By Blake Ells
Senior quarterback Hamp Sisson led Mountain Brook to a 23-22 victory over Bob Jones in the first round of the AHSAA state playoffs, the Spartans’ first playoff victory since 2012.
Harold Joiner and AJ Gates sat with injuries, leaving Sisson as the offensive leader. But Sisson had help.
“I felt like the offensive line took control of the line of scrimmage,” said coach Chris Yeager. “That’s our element. The last time they were in a four quarter football game was Oct. 6, and we’ve been in one every single week. We’ve only had two games this year that didn’t come down to the fourth quarter or the last drive or the last play of the game.”
That stretch included an overtime win at Vestavia Hills and wins over Oak Mountain and Huffman with margins thinner than a touchdown. Meanwhile, the Bob Jones Patriots coasted to big victories over Gadsden City, Grissom and Buckhorn after their mid-season loss at Hewitt-Trussville.
“Our region is a very physical region; it’s a very fast region,” Yeager said.
He said playing in the state’s most challenging region helped prepare his team for the postseason.
“There’s a lot of parity. If you don’t get ready to play in our region, you’re gonna lose. That’s the bottom line. You have to play quality football every week.
“Even when they were ahead of us – they took it down the field the first two times they had the ball and our defense held them to field goals – I felt really good. When we scored and took the lead, it was game on.”
As a reward, the Spartans will get a rematch Nov. 17 with region foe Thompson, which defeated the Spartans 40-13 on Sept. 15.
After the first-round game, Yeager was told that Joiner and Gates would definitely be sidelined again. But that status had improved to “doubtful” by the beginning of the week.
Linebacker Walker McCraney filled their void in the backfield, and the Spartans will move forward with that game plan. He had not practiced at the position, but Yeager felt confident in his knowledge of the offensive playbook and his ability to execute.
“Nobody has held Thompson to less than 30 points this year,” said Yeager. “They’re just a machine on offense, and they’re vicious on defense. One of the things we need to do is we have to hold on to the ball. If we turn the ball over, it won’t even be a game. We need to have some element of keeping our defense off the field because their offense is so good.”
The Year’s Legacy
Mountain Brook’s senior class, led by Sisson, will leave quite a legacy behind. It’s rooted in effort – in heart – and it’s taken this team farther than it could have otherwise gone.
“The legacy that I want them to leave is their best effort,” said Yeager. “I want them to be an example to our younger players about how we play football at Mountain Brook.
“This group has played four quarters all season long. And that’s what we want to do (against Thompson). If it’s 70 plays, I don’t want them playing 68 plays; I want them playing 70 plays. I think that’s shown. We’ve won five games this season at the very end. We could just as easily be sitting here with a two- or three-win season, but they do a great job of finishing.”