Young 'Cats come back to win Super Bowl

Fort Payne’s A-Team in the North Alabama Youth Football League overcame a fourth-quarter deficit Saturday to win their Super Bowl against Guntersville 20-12 at Albertville’s McCord Field.

“I’ve coached 90 percent of these kids over the last five years,” Fort Payne head coach Brad Kilgore said. “I’m so proud of the effort that all of these kids showed, and I was just happy to be a part of it.”

Fort Payne started the game with the football, but had their opening drive stall near midfield.

A few plays into Guntersville’s first drive, their quarterback dropped back to pass and felt pressure coming from Fort Payne’s Holden Smith, Luke Stephens and Caden Kilgore.

The pass rush forced a wobbly pass that was intercepted by Caden Dubose.

Dubose returned the interception down the right sideline for nearly 40 yards until he was stopped at the Guntersville 23-yard line.

The young Wildcats capitalized on the great field position three plays later when Dubose punched in an 11-yard touchdown run up the middle. Fort Payne converted their extra point and took a 7-0 lead early in the contest.

Guntersville’s next drive moved into Fort Payne territory as the opening quarter came to a close.

Trying to convert on fourth-and-6 at Fort Payne 36-yard line, Guntersville tried a screen pass. The receiver caught the pass, but was quickly brought down behind the line of scrimmage by of a hoard of Fort Payne defenders clad in black and gold to force a turnover on downs.

After going three-and-out on offense, Fort Payne punted the ball away but couldn’t bring down the Guntersville returner as he took it all the way back for a 50-plus yard score.

Fort Payne stopped Guntersville point-after attempt though and held onto a 7-6 lead at the time.

Fort Payne started their next drive at their own 38 and nearly scored right away.

Their first play of the drive was designed to start with a pitch to the left, but the ball hit the ground for a fumble. Dubose then scooped the loose ball and found room to run down the right sideline. He then cut to the opposite side near midfield and sprinted to the goal line for what would have been a 62-yard touchdown, but the play was negated by a Fort Payne penalty.

After getting backed up, Fort Payne was forced to punt again.

Taking over near midfield with little time remaining in the half, Guntersville struck quickly with their biggest play of the game on a 48-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline.

Fort Payne again stopped the PAT, but went into halftime trailing 12-7.

Both teams went scoreless in the third, leaving the young Wildcats with eight minutes to overcome a 5-point deficit.

“I was extremely proud to see them keep fighting,” coach Kilgore said. “They never quit and just fought hard for that entire ball game.”

Fort Payne quickly erased Guntersville’s lead with 6:44 left in regulation when Dubose scored on another 11-yard scamper to the end zone. Their PAT was no good, but the play allowed Fort Payne to take a 13-12 lead.

Guntersville then took the ball just 45 yards away from the end zone after a short kickoff.

Quickly facing third-and-long, Guntersville tried another deep throw downfield, but the pass was just beyond the reach of an open receiver.

Guntersville tried a reverse on fourth down, but Fort Payne’s defense stuffed the play in the backfield for a 10-yard loss and a turnover on downs.

Fort Payne then milked the clock as much as possible before Dubose broke loose again for this third touchdown of the game on a 38-yard run. A successful PAT made the score 20-12.

Guntersville started their final drive of the game from their own 15 after Fort Payne’s best kickoff of the night.

Guntersville was able to move to Fort Payne’s 30-yard line, but the defense came up with a sack on the final play of the game to seal a Super Bowl victory.

The win capped off Fort Payne’s overall record at 10-1 for the year.

They outscored their opponents 231-38 through eight regular season game and pitched five shutout wins over teams from Douglas, Boaz, Grant, Westbrook and Asbury.

Their one loss came midway through the regular season in a 20-14 defeat to the Gadsden City Titans.

Fort Payne avenged the loss though with a 19-6 win in a rematch with the Titans in last week’s conference championship, which earned Fort Payne its spot in Saturday’s Super Bowl.

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