Sardis, Boaz square off in Sand Mountain rivalry showdown

Sardis' Braun Pee runs the ball against Guntersville on Oct. 5. (Photo by Dave Hyatt | Gadsden Times)

Boaz and Sardis face off tonight in Sardis City in a Sand Mountain rivalry game that will allow one team to replace the agony of defeat with the thrill of victory after losses in Week 9.

The Pirates hosted Etowah last week with a chance to secure second place in Class 5A, Region 7 and  a first-round  playoff game at home with a win and a loss by Arab. However, the rival Blue Devils returned to Attalla with a 28-15 win, which dropped Boaz to the No. 4 spot and meant traveling to No. 1 Muscle Shoals in next week’s first round.

Sardis (6-3, 5-2) was playing for a region title last week when it hosted Class 4A, No. 1 Oneonta. Things went off the rails quickly, as star running back Toby Pee left the game with an injury in the second quarter and the Lions never recovered, falling 49-0. The loss dropped Sardis to the third seed out of Region 6. The Lions must travel to Lincoln to open the postseason.

Pee has emerged as a 4A Back of the Year contender. He has more than 1,500 yards rushing with 28 touchdown runs and more than 500 yards receiving with four more scores. His status for Friday’s game is undetermined.

“It’s gonna be a thing where we’ll see how he feels,” Sardis coach Gene Hill said. “He’s been limited in practice. He’s been involved in some therapy. We hope he’s able to go. If he can play, he’ll probably play.”

Last week was the first time all season that Sardis did not score at least 28 points in a game in 2012. The loss also was the second in a row for the Lions, who were riding a six-game winning streak before a 55-44 loss to Fairview in Week 8.

Getting back to how they played in the first seven weeks of the year will be an important factor for Hill and his team tonight.

“We played a great football team last week,” Hill said. “I didn’t think we played real well in any phase of our game. We’re using this (game) as a way to hopefully get back to playing well before we start the second season.”

Quarterback Will Scott has been one of the most productive passers in The Gadsden Times’ coverage area this season. He has thrown for nearly 2,000 yards with 11 touchdowns.

Kailon Robeson has been Scott’s top target aside from Pee. He has nearly 600 yards receiving in 2012.

Braun Pee also has emerged as a runner and receiver.

On defense, Zach Childers leads The Times’ coverage area in tackles with 126.

Like the Lions, the Pirates will be looking to enter the playoffs on a positive note.

The Pirates are 6-3 overall and finished 4-3 in region action. Like Sardis, Boaz has lost two in a row, falling to Arab before Etowah.

Quarterback Casey Wood has been a standout for the Pirates this season. He has thrown for 1,486 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2012. Wood also leads the Pirates in rushing yards, with 326.

Among his targets is Peyton Gilliland, who has been one of the area’s most productive receivers this year. He has 39 catches for 730 yards and five touchdowns on the season.

Brandon Holland has totalled 104 tackles to pace Boaz on the defensive side of the ball.

In order to gain some traction for the postseason and gain a win, Hill knows his team will have to play at a high level.

“They are a very dangerous team,” he said. “They’ve moved to the spread offense this year. They’ve put up a lot of points. Their three losses were to very good football teams. They’ve got a very good 5A playoff football team. They’re really sound on defense. They come to play every week. We’re going to have to play as good as we can play just to be in the ballgame.”