Hegan and Draine lead Toros to Region Championship


It was the final week of the 2018 high school football season and there wasn’t a game any bigger than the one in Saraland between the #2 ranked Spanish Fort Toros and the #3 ranked Saraland Spartans. Both teams sit tied on top of Region 1 from 6A, both teams already secured a home playoff game for the 1st round, but both still wanted to take home the region championship.

Saraland would get the ball to start the game off, starting from their own 15-yard line, it didn’t take them long to get down field. Junior running back Rayshawn McAlpine lead the drive with a 38-yard run to get down to the Toros 30-yard line. Senior running back Karie White would cap the 85-yarddrive when he got into the end zone from 8 yards out. The PAT was good and the Spartans took the early 7-0 lead with just over 10 minutes left in the 1st quarter.

On the ensuing kickoff, Toros returner Xavier Love would fumble the ball and Saraland’s Doug Sullivan recovered the ball on the Toros 25-yard line. The Toros defense looked to keep the Spartans out of the end zone and extending their early lead. Saraland couldn’t move the ball and brought in kicker Cole Robitzsch to attempt a 37-yard field goal. The kick was no good and the Toros got the ball back to start their first offensive series of the game.

Late in the 1st quarter, the Toros would get the ball still down 7-0, and they turned to their running game to get things going. Senior running back Conner Hegan seeing action after returning from a knee injury took off for an 18-yard run to get to midfield. Later in the drive, junior Kris Abrams-Drain was in at quarterback and took off on a keeper for 14 yards and got another 15 for a personal foul on Saraland for a late hit. Hegan would cap their drive with an 11-yard touchdown run. The PAT was good and the game was tied at 7-7 with just under two minutes left in the 1st quarter.

Saraland would take the kickoff and start at their own 23-yard line. Sophomore Jerone York had an impressive reception and the rest was McAlpine getting the Spartans into Spanish Fort territory. The Toros defense would eventually stop the Spartans from getting into the end zone forcing Robitzsch to attempt a 23-yard field goal. This time the kick was good and the Spartans regained the lead 10-7 with just over nine minutes left in the 1st half.

Saraland would take that lead into halftime, but the Toros would get the ball first to start the 2nd half.

Almost halfway through the 3rd quarter the Toros would get a short field after pinning the Spartan offense deep in their own territory. They would start their possession on the Saraland 35-yard line. It only took five plays to get points on the board when senior running back Mike Franklin got into the end zone from only 1 yard out. The PAT was good and Spanish Fort had their first lead of the night 14-10 with just over six minutes left in the 3rd quarter.

That lead would get extended quickly when on the second play of the ensuing Spartan possession, McAlpine would fumble the ball and senior defensive back D.J. James recovered the ball and ran into the end zone for a touchdown. The PAT was good and now the Toros had a 21-10 lead.

In the 4th quarter, both teams would trade turnovers, first the Spartans would turn the ball over when junior Cordale Flott would fumble after a catch, but the Toros would not be able to convert the turnover into any points. Later the Toros were set up to punt when the Spartans got in and could block the punt. Saraland then drove 69 yards following the block, and found the end zone when White got his second touchdown of the night, this one from 3 yards out. Head coach Jeff Kelly opted to go for the 2-point conversion but the conversion was no good, but the lead had been cut 21-16 with just over two minutes left in the game.

The Toros would get the ball and were only looking to run the clock down, while the Spartans were looking for a stop to try and get the ball back. Drain was back in at quarterback and ran keeper for 46 yards to get into the end zone and once again extended the Toros lead. The PAT was good and the score was not 28-16.

Spanish Fort would take the 28-16 victory and region championship.

Saraland suffered their first loss of the season and finish 9-1 overall and 7-1 in the region. They the #2 seed from the region which they will still host in the 1st round as they set to prepare for Stanhope Elmore.

The Toros improve to 9-1 on the season and 8-0 in the region, they won nine straight after losing their opening game to McGill. They will be the #1 seed for the region and will prepare to host #4 seed Benjamin Russell.

Friday Night Rivals will return for the 2019 season.