Allen County-Scottsville powers its way to rematch with Franklin-Simpson


SCOTTSVILLE — Allen County-Scottsville coach Brad Hood spent the last 10 or 15 minutes playing traffic cop with his jubilant players in the Patriots’ first-round KHSAA Class 4A playoff game with Russell County on Friday night.

The AC-S defense controlled the line of scrimmage and forced the Lakers to go east and west rather than north and south. Junior quarterback Payton Cope directed a Patriots offense that was equal parts efficient and explosive. And Allen County-Scottsville was ready to celebrate its 41-0 victory over the Lakers when things got a little out of whack on the sideline.

“No, I’m not going to let you play receiver,” Hood told one of his linemen when the running clock in the fourth quarter hit three or four minutes.

After the handshake line, after the Patriots had won their fifth game in six tries, Hood met with his team, inviting parents, the cheerleading squad and other AC-S fans to listen in. Now things are about to get serious.

Hood’s Patriots improved to 7-4 with the victory, and now they’ll square off with traditional rival Franklin-Simpson in second-round play of the Class 4A playoffs next week. Franklin-Simpson (5-6) turned back a late two-point conversion attempt and held on to slip past Warren East 27-26 on Friday night in Franklin.

Hood’s AC-S squad will tangle with a bigger Franklin-Simpson squad, and one considerably better than the Russell County outfit the Patriots dispatched with little trouble.

And his players know they’ll need to hit another gear to advance to the regional round.

“We’ll take it one step at a time,” junior AC-S quarterback Payton Cope said when it was over. “I feel like we’ll have to pick it up again in practice. I believe our will, and our heart, will pull us through. They’ve got size. They’ve been playing very well.”

Hood’s Patriots knocked off Franklin-Simpson 33-21 on September 24, and they’ve dominated their last three games, two victories over Russell County, which finishes the season with a 2-9 record, and one over Class 6A squad Barren County. Allen County-Scottsville recorded its first shutout of the season on Friday night, and the Patriots’ defense was led by senior linebacker Will Moore, who was absolutely everywhere in running down Lakers backs and receivers.

“Will Moore’s good. He’s really good,” Hood said with a wicked grin. “He’s so smart, out on the field. He broke the school’s single-season tackles record last week. Will really gives us a lift.”

Moore lifted some opposing linemen off the field, too, while junior defensive end Tucker Scott highlighted a pass rush that kept the heat on Russell County quarterback Gavin Gossage.

“We came out and planned to attack, defensively,” Moore said. “We had a little bit of a slow start, but our defense played with a lot of energy. A lot of effort.”

That’s music to Brad Hood’s ears, and something with which Franklin-Simpson coach Max Chaney has become familiar with over the years.

Chaney’s Wildcats have won four of their last five games, and they have an experienced leader in four-year starter Luke Richardson at quarterback.

“I didn’t have a clue Franklin-Simpson had won until they told me after the game,” Hood said. “I just wanted to make sure we’d be playing another game at home. I figured they’d have a barnburner down there … We’ve just got to get back to work in practice.”

The Patriots offense was on the move in the early going but had to settle for two field goals, of 28 and 26 yards, from senior placekicker Thorny Walker to grab a 6-0 lead. Then, on a fourth-and-10 play midway through the second half, AC-S quarterback Payton Cope found senior wide receiver Jax Cooper in the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown pass. Julyan McPeak added a two-point conversion on a running play up the middle, and Allen County-Scottsville led 14-0 with its collective eye on a lot more scoring.

The Patriots got it.

Will Moore came up with a fumble recovery and AC-S teammate Jax Cooper added an interception before the first half came to a close, and junior running back/receiver Jace Jackson scored on an 8-yard touchdown run that pushed the Patriots’ lead to 20-0 at halftime.

In truth, though, Friday night’s offensive showing was a command performance from 160-pound AC-S sophomore Levi Cooper.

Cope scrambled for a 26-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter, and Jackson added a 3-yard scoring run to make it 34-0 before the end of the period.

In the opening moments of the fourth quarter, Cooper got in on the fun with a 5-yard touchdown run. He’d handled the lion’s share of the ground responsibilities earlier in the game and was able to cap the Patriots’ scoring output before getting a breather on the AC-S sideline.

Cooper’s elder teammates gave him a hard time in a group interview on the field when it was over.

“I know Levi’s only 5-foot-11 and about 160 pounds,” Cope said, “but he eats A LOT for a guy who’s 160 pounds.”

“I’ve got a fast metabolism,” Cooper said with a smile.

Now the Patriots will get ready for their rematch with Franklin-Simpson. It figures to be a pretty competitive environment on the AC-S practice field next week.