Northside Rams Roll in Rivalry To Wrap Up Regular Season
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The Northside Rams (8-2, 5-2) finished its regular season on Friday night by claiming its 11th straight victory over the Sipsey Valley Bears (4-6, 3-4) on senior night by a final score of 27-6.
"I think we played hard. I think we established our identity back, what Northside football's about. You know, it's a big rivalry game and our guys just came ready to play. Getting ready for the playoffs now," said first year head coach Robbie Jones.
Fortunately, both schools already had playoff position secure entering Friday night's contest but building momentum and winning the rivalry game was still important for both sides.
The Rams utilized its signature style to grind down the Bears throughout the game. Northridge forced a three-and-out to open the game and then got to work. A 9-play, 76 yard drive ate over six minutes of game clock and ended with a 6-yard Braden Green touchdown plunge.
Green was magnificent throughout the evening and particularly in the first drive of each half. He salvaged the Rams opening drive with a 21-yard completion to Justin Montgomery on 4th-and-10 to set Northside up with first and goal. The senior rushed for 55 yards in the second half's opening possession, including a 35-yard scamper. Green managed to finish off both drives with rushing scores to set the tone for his team.
Green finished the night 4-of-5 passing for 67 yards and took 18 carries for 119 yards and two touchdowns.
"It was pretty fun, I like beating Sipsey Valley," said Green.
"Sometimes we have a tendency to drive the ball down the field and then we stall in the end. We can't do that in the playoffs, so we've just got to be able to finish our drives," said the quarterback as he leads his team into the playoffs for the third consecutive year as a starter.
Green wasn't alone in the Rams rushing attack as he was aided by senior Luke Jones and sophomore Isaiah Turner. Jones took the lion's share of the load, toting the rock 26 times for 165 yards and scoring the final touchdown to to ice the contest. Turner chipped in with five carries for 30 yards and scored a touchdown that gave the Rams a 14-0 lead in the second quarter.
The Rams held down Sipsey Valley's explosive offense throughout the evening, only allowing one first down throughout the entire contest. In fact, the Bears only touchdown came on a two-play drive in the second quarter when sophomore quarterback LJ Cormier found junior Wyatt Bailey on a 55-yard pass down the sidelines.
"We definitely got out-physicaled. They were a lot more physical football team and they showed it. There's no telling how many first downs they had, I'll hate to even look at that, how many yards rushing they had. They're a good football team, good, strong football team. They do what they do and they do it well, nothing flashy. They do what they want to and they demand that you take it," said Sipsey Valley head coach Joey Milligan.
The Sipsey Valley Bears will still play in the playoffs for the first time since 2018 in Milligan's first season as head coach. The Class 4A Region 3 fourth place finish will earn them a trip to Anniston to take on the undefeated Region 4 champions. The Anniston Bulldogs (9-0, 6-0) are currently ranked as the No. 2 team in Class 4A in the AHSAA poll and had its BYE week this weekend.
The Northside Rams enter the AHSAA playoffs with some momentum, finishing the season with a collective 75-6 victory over Hamilton and Sipsey Valley in the final two weeks. The Rams hit the road next week and take on the Etowah Blue Devils (7-3, 5-1). The Blue Devils finished second place in Region 6 and are considered AHSAA's No. 15 team in Class 4A. The Rams have only played the Blue Devils once, in the 2020 third round and falling 49-14.
"Win you stay, you lose you go home. Just like the World Series, the playoffs you've got to be ready to go. They knocked us out in the quarterfinals two years ago. It's time to go back over there and see if we can change it," said Jones.