By Al Muskewitz, East Alabama Sports Today
RAINBOW CITY — Whenever Sloan Smith hears “Field goal, get ready” on the Piedmont sideline he uses it as a call to arms.
Well, as a kicker, maybe not quite to arms, but you get the idea and both he and the Bulldogs expect him to deliver.
Smith did Thursday night, kicking two field goals in the second quarter — one of the first play and one on the last — to help the third-ranked Bulldogs get back on the winning track with a 34-0 victory over Westbrook Christian.
The coach’s son kicked a 30-yarder on the first play of the second quarter and a 29-yarder on the last play of the half. It’s the second time this year he has kicked two field goals in a game.
“I have the most confidence in myself and I think dad’s (Bulldogs coach Steve Smith) got the second most confidence in me when I go out there,” the kicker said. “At the end of the day that’s all that really matters.
“All that’s going through my head is do my job to help my team, whether that’s putting three points on the board or kicking a PAT. As soon as they say ‘field goal ready,’ I get a little stretched out and I’m ready to roll.”
In between the three-pointers, Jack Hayes threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Ishmael Bethel. Hayes also threw a 2-yarder to Thomas Propst on fourth down in the third quarter, extending his state career records for TD passes and TD accountability.
Cody Holloway, who does most of his damage in the Bulldogs’ secondary, gave the offense some depth at the skill positions. He had touchdown runs of 3 and 43 yards – their first and last touchdowns of the game – and rushed for 73 yards on five carries in the game.
“Injuries have kind of depleted our depth in the offensive skill positions, so we’ve got some people playing probably a little bit out of position, but we’ve been tweaking it and trying to make it work with what we have,” Steve Smith said. “He gave us a little shot of energy tonight at the running back position. He’s got that talent to be able to help us there. We’re just trying to pick and choose our spots.”
“I know Coach Smith doesn’t like to play people both ways, but I usually give everything I’ve got whenever I get in there,” Holloway said. “I just followed my blockers and made the plays that needed to be made.”
The younger Smith wasn’t the only special teams star in the game. Max Hanson returned the first two punts of the game a total of 96 yards. The Bulldogs (4-2, 4-0 Class 3A Region 6) couldn’t convert the first one, coming up just short on fourth down from the 23, but they got Smith’s first field goal from the second.
“That would have been a lot of momentum for them if they would’ve stopped us again without any points,” Steve Smith said. “That first field goal was big to help us capitalize on that great field position by the punt return team. I’m very proud of him coming through and knocking those balls through.”
The Bulldogs’ defense was equally impressive. They held the Warriors to just 26 yards rushing (on 27 carries) and had three interceptions.
Piedmont travels to Glencoe next Friday. Westbrook Christian (4-2, 2-2) is at Geraldine.