It was either career victory number 150 or 151 depending on how you count them, but either way it was a milestone night for RCHS head coach Pat Prestridge as his team gutted its way through to a 40-34 victory over Woodland Friday night.
RCHS built a 34-7 halftime lead, and held a 40-20 advantage early in the fourth quarter thanks to Avion Willis's fourth touchdown pass of the night. But Woodland scored two unanswered touchdowns, including a 91-yard romp by Parker Woodham with 2:17 left in the game that cut the Tigers' lead to within one score.
Woodland attempted an onside kick but freshman Trent Waters jumped on the tumbling football allowing RCHS to secure possession and run out the clock.
Words of congratulations came pouring Prestridge's way after the game from fans, his assistant coaches and in a text from his wife Amy.
According to AHSFHS.org, the historical website for Alabama high school football, Prestridge entered Friday's game with 149 career victories as a head coach at RCHS and Oakman. But that total does not include a victory that Prestridge presided over as interim head coach after the suspension of Randy Sparks at RCHS near the end of the 2012 season. If that win counts, Prestridge's 151 would give him the most career victories of any coach in the county, one ahead of Handley's Larry Strain, who won his 150th last Thursday.
Either way it's a victory to be celebrated for one of the county's all time most successful and celebrated head coaches.
In the smaller picture of this season, it gives RCHS a 1-0 record and gives the young Tigers something to build on, especially after a breakout performance by Willis.
The loss came for Woodland despite an inspiring showing by senior running back Parker Woodham, and a never-say-die attitude for a shorthanded team that had RCHS sweating until the final two minutes.
The big numbers
RCHS quarterback Avion Willis – Willis went 9-for-14 for 203 yards and four touchdowns, had a 78-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter and also recovered a fumble in the first half as RCHS built its early 27-point lead.
RCHS receiver Zack Caldwell – Caldwell caught 6 passes for 127 yards and three touchdowns. Defensively he had a you-had-to-see-it-to-believe-it fumble recovery on which he essentially intercepted a handoff in the Woodland backfield. Then late in the game he took over the primary running back duties after Christian Jefferson went out with an injury and rushed 10 times for 38 yards, including the final six yards that gave RCHS the game-clinching first down in the game's waning minutes.
Woodland running back Parker Woodham – Woodham rarely left the field on offense, defense or special teams and somehow still managed to outrun everyone for a 91-yard touchdown on his final carry of the night. The final tally for Woodland's super senior – 20 carries, 238 yards and four touchdowns. Plus he was 4-of-5 on PAT kicks, handled all the kickoff duties and was a defensive presence all night at his linebacker spot.
RCHS running back Christian Jefferson – Before getting poked in the eye and leaving the game Jefferson led RCHS on the ground with six carries for 120 yards and a touchdown. His 68-yard score with 4:47 left in the first half gave RCHS its largest lead of the night at 34-7.
- Woodland's first touchdown came on an 8-yard pass from Jackson Lovvorn to Lukea Brown on a fourth-down play in the first quarter. It briefly gave Woodand a 7-6 lead before RCHS scored the game's next 28 points. Lovvorn finished 3-of-9 for 34 yards in the passing game.
- RCHS receiver SanDavion Hardnett caught two passes for 77 yards, which included a 68-yard touchdown.
- Woodland also got good production on the ground from Tate Bradford, who made the most of his opportunities with 66 yards on four carries.
- It was the eighth straight win for RCHS over Woodland dating back to 2014.
Clay Central 35, Benjamin Russell 26
Wadley 21, Ranburne 14
Look for full coverage of all of these games in next week's print edition of the Randolph Leader.