Photos taken by Bridget Stokes
This past Friday night, Bibb County took on the Golden Eagles of Jacksonville High School in the second round of the AHSAA 4A football playoffs. The Golden Eagles ended the Choctaws’ 2022 season when they scored with 12 seconds to play to win 35-28. The Choctaws went into this year’s game seeking revenge, only to have what one might call déjà vu, as the Eagles scored with 38 seconds left to play to win 28-21 and advance to the third round.
Jacksonville got the scoring started with 9:55 left in the first quarter when Jim Ogle hit Damonte Sinclair over the middle for a 48 yard touchdown. Following the extra point by Jaden Bailey, the Golden Eagles led 7-0.
Both defenses held their ground for the rest of the first quarter and most of the second quarter. Bibb was finally able to find the end zone with 3:57 left in the first half when Jordan Leverette connected with Antonius Steele who made a diving catch in the end zone for a touchdown. Kevin Duran kicked the extra point to tie the game up at 7-7.
The Golden Eagles and the Choctaws both were held to three and out and were forced to punt on their next drives.
Jacksonville would execute the two minute drill to perfection on their next drive as Ogle methodically drove the Golden Eagles 50 yards in 5 plays. He found Sinclair again for a 14 yard touchdown connection with 3 seconds left in the half. Bailey extra point made the score 14-7 as the game went to halftime.
The Choctaws would score late in the third quarter when Matthew Cash scored on an 8 yard touchdown run. Duran followed with the extra point to tie the game up at 14-14 as the game headed to the fourth quarter.
Jacksonville would strike again with 7:45 left in the game when Ogle hit Jackson Bonner for a 15 yard touchdown connection on 3rd and 4. Bonner made a one handed catch across the middle and actually was able to pull the ball out of the hands of a diving Choctaws defender. Bailey again was true on the extra point to make it 21-7.
Bibb would not go away as Scooter Sanders returned the ensuing kickoff back 54 yards to set the Choctaws up with a first and 10 at the Jacksonville 37 yard line. Leverette picked up a first down as he carried the ball down to the 24 yard line. Two plays later he hit a wide open Jay Harris for a 24 yard touchdown reception. Duran extra point was good to make it 21-21 with 4:58 to go.
Jacksonville had the next possession at their own 42 yard line following a 27 yard kickoff return to set the Golden Eagles and Ogle up for another 2 minute offensive drill. And as he did in the first half, Ogle ran it to perfection as he ran for a few first downs and dunked a few passes to put Jacksonville into field goal range at the Choctaws 21 yard line. But on second down and just 38 seconds left in the game, Ogle found Ky’dric Fisher open in the end zone for a scoring strike. Bailey extra point was good to put Jacksonville ahead 28-21.
Bibb had one last shot but saw their season come to an end when a 4th down pass fell harmlessly to the ground to seal the victory for Jacksonville.
Though the season did not end the way the Choctaws wanted it to, this season turned out to be a great season for them. They became just the 14th team in school history to win 10 games in a season. 5 of those have come since 2013. Bibb also extended their streak of consecutive seasons to make the playoffs to 11. This is the longest streak in school history.
Bibb finished the season with 599 victories. Their next victory will be the 600th in school history. Only 39 other schools in the state have achieved this.
The Choctaws finished the regular season ranked #7 in the AHSAA Class 4A poll and won the region 3 championship, the 16th region/area title in school history.
This year’s team helped to keep the tradition going that has become a standard at Bibb County High School. And that is when you walk onto that field to play the Choctaws, you better have your helmet pulled on tight and be ready for a fight. This team never backed down and had a season that we should all be proud of. Didn’t make it to where we all wanted to, but in the end, it was a great season, and this team was fun to watch.
Good luck to our seniors as they move forward and graduate. It’s been a great 4 years and I know you guys will turn out to be great young men. Here is hoping that you get to live out all your dreams and they all come true.
The Choctaws would like to thank our cheerleaders, our band, our faculty, the board of education, and all our fans for supporting us and cheering us on all year long. We simply couldn’t have done it without you. And as Coach Geohagan says to our boys before every game, “There ain’t nowhere else in the state of Alabama that I would rather be, than right here.” Til next season.