VALLEY HEAD – The Valley Head Tigers did not disappoint a packed homecoming crowd at Tiger Stadium Friday night and sent their fans home happy after a 52-16 beating of the Gaylesville Trojans in 1A, Region 7 action.
After going 1-9 last season, Friday’s win moved the Tigers to 3-1 for the year and 2-1 in regional play, solidifying their best start since 2013.
“I think it’s just the kids believing in themselves,” Tigers’ head coach Heath Vincent said of his team’s fast turnaround. “We’ve preached the weight room, we’ve preached conditioning and we’ve preached that if they take that hard work to the field, that it will pay off. That’s what we’re seeing. We’re seeing everything come together.”
It didn’t take Valley Head long at all to jump out in front for good in Friday’s contest.
The Tigers’ very first play from scrimmage saw senior Marlonn Trinidad race down the right sideline while breaking multiple tackles on his way to a 72-yard touchdown run.
Noah Hulgan followed with his first of three good PATs to make the score 7-0 just 17 seconds into the game.
The Tiger defense then forced the Trojans into their first of four consecutive three-and-outs to start the game.
After the Trojans’ first punt back to the Tigers, Trinidad picked up 19 yards on two carries before Jordan Burt called his own number and went 50 yards untouched to the end zone to make the lead 13-0 with 9:30 left in the first quarter.
Valley Head’s next drive saw Bryson Morgan pick up 10 yards on the first two plays before the Tigers pulled off a double-reverse that gave senior Waylon Collins room to run down the left sideline for a 53-yard score, which made the lead 19-0 before the midway point of the first quarter.
Gaylesville’s next drive saw them move backwards before punting, but the Trojan punt was blocked by Valley Head junior Tony Headrick. Gabriel Boozer then scooped the ball up and crossed the goal line to make the score 26-0 with 4:24 to go in the first.
Valley Head then capped off that explosive first quarter with one more score when Morgan broke through the Trojan defense for a 60-yard touchdown run to make the lead 33-0.
Gaylesville then finally moved the chains for the first time all night when they drew a facemask penalty, but three plays later, a deep pass over the middle was picked off by Tigers’ senior Ian Blair and returned 20 yards the other way.
Two plays after the interception, freshman Eian Bain called his own number and spun away from multiple defenders on his way to a 35-yard touchdown run. Hulgan’s good PAT made it 40-0 with 9:39 left in the half.
Gaylesville picked up another first down on their following drive. That possession ended at midfield though when a fourth-and-6 pass was dropped near the line to gain and turned the ball over on downs.
Four plays later, Collins broke free down the left sideline for a 30-yard pickup that set up first-and-goal for Valley Head. Bain then punched it in from two yards to make the score 46-0.
Gaylesville then finally ended the Tigers’ shutout bid when Derrick Lee cut through the middle for a 62-yard touchdown run on Gaylesville’s next play to make the score 46-8 at halftime.
At the break, Valley Head had outgained the Trojans 387-75, with 62 of Gaylesville’s yards coming on one play. That first half saw six Tigers gain at least 35 yards on the ground while the defense surrendered just two plays that went for over 10 yards.
“Our message to them all week has been how they are going to respond after the failure we had at Decatur-Heritage and the success we had here last week against Falkville. I was so proud of them getting out here and taking care of business,” Vincent said. “I’m proud of the way that our young guys were able to get in the game and fight tonight.”
The second half went quickly as the teams played 8-minute quarters and had a running clock.
The Trojans started the half with an 11-play, 65-yard drive that ended with a 6-yard score by Lee. They went for two and converted to make the score 46-16 at the start of the fourth.
The Tigers’ last drive of the game started with a 10-yard pickup by Thomas Brewster and ended a play later when Bain sprinted down the left sideline for his third touchdown of the night. This one covered 53 yards.
The Tigers ran for 450 yards and didn’t throw the ball once all night. Bain finished as Valley Head’s leading rusher with 103 yards and three scores on just eight carries.
Trinidad finished with 97 yards and a score on four carries, Collins had 83 yards and a touchdown on two handoffs and Morgan added 72 yards and scored on four carries.
Burt’s lone run of the night was his 50-yard score in the first quarter and Brewster finished with 45 yards on five carries.
The Tigers will hit the road to face another one of their top rivals next week in the Ider Hornets in non-region action. Gaylesville will travel to face Cedar Bluff.