinds had a hand in all of his team’s points. He rushed 11 times for 132 yards with one touchdown, completed 13-of-15 passes for 130 yards with three touchdowns, passed twice for two-point conversions and ran for another in a 36-12 victory over city rival Columbia.
JUSTON MCCANTS, PARKER: Passed for five touchdowns (41, 24, 17, 13 and 9 yards) on 14-of-23 pass attempts and finished with 224 yards as Parker downed Carver-Birmingham 55-24. He also added 48 yards rushing.
ARDARIUS STEWART, FULTONDALE: Piled up 285 yards of total offense with less than two quarters of snaps. He finished with 156 rushing yards on six carries and two scores, completed 8-of-10 passes for 129 yards and three TDs and chipped in a 66-yard punt return that was called back on a penalty in a 64-26 win over Montevallo.
JONATHAN FORD, NEW HOPE: Had 292 yards rushing on 13 carries with TD runs of 49, 46, 36 and 12 yards in a 45-26 win over Locust Fork. He also blocked two kicks on defense.
BOBBY FOX, WATERLOO: The junior rushed for 151 yards and two TDs on 22 carries in a 45-28 win over Holy Spirit. It was Waterloo’s first home win in over three years.
CEDRIX REED, FOLEY: Had more than 200 yards total offense with all three Foley touchdowns in a 21-13 win over Alma Bryant. He rushed for two TDs (36 and 25 yards) and returned a punt 73 yards for the third TD.
CONNOR SHORT, HOOVER: Threw for 239 yards on 21-of-31 passing and a 13-yard TD pass in a 35-10 win over Mississippi’s South Panola. He threw for 190 yards in the first half.
DESTIN TOLBERT, THOMPSON: Caught six passes for 112 yards and three touchdowns – 17, 26 and 9 yards – as the Warriors beat Shelby County 42-6. Tolbert also had a punt return for a touchdown called back because of a penalty.
DAMARRIUS BERRY, DALLAS COUNTY: Sparked Dallas County’s 27-16 win over Calhoun with 114 yards rushing and two TDs on 20 carries as the Bulldogs snapped a 13-game losing streak.
BO SCARBROUGH, NORTHRIDGE: The workhorse running back had 37 carries for 214 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Jaguars to a 40-30 win over Bob Jones.
R.J. DEDRICK, FAIRFIELD: The receiver/safety/running back had 21 rushes for 125 yards and one TD and made three tackles on defense as the Tigers beat Ramsay 16-6.
JAMARCUS KING, BLOUNT: Returned a punt 47 yards for a touchdown and had TD receptions of 12 and 43 yards in the Leopards’ 38-6 victory over LeFlore.
JOE VINES, LAFAYETTE: Caught six balls for 123 yards and three touchdowns in a 33-14 win over Loachapoka. All three of his touchdowns came in the first half.
DAQUAN RICE, BARBOUR COUNTY: Ran for 176 yards and scored three TDs on runs of 11, 12 and 34 yards in a 48-28 win over Bullock County.
BRYANT HORN, BENJAMIN RUSSELL: The Wildcats quarterback was 9-of-13 passing for 172 yards and one TD and directed an offense with no turnovers in a 14-7 win over Opelika.
MITCH STULTS, HAMILTON: Rolled up 276 all-purpose yards on offense, had two fumble recoveries, an interception, four tackles and two stops on fourth down to help preserve a 27-7 win over Sulligent.
ANTHONY McCOSTGLIN, BROOKWOOD: Rushed for 229 yards and three touchdowns in a 28-13 win over Hale County.
DEVONTE SIMON, PICKENS COUNTY: Accounted for four touchdowns – rushing for two (1 and 63 yards), passing for a 48-yard score and returning a kickoff 84 yards for another TD as the Tornadoes thumped Fayette County 40-31.
JERMICHAEL HARRIS, PARRISH: Accounted for 262 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns in Parrish's 33-24 win over Oakman. He had 112 return yards including a 70-yard kickoff return for a TD and rushed for 142 yards on 12 carries.
ROBBIE BOYD, WINFIELD: Had two interceptions as the Pirates swiped six overall in a 26-0 win over Brilliant. Blake Graham, Kyle Nixon, Kody Nixon and Spencer Beard also had one each.
DAKE RIVERS, BEAUREGARD: Recorded 17 tackles, one for a loss, in Beauregard’s 47-29 win over Handley.
DESHAWN JOHNSON, SLOCOMB: Recovered four fumbles and made an interception on defense to account for five turnovers and also had five tackles as Slocomb beat Rehobeth 24-13.
MONTERIO BURCHFIELD, MADISON COUNTY: Had 12 tackles, three for loss, one interception and one fumble recovery in a 20-2 win over East Limestone. He also caught five passes for 65 yards and a TD and had a two-point conversion reception.
TANNER HARTLINE, FORT PAYNE: Recorded seven tackles with two sacks, one pressure and two big hits as the Wildcats won 27-10 at North Jackson.
TERRELL WOODS, BOAZ: Had eight tackles including five for a loss, three quarterback hurries, 1.5 sacks, a caused fumble and pass break-up in a 36-13 win over Guntersville.
HARRISON JORDAN, NORTHVIEW: The sophomore linebacker had 16 tackles, a forced fumble and a sack as the Cougars beat Sidney Lanier 16-15 – Northview’s first win over a 6A opponent in three years.
MICAEL AL-DIJILIA, HOLY SPIRIT: The sophomore had five tackles and returned his one interception 80 yards for a touchdown in a 45-28 Titans loss to Waterloo. He also had 72 yards rushing and three catches for 32 yards and another TD.
BRADLEY DARBY, WATERLOO: Had 12 tackles, two for a loss, forced two fumbles and recovered two in a 45-28 win over Holy Spirit. He returned one fumble 73 yards for a TD. Darby also rushed 13 times for 116 yards and two TDs and scored four two-point conversions.
DARRELL WHATLEY, WESTBROOK CHRISTIAN: The senior made 10 tackles, registered a sack and an interception in a 13-7 win over Glencoe.
WILLIE PRINGLE, CHOCTAW COUNTY: Had 12 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles in a 34-0 win over Red Level.
JAVION BANKS, BENJAMIN RUSSELL: The linebacker had 15 tackles, one sack and an interception to help hold Opelika to just 80 yards rushing in the Wildcats’ 14-7 win.
KEN GAMBLE, WOODLAWN: The senior free safety intercepted four passes in a 20-15 win over Jackson-Olin.
CHRIS JOHNSON, OAK MOUNTAIN: Blocked a punt out of the end zone with 15.8 seconds left for a safety to give the Eagles an 8-7 victory over Shades Valley.
TREY PRESTRIDGE, OAK GROVE: Led the Tigers’ defense with 12 tackles and added 94 yards running on 15 carries as the Tigers fell 13-7 to Haleyville.