Trick or Treat?

The Haleyville Lions (7-3, 4-2, 4A Region 5) played host to long standing rival, Winston County High School. (8-2, 6-1 2A Region 7) The Lions were tricked in the first half, but they ended up with the treat at the end of a hard fought rivalry game that featured a little of everything.

The trick was a Justin South touchdown pass to Tyler Marks from 53 yards out for the Jackets first touchdown of the evening, but the Lions came roaring back in the second half to earn the victory 29-25.

Winston County started the scoring with a Jordan Courington field goal after Josh Johnson bolted 53 yards to the Lions six yard line. The 3-0 lead would hold up until Carlton Whiteside hauled in a pass and raced 38 yards to the Winston County tow-yard line.

Destin Dye carried it in from five yards away after the Jackets stone-walled the Lions ball carrier on first and second down. Dye also added a two-point conversion to give the Lions an 8-3 advantage with 5:12 remaining in the half.

The Yellow Jackets would capitalize on one-of-two Lions turn overs in the first half to take the lead. Justin South hit Tyler Marks for a 53-yard touchdown. Josh Johnson carried it in from two yards out to give Winston County a 16-8 lead, and Jaice Hampton added the two-point conversion to make it 18-8.

Johnson rushed for 147 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries, while Tyler Marks hauled in four receptions for 105 yards and one touchdown. Marks had five tackles from his outside linebacker position, and one tackle for a four-yard loss.

The Jackets were trying to put the dagger in the Lions just before halftime after Tony Burgess scooped up a bad exchange between the Lions quarterback, and the running back. Burgess returned the fumble 10 yards to set up the Yellow Jackets inside the Lions 30-yard line.

Justin South found Josh Kelley in the endzone for a 20-yard touchdown strike, but the play was nullified by a holding penalty. The Jackets left 10 points on the field in the first half after a missed field goal, and a holding call that erased a touchdown. Mistakes, and turn overs would be the Jackets undoing.

However, the misfortunes of the Yellow Jackets were the Lions big treat in the second half. The Lions stopped the Jackets cold in the third quarter, and added touchdowns of their own from Whiteside and Jeremy White.

Whiteside grabbed a 19-yard strike for a touchdown, while White added a score from 25 yards out.

Jeremy White is the fastest player I've seen in a while. He explodes through the hole and runs like he's a 200-pound running back. He stands 5-8 and weighs in at 165. He reminds me of Deshler's Dominique King from a year ago, but he is faster than King.

White had two big runs to pick up first downs when Haleyville was trying to preserve a 29-25 victory. The first run was 18 yards after Haleyville picked up a holding call on second down. It set up a third and two, and White ripped off 12 more yards to pick up a critical first down for the Lions. He finished the game with 127 yards on 18 attempts. He also had kick-off returns for 25 and 26 yards.

The turning point of the game was two untimely turn overs by the Yellow Jackets. South threw an out pattern that was intercepted by Lions linebacker, Jacob Kennedy, and Kennedy raced into the endzone for a touchdown.

The second came on a muffed punt just one series later. The Lions capitalized by scoring another touchdown to take control of the game.

Winston County fought back and Josh Johnson added his second touchdown of the evening with 4:15 left to play in the game. The Jackets attempted an onside kick that was recovered by the Lions. The Lions never gave the ball up as they ran for a couple of first downs, and picked up the final one by way of a penalty.

As I mentioned in opening, this game had a little bit of everything. Turnovers hurt both teams, and mistakes were made on both sides of the ball. The officials were booed by both teams' fans for some controversial calls that went both ways. But, in the end it was a hard fought football game the players decided on the field. It was all you could ask for from a county rivalry game.

Players who stood out.

Senior Jeremy White is an explosive player who has gotten very little exposure. He is fast, runs hard, and has good vision. He explodes into the line-of-scrimmage without an ounce of fear.

Junior Josh Johnson continues to impress with his hard-nosed physical style of play. He has decent speed for a 5-10, 210-pound running back, and he never gives up on a play. In short, he is a football player.

Sophomore Tyler Marks had his biggest game of the season on offense, and his usual solid performance from his outside linebacker position. Marks is another football player who plays physical and with reckless abandon.

Junior Jaice Hampton has deceiving make up speed when the ball is in the air. He is left alone on every single play of the game. He has the tools to play at the next level, but needs to work hard to improve in some areas. Hampton is a long strider who probably projects as a safety at 6-1, 185-pounds.

Freshman Jachin Haltiwanger is a 6-2, 220-pound sophomore defensive end for the Lions. He has good feet, quickness, and a frame that will allow him to grow much larger over the next two years. He is one to watch in the future.

Senior Destin Dye had a good game for the Lions, as did Carlton Whiteside. Both young men played very well in the win.

Winston County's junior left offensive tackle has fought injuries all season, and last summer due to an auto accident. Dillion Lowman is 6-5, 298-pounds, and is one to watch next year. He has a lot of work to do to get back where he was coming out of spring football, but he has more than a year to do it. He will need to work hard this off season.

Winston County will limp into the playoffs after two straight losses to end their season, while the Lions are coming off a positive game heading into the first round of the 4A playoffs.

As of print time neither team is sure of their opponent next week. Winston County doesn't know if they're the third seed or the first as they are in a three-way log-jam with Lamar County and Sulligent. We will figure all that out next week.

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