Since they did not have the typical large water bucket at their disposal because of COVID-19 precautions, North Sand Mountain football players got resourceful in an effort to celebrate their coach’s milestone in a traditional manner. 

Several players doused head coach Keith Kirby with water from individuals bottles moments after Kirby became the program’s all-time winningest coach in No. 10-ranked NSM’s 44-13 Class 2A Region 7 victory over Whitesburg Christian Thursday night at Lloyd Dobbins Field in Higdon.

Kirby, a 2000 NSM graduate, improved to 38-16 in five seasons as the head coach at his alma mater. He passed Shawn Peek, the school’s head coach from 1991-98, on the NSM coaching wins list.

“It means a lot,” Kirby said of the milestone. “We’ve put a lot of work into it. It says a lot about my coaching staff and they work they do, how they prepare. I’d put them up against anybody’s (staff). The kids, they buy in to what we want to do, do everything we ask of them and commit to working hard.”

The Bison made sure early on Thursday night that Kirby would get the milestone.

NSM (7-1, 5-0) got to touchdown runs of 9 and 2 yards and the first two of Ashton Higdon’s six PATs to take a 14-0 lead after one quarter. The Bison the reached the end zone four times in the second quarter on the way to building a 42-6 halftime lead. Jacob Kirby’s 54-yard gain on a screen pass led to Hank Farmer’s 1-yard touchdown before Derek Bearden had a hand in the next three Bison scores with touchdown runs of 26 and 8 yards and a 16-yard touchdown pass to Blaine McBryar.

Bearden, who started at quarterback for the injured Lake Bell, was 4-of-8 passing for 113 yards while also rushing for 43 yards on five carries. Luna finished with 161 rushing  yards and on 14 carries.

NSM’s starters sat out the second half, which was played with a running clock. The Bison’s lone points came on the final play of the third quarter when Blake Blevins sacked Whitesburg Christian quarterback Jordan Harper in the end zone for a safety.

Whitesburg Christian (2-6, 0-5) scored on Seth Stewart’s 84-yard kickoff return late in first half and Ryan Turner’s 9-yard touchdown run on the game’s final play.

Next up for the Bison is a matchup with No. 7 Falkville (8-0, 5-0) next week at home for the Class 2A Region 7 title.

“Excited about the opportunity to play for a region championship,” Keith Kirby said. “It’s a big time opportunity for us.”

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