Tuscaloosa, Ala.--A manager on Piedmont’s 2009 state championship team, junior Taylor Hayes spent the last two seasons racking up tackles for the Bulldogs as an all-state linebacker but on Thursday he finished off a huge year at quarterback by earning MVP honors in a 44-7 win over Bayside Academy.
Also a talented baseball player with interest from Auburn and several others, Hayes ran for 63 yards and a pair of scores while throwing for 126 yards and another touchdown as Piedmont ran away with the 3A crown at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
“Taylor has always had the ability to be a game-changer at quarterback,” Piedmont Coach Steve Smith said. “In the past we’ve needed him more on the defensive side. He was an all-state linebacker as a freshman and sophomore, first-team. When we talked I told him he wouldn’t be playing as much defense as he has and it might cost him some personal accolades.
“His immediate reaction was ‘coach I don’t care, I just want another ring’. He said ‘I’ll do what I’ve got to do for the team’. I think he’s the best quarterback in the State of Alabama in any class, but I’m partial. In my opinion he’s very deserving of everything he gets in 3A and I thought he played well today and helped lead his team.”
The first half was all Piedmont as the Bulldogs raced out to a commanding 23-7 advantage behind the play of Hayes. Rushing for all of his 63 yards and both scores in the first 24 minutes, including a 48-yarder late in the second quarter, Hayes set the tone for the blowout win. Also a threat to make plays through the air the left-hander added 97 yards on 5-9 passing with Baylee Blanchard on the receiving end of a 45-yard score.
Outmatched in every way the only bright spot for Bayside came in the first quarter as the Admirals struck for the big play to tie the game at seven. Starting on their own 20 the Admirals moved out their own 42 before quarterback Connor Sirmon hit a streaking Will Cox for a 58-yard touchdown. At the time it gave Bayside Academy some life, but that would be the only and last hurrah as Piedmont cruised to the title.
Coming out of the break already firmly in control it took Piedmont just three plays to break the game open for good. Following a Bayside Academy three-and-out the Bulldogs got the ball back on their own 46 and Hayes quickly hit Blanchard for 29 yards to move the ball to the Bayside 25. On the next play Darnell Jackson broke from the pack and scampered 25 yards for the touchdown. A two-point pass from Hayes to Blanchard made it 31-7 Piedmont, but they were just getting started.
Following a fumble on the second Bayside Academy play on its next drive it took the Bulldogs just one play to push the lead out even more as Jackson scored from the 20 for his second touchdown in 58 seconds to give Piedmont a 30-point cushion. With the second-teamers in on the next drive Piedmont didn’t slow down as Cardavion Myers dripped off a 46-yard touchdown run to make the final 44-7.