ATHENS — Athens High football coach Cody Gross said his team’s quarterback Jordan Scott doesn’t necessarily get the attention he deserves.
“Nobody wants to talk about that guy but me,” Gross said Friday night after his team dismantled Cullman, 28-0, in a key Class 6A Region 8 game at Golden Eagle Stadium in Athens.
With all due respect to Gross, chances are plenty of people are talking about Scott after the 5-foot-11, 156-pound senior was close to perfect in what could have been the Golden Eagles' best win of the season. Scott was 15-of-18 through the air for 178 yards with three touchdown passes. He also rushed for 48 yards on 12 carries.
About the only thing Scott didn’t do well was start quickly: He put the ball on the turf during the Golden Eagles' first offensive possession, and Cullman’s Cole Herfurth recovered at the Athens 30-yard line.
The mistake didn’t result in any Cullman points, though, as the Bearcats missed a field goal attempt. Scott then led Athens (6-2, 5-1 Region 8) on a 16-play, 80-yard drive that culminated with a three-yard touchdown run by Jaylen Gilbert (27 carries for 122 yards). Scott and Gilbert also connected on passing plays of 16 and 12 yards on the drive.
Athens scored on its next possession when Scott rolled right, pivoted and threw a screen pass to the left to Gilbert. The senior running back weaved his way into the end zone to complete the 16-yard scoring pass, and Athens took a 14-0 lead into halftime.
The Golden Eagles created more distance on the second half’s opening drive, marching 69 yards on 11 plays. Senior tight end Zachary Siwiec got the touchdown on a seven-yard reception from Scott with 7:10 left in the third quarter. The final points of the night came on a nine-yard scoring toss from Scott to Avonte Thompson with 2:42 remaining in the third quarter.
That was more than enough offensive support for an Athens defense that was dominant from the opening kickoff. Gross said he spent all week worrying about defending the Bearcats' running game. As it turned out, there was no reason to worry.
Cullman (6-2, 5-1 Region 8) managed just 73 yards on 27 carries and threw for 37 yards. Overall, the Bearcats gained 110 yards on 41 yards and had two first downs in the first half. Athens also got an interception from Cam Anderson and had seven tackles for loss, including three by strong safety Heath Carden.
Add it all up, and the Golden Eagles have a legitimate shot at their first region title since capturing Class 5A Region 8 in 2000. Athens, Cullman and Muscle Shoals each have one region loss heading into the final week of region play. The Golden Eagles, who have won four straight since dropping a 31-29 heartbreaker to Muscle Shoals on Sept. 18, need a Cullman win over Muscle Shoals next week to grab the top playoff spot from the region. But Gross said his team can’t worry about what happens in Cullman next week.
“We need to get ready to play the Red Raiders,” Gross said of next week’s regular season finale against Decatur.