As the football flew through the air toward a Weaver receiver in the back corner of the end zone, Pisgah defensive back Nate Cornelison undercut the play and made a game-winning interception.
The game was tied 13-all with less than a minute remaining, but by rules in the Albertville 7-on-7, defenses could score points with interceptions, giving Pisgah a 16-13 win.
“That’s the kind of situation you want these kids to be in in these (7-on-7 games), where they have to step up and make a play,” said Pisgah head coach Luke Pruitt. “Nate Cornelison stepped up and made a play.”
Cornelison’s interception sent Pisgah to the semifinals of the tournament, where they eventually lost 41-0 to Class 6A Pell City, which defeated Guntersville 29-8 to win the title.
The semifinal loss did not dampen Pruitt’s feelings on Pisgah’s day.
“Excited about the way the kids competed. We didn’t really compete in every game in pool play, and that’s what I got on them about at lunch,” Pruitt said. “I felt like we competed (in tournament play). Even the last game, I didn’t like some of the body language, but we still competed. Overall it was good day. We played a lot better this year here than we did last year.”
Pisgah edged rival North Sand Mountain on the final play — the Bison just missed completing a touchdown pass as time expired — while also defeating Weaver 23-16 while falling to Asbury 22-18 and West End 23-16. Pisgah and NSM originally weren’t scheduled to play, but the schedule was altered after Anniston dropped out. Pisgah then downed fellow Jackson County school North Jackson 15-7 in the opening round of tournament play before edging Weaver for a second time in the quarterfinals. Tyler Bell and Jared Wilks caught touchdown passes from Quarterback Parker Law during the Weaver win.
Meanwhile, NSM finished 2-3 in the event. The Bison defeated Asbury 29-6 and West End 26-14 but fell to Weaver 22-14 and Pisgah in Pool B play before falling 20-18 to Guntersville in tournament play. Lake Bell caught two touchdown passes from Landon Green against Guntersville while Derek Bearden and Cade McBryar caught PATs.
NSM head coach Keith Kirby said the Bison’s performance was a mixed bag.
“We got some good work, saw some good competition and saw some stuff we’ve definitely got to work on going into fall camp,” Kirby said. “We’ve got to defend the pass and throw and catch better. We didn’t get the results we wanted, but we can still take away some positives. The biggest thing we need is consistency. We’d play good one play and not the next. (Lack of) consistency, it costs you.”
North Jackson finished 0-5, falling 19-11 to Mae Jemison, 29-5 to Albertville, 30-13 to Guntersville and 28-17 to Pell City in Pool A play before the loss to Pisgah in tournament play.
Chiefs head coach Chandler Tygard said North Jackson wasn’t pleased with its performance but isn’t sweating the scoreboard results in 7-on-7 either.
“I’m just glad we play football with linemen,” he said. “We took 15 guys, a lot of them didn’t play football last season. We knew there would be a learning curve. Our defense has been good, but offensively, we’ve not been what we should be. We’re just still making the same mistakes we’ve been making.”
Official preseason football practice for the 2019 season begins statewide Aug. 5.