West Limestone's loss to Gordo in the Class 4A playoff quarterfinals Thursday night brought yet another season of high school football to a close in Limestone County.
It was a season many people thought would not happen and none of us will ever forget. The COVID-19 pandemic put the season in doubt, but our local players and coaches not only were able to play, but put on good performances for the fans.
Two of our local teams had to cancel their opening-week games due to COVID issues, but after that, no other games had to be canceled due to Athens or Limestone schools dealing with coronavirus issues. That is testament to the players being disciplined and the coaches for instilling that discipline to make sure they looked after themselves and didn't cause a COVID-19 outbreak among the team.
With another season in the books, it's time to look back on some of the great moments and performances from the 2020 season.
Game of the year: Muscle Shoals 31, Athens 29
Yes, this was a game Athens lost, but for back-and-forth drama, it's hard to top this thriller, which took place Sept. 18.
The contest featured everything you would want in a football game — multiple lead changes, numerous big plays and a final drive that ended in a last-second field goal. Unfortunately, it was Muscle Shoals making the final kick, but that doesn't minimize some great performances from Athens. The Golden Eagles had an 81-yard touchdown pass and an 80-yard touchdown run in the game. Running back Jaylen Gilbert had 236 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Athens took a 29-28 lead late in the third quarter but couldn't hang on, as Muscle Shoals converted two fourth-down plays on its final drive and Trey Stoddard kicked a 36-yard field goal as time expired to give the Trojans the win.
Fortunately, the loss didn't hurt Athens in the region standings, as the Golden Eagles won the rest of their region games and took the championship after Muscle Shoals suffered losses to Hartselle and Cullman.
Performance of the year: Rowe Allen
Elkmont quarterback Rowe Allen put on perhaps the best passing performance in school history Oct. 30 when leading the Red Devils to a 45-36 win over Hanceville in the season finale.
The junior threw for 339 yards and seven touchdown passes as Elkmont came back from a 30-6 second-quarter deficit to outscore Hanceville 39-6 over the final 26 minutes of the game. Five of his touchdown passes came in the second half, including a 30-yard scoring strike in the fourth quarter that gave the Red Devils a lead they would not relinquish.
The seven touchdown passes is thought to be a school record, and it allowed Elkmont to finish the season with a victory.
Milestone moment: Pugh is East's winningest coach
East Limestone's 31-17 victory Sept. 25 over West Limestone wasn't just for bragging rights over a cross-county rival. It also made some history.
Indians coach Jeff Pugh became the school's winningest coach and was presented with the game ball after the contest. Pugh, who has coached at East Limestone since 2006, has a 90-73 record as Indians coach. He passed Phil Cavnar in the career wins line. Cavnar had an 87-80 coaching record at East Limestone from 1990-2004.
There are plenty of other moments that I just don't have room to talk about in this column. Tanner made the playoffs after winning five games the past three seasons combined, while West Limestone advanced further in the playoffs than any other team in school history except for one. It was a great year, and the players and coaches should be commended for fighting through a global pandemic to put on great performances for the fans.
— Edwards can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.