AUBURN — Tied at halftime for the first time this season, No. 1 Tanner turned to its powerful running game and dominating defense to deflate fourth-ranked Washington 28-14 in the Super 6 Class 2A championship game on an unseasonably warm Friday afternoon at Auburn University’s Jordan-Hare Stadium.
This was the Tanner football program’s first state title after its record-setting 14-1 campaign last season came to a sudden stop with a 34-14 loss to Elba in the 2A finals.
“It’s been a long, long journey ever since we came back Aug. 26 (in the season opener),” Tanner junior center Shamaud Baker said. “We knew we had to come back and show what we could do, and it’s like feeling on top of the world. I can’t wait to get back to T-town and live it up with everyone.
“I’m also thankful for our seniors who all stepped up and led us to the state championship.”
The Rattlers (14-0) did not trail all season and produced five shutouts. They defeated Sand Rock, Walter Wellborn, Fultondale, Reeltown and Washington County by a margin of 180-28 in five playoff games this season.
Tanner outgained Washington County 307-215 in total yardage, including a 290-82 advantage on the ground. The Rattlers held a 17-11 edge in first downs and converted all three fourth-down attempts.
“Tanner did some things to make it difficult for us,” said Washington County coach Chris Wilson, who guided the Bulldogs to a 13-2 mark and their first Super 6 appearance. “They are a very deserving team, but it doesn’t take away from what we did this year.”
After swapping turnovers with the Bulldogs, Tanner led 7-0 in the first quarter on a 25-yard scoring run by the game’s most valuable player, Fred Rich.
The senior running back had 13 carries for 79 yards and two touchdowns, including seven carries for 35 yards during a key drive in the fourth quarter. He added six tackles, a pass breakup and an interception.