Sipsey Valley Bears Blitz Holt Ironmen to Claim Third Straight Win
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The Sipsey Valley Bears (4-3, 3-2) made school history tonight by taking down the Holt Ironmen (0-7, 0-5). The Bears 37-6 win gave them their third win in a row in 2022, a feat that had only happened three times since the school opened (2012, 2014, 2018).
The Bears won three games total in 2021 and now with three games remaining they can not only match the school's longest winning streak, four games in 2012, but they can also return to the playoffs for the first time since 2018 with a strong close to the year.
Sipsey Valley showed its superiority over Holt by jumping on them early and often in the first half of the game and then gave its junior varsity a chance for playing time in the second half.
"What we did this week, we kind of just prepared to compete against ourselves. I know in Tuscaloosa you hear that a lot with coach Saban. But we really wasn't playing against Holt tonight, we were playing against ourselves. For the most part our starters, our varsity kids did a really good job. We're going to go Monday and really work on our JV because if they're going to get in games and if they're going to perform in the future, they've got to do better than they did when they were called upon tonight," said Sipsey Valley head coach Joey Milligan.
The Bears opened up the scoring with a safety from its defense. The Ironmen were backed up deep in its own territory after its own defense was able to stop Sipsey Valley on 4th & goal from the 3-yard line.
On the subsequent possession for Sipsey Valley they marched 51-yards in just three plays and found the endzone on a 31-yard pass from LJ Cormier to Wyatt Bailey for the first touchdown of the evening.
"He's sharp, just as usual. His throws. He throws the deep ball pretty well but tonight he threw some underneath stuff pretty well, that's kind of what we were looking for. We wanted to throw some underneath stuff. His favorite target, Wyatt, he's a really good receiver and we kind of spread the ball out a little bit tonight and we're going to have to do this in the future to win," said Milligan.
This marked the beginning of the onslaught as Sipsey Valley went on finish off five-straight drives with touchdowns after being stopped on its first two possessions.
On the very next offensive snap, trailing 9-0, the Holt Ironmen fumbled the handoff exchange and turned the ball over. Fraquan Hutton fell on the ball for the Bears and set up the home team on the 17-yard line with short field.
Two-plays later sophomore Ayden Abernathy got into the endzone on a 10-yard scamper. Abernathy was a key component to the Sipsey Valley offense, he toted the rock 9 times for 114 yards and the touchdown. He really saw the promise-land three times on the evening but had two scores called back by penalties.
Holt took its next drive deep into Sipsey Valley territory and appeared to be battling back into the game, however, junior Kaden Abrams threw an interception to Bailey, playing corner, who returned it to the 9-yard line for the Bears fifth possession.
The subsequent play saw Abernathy's second touchdown wiped off the board as a holding call erased his 91-yard run. The home side didn't have to wait too much longer to cheer as Cormier was able to find senior Cameron Hinton two plays later for an 89-yard touchdown strike down the sidelines.
A second Abrams interception gave the ball back to Sipsey Valley at midfield and Cormier, again, wasted no time putting up another score. He found his favorite target, Bailey for a 35-yard touchdown.
Bailey ended his evening with two receptions for 66 yards and two scores, he also took two carries out of the backfield for 27 yards and played defensively for Sipsey Valley.
"He's (Cormier) got a really got a really good arm, he can throw it deep and I can go run under it every time, so it's just how it is," said Bailey on his connection with the sophomore.
Cormier's final piece of magic came after the Bears held the Ironmen to another three-and-out and forced a punt. Starting at the Holt 39-yard line with three minutes remaining in the half the sophomore orchestrated another quick drive to put the game to bed. On the seventh play of the drive Cormier scrambled into the endzone from 6-yards away, leaving a defender in his wake after a juke.
Cormier finished 6-of-11 passing for 192 yards with three passing touchdowns while taking two scrambles for 15 yards and a touchdown. He and the other Sipsey Valley starters didn't see the field in the second half.
"I was very young towards the beginning of the year, I'm beginning to progress and I'm just feel a lot more comfortable and we're getting a lot better as a team so we're picking it up," said Cormier.
The coaches agreed to play two, 10-minute quarters in the second half, due to the Ironmen being overmatched due to injuries and off the field circumstances.
"We had a rough week. A lot of guys injured, sick. A lot of bad just stuff from last week. I'm proud of the guys who fought and hung in there. It was hard because we had a lot of guys in new positions, but I want to congratulate the other guys, too. Coach Milligan's first year, they're in the playoffs. I'm happy for them. I'm happy for a lot of these kids, I taught some of them when they were freshman. We're just going to keep working though," said Holt coach Dustin Hyche.
Holt never gave up and on its final possession of the game Abrams found freshman Amani Knox for a 24-yard touchdown to avoid being shut out.
Abrams, making his first start at quarterback due to injuries, faced an uphill battle but earned the respect of his coach.
"It's his first start, first game action all year. He didn't have a lot of practice and reps and I'm proud of how he played considering how little he had. He did a good job," said Hyche.
Sipsey Valley hits the road for a massive game next week. The Bears, currently sitting in fourth in the region take on American Christian Academy, who clinched their fifth-straight region championship on Friday night. Sipsey Valley needs to stay in fourth or better to clinch a birth in the playoffs.
Holt returns home next week as they host the Montevallo Bulldogs.