Handley Tigers Take Class 4A State Championship
The Handley Tigers (12-1) out of Roanoke, Alabama defeated the Gordo Greenwave (13-2) 35-20 to win the AHSAA Class 4A State Championship. The Tigers defeated both Tuscaloosa-area schools, American Christian Academy and Gordo, in consecutive weeks to win the championship in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Tigers running back Tae Meadows dominated the contest, carrying the Handley offense with 38 carries for 264 yards and four touchdowns. Meadows cleared the 2,000 yard mark for his junior year in this game, he totaled 486 yards and eight touchdowns in back-to-back weeks in Tuscaloosa. The University of Tennessee gave him his first scholarship offer last week.
"Tae is a heck of a back man, he's as good as advertised and I think if you ask him, that offensive line they've got, they're pretty dog-gone good too. He's as good as advertised," said Gordo Coach Ryan Lolley. "They're a lot like us, they're hard nose, they're blue collar, they're going to get after it and they've got a tremendous team."
Dylan Brooks, 5-star prospect committed to Tennessee, was also pivotal to the Handley Tigers championship victory. Brooks notched five tackles with 1.5 sacks and helped offensively with one reception for 30 yards. His reception was the longest pass of the day for Handley and set up Meadows' first touchdown run.
Handley quaterback Evan Cofield mixed in 17 rushing attempts for 84 yards and added 35 yards passing. Ayden Robertson only carried the ball once for the Tigers but the senior running back made it count by scoring the only other Handley touchdown.
Gordo made all its hay through the passing game, junior quarterback Tanner Bailey completed 16-of-36 for 222 yards and two touchdowns but was under heavy pressure all game long and unable to consistently move the ball. Bailey also got into the endzone on a short quaterback sneak.
Gordo was shut out in the second half, only amassing 41 yards of total offense and giving up three sacks, the Greenwave averaged 1.6 yards per play in the second half.
Bailey's touchdown passes went to Hunter Oglen and Ben Capps. JT Billups led the team in receiving with six receptions for 75 yards, Capps had four receptions for 64 yards and a touchdown, Oglen reeled in three passes for 43 yards and the score.
Gordo fought hard defensively but did not have enough to stop the Handley rushing attack. Handley rushed for 340 yards to Gordo's 38 in the game. Gordo senior linebacker Tyrell Mayberry gave his best effort, accumulating 15 tackles and one sack in the game, Capps helped him from the safety position with 11 tackles.
The Handley Tigers defeated the Gordo Greenwave 35-20 to win its first AHSAA Class 4A State Championship since 2016.