By Brandon Crumbley
For The News Courier
In its regular-season finale, No. 1 Tanner put on a clinic in posting its first shutout this season in Class 2A, Region 8.
The Rattlers (8-1, 7-0) scored 10 touchdowns and forced six turnovers en route to a 69-0 victory against winless Phil Campbell on a chilly and clear night at Rip Swanner Stadium.
Tanner, the defending state champion, has a bye in Week 10. The Rattlers will host Region 6 fourth-seed Woodland in the first round of the 2A playoffs on Nov. 8.
Under the direction of first-year coach Ryan Swinney — Phil Campbell’s third coach in three seasons — the young and overmatched Bobcats endured their fifth shutout this season and lost eight-grade starting quarterback Peyton Thomas to an injury in the opening quarter.
The Bobcats (0-9, 0-7) totaled four first downs and 58 yards of total offense. Tanner amassed 12 first downs and 410 yards, including 263 on the ground, despite pulling its starters early in the third quarter.
Eight of the Rattlers’ 10 scores came through their relentless ground attack, with offensive linemen Seth Smith, Payton Sales, Shamaud Baker, Austin Lewter and Baltazar “Tito” Rubio paving the way.
Hayden Stephens racked up four touchdowns in the first half, with scoring runs of 13, 18 and 38 yards. Stephens, who ran 10 times for 131 yards, also picked off a pass midway through the second quarter and returned it 58 yards for a score.
Sophomore Ty Mayberry, junior Tyrone Yarbrough and eighth-graders Jaquavious Cosby and Zacolby Shoulders each had touchdowns runs in the second half.
Junior quarterback JonJon Fletcher turned in a flawless performance, with touchdowns of 39 and 11 yards to Chris Townsend. Fletcher completed 6 of 6 passes for 147 yards, two TDs and no interceptions.
The Rattlers took advantage of four Phil Campbell fumbles and two intercepted passes by Stephens and Townsend. Baker, Shoulders, Jalen Houston and Jordan Sides each had fumble recoveries.
Townsend caught two passes for 51 yards and two TDs, while fellow senior wide receiver Blake Whitt snagged two passes for 60 yards and Allan Rios converted nine of 10 extra-point attempts.
Phil Campbell, which has only two seniors listed on its roster and hasn’t finished a season 0-10 since 2007, will finish its season at 1A Hackleburg (6-3) next Friday. Hackleburg dropped Tharptown, 48-22, in Week 9.
—Kim West contributed to this report.