Lanett’s season ends in third round of playoffs at Maplesville 29-6

Published 11:32 pm Friday, November 23, 2018

MAPLESVILLE — After spending most of the season ranked as the No. 1 team in 1A, the Panthers of Lanett ran into another 1A powerhouse, Maplesville, in a 29-6 season-ending loss on Friday night.

The rain started to pour and temperatures continued to drop as the final seconds of Lanett’s season ticked away in the Red Devils’ stadium.

“We had some opportunities early in the game, and we didn’t capitalize off of them,” Lanett head football coach Clifford Story, Jr. said. “I knew that would come back and haunt us against a good team like this. They were more physical. We have some young linebackers, and things that we have gotten by all year got exposed. We dwelled on the deep ball all year, and our guys wouldn’t cut the routes, wouldn’t stop, but that’s my fault. I have to work better on that stuff in the offseason, training. Try to get us bigger, faster, stronger.”

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The beginning of the game was a defensive grinder, with both teams going scoreless until the Red Devils punched in a touchdown run at the goal line with 3:41 remaining in the first half.

Leading up to the score, Lanett found itself in the red zone twice, coming up empty on both trips. On the first drive, the Panthers were stuffed on a fourth down run at the Red Devils’ four-yard line. On the second red zone trip, a holding penalty took the Panthers out of the red zone.

The teams traded penalties, including back-to-back penalties on Maplesville to bring the Red Devils back 30 yards on unsportsmanlike calls in a scoreless third quarter.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, however, Maplesville began to blow the game open. The Red Devils got a huge run to open up the final frame that got them across midfield. A few plays later, the Red Devils took a 14-0 lead with 9:58 to go in the ball game.

As the night’s rain began to fall, Kristian Story led the Panthers back down the field for a quick score, finishing the drive with a touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Trikweze Bridges with 7:38 to go. Lanett missed the extra point attempt.

The Red Devils answered on the ensuing drive with another rushing touchdown to push the lead to 21-6 with 4:48 remaining.

Penalties began to pile on Lanett as the Panthers were trying to make one last push for a comeback. Penalties led to a safety in the Panthers’ own end zone to make the score 23-6 with 3:29 remaining.

“We got a little greedy, we started getting out of character,” Story said. “Missing that extra point right there could’ve made it 14-7. The energy changed with that kickoff. I’m not pointing fingers at anybody, don’t get me wrong, but we just had a lot of different things that got us to this point that hurt us tonight.”

Maplesville punched Lanett in the mouth one more time with the longest touchdown run of the night with 3:15 remaining to make the lead 29-6.

“I have to tip my hat off to Maplesville,” Story said. “They’re a great football team. Their running game is awesome. I knew that physicality would play a big role, but we have to keep our heads up and keep grinding.”

Looking forward, Lanett returns a good corps at the skill positions. The team will be led by Kristian Story, the No. 1 athlete in Alabama for the Class of 2020, while other offensive weapons like Quae Houston and B.J. Smith can return as well. With seniors Bridges, Dee Dobbs and Kolby Davidson graduating, look for Houston to step up as Story’s No. 1 option next season.

“We’re going to get on the board, continue to get better, and learn from some things that we’ve been doing,” Coach Story said. “I love the group that we have coming back. We’ll be back, trust me. With the group that we’ve got coming back, we will be back. A lot of them will be playing basketball, but those that won’t be playing basketball, we’ll put them in the weight room and get them started now on things that we’re going to need to be successful with in the fall.”