5. Reeltown steals pair of walk-off wins vs. rival
Dadeville’s baseball team had an extremely successful season under first-year head coach Curtis Martin. It got back to the AHSAA playoffs for the first time since 2014 and finished the regular season by winning 11 of its last 13 games.
But the only two losses the Tigers suffered during that stretch were at the hands of the Reeltown Rebels, both in thrilling victories.
In the first game, Reeltown had a commanding lead going into the final inning but the Tigers scored three runs in the top of the seventh. But the Rebels answered right back. They got the bases loaded before Kolby Coan put the ball in play, hitting a hard groundball to third base. It was misplayed, allowing Logan Lee to score for a 7-6 walk-off win.
The second victory also came in walk-off fashion but this time it was during a high-scoring affair. The Rebels scored a staggering eight runs in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings before Colby Clark played hero with an RBI single that scored Robert Crittenden in the 20-19 win. It was one of just two times the Rebels scored 20 or more runs in a game this year.
4. Football team goes undefeated in region play
Reeltown and Thorsby both entered the football season expecting a Rebel team to win the Class 2A Region 4, but fortunately for the blue and white faithful, it was the Reeltown Rebels who came out on top.
Reeltown went 6-0 in Region play to win the title, and it took a gutsy victory over Thorsby in order to get there. After going back and forth throughout the game, Reeltown came back and took the lead with under five minutes to go.
Thorsby downed a punt at the Reeltown 1-yard line with 5:19 remaining. Cameron Faison gave the Rebels some breathing room with a 5-yard run before Keke Hughley took it to the house on the very next play. That score gave Reeltown the ultimate 34-26 victory.
After a successful season, Faison was named the Outlook Football Player of the Year and Rebel coach Matt Johnson earned the title of Outlook Football Coach of the Year.
3. Four gold medals brought home from track meet
Reeltown also collected four gold medals in the AHSAA Class 2A championships.
Despite not competing for most of the season, Eric Shaw doubled his gold medal collection by taking home three first-place finishes.
Shaw had a three-peat in the 110 hurdles, winning the event in 15.68 and beating out the competition by nearly a half second. Shaw was also first in the 300 hurdles, clocking in at 40.70.
“He had been coming to practice and helping the other hurdlers and giving instructions,” Reeltown coach Alana Garrard said. “Once he was released from physical therapy and released to run, he started going low speed and getting loose but once I saw him go over the hurdles again, I knew he was back.”
The hurdles weren’t the only top performances for Shaw, as he blew away the competition in the high jump. Shaw had the event won after he cleared 6-0, but he kept going and earned a personal best 6-4 for the gold medal.
Reeltown’s other gold medal was earned by newcomer Keon Cooper, who transferred from Booker T. Washington last season. As just a sophomore, Cooper hit a mark of 42-0 in the triple jump, edging out Elberta’s Drew Ray by just a quarter of an inch to win the event.
2. Girls basketball area title comes back to Reeltown
Holding just a six-point lead Wednesday night, Reeltown’s Diyanna Newton turned up the defensive pressure with less than a minute to go in the third quarter.
She picked off a Thorsby player at the top of the key and raced down the court for a wide-open layup. Less than a minute later, in virtually the same fashion Newton did it again. This time she grabbed the steal then more leisurely made her way down the court for another solo score.
The back-to-back transition buckets fired up an already electric Reeltown crowd, and the Rebels’ girls basketball team rode that momentum to a 47-26 victory over Thorsby and the Class 2A Area 8 championship.
“We played a good defense tonight that we just learned last year,” Newton said. “We improved on it, and it made it much better. We’ve been working on it all year long. After we talked about it, we talked about what to do and how to do it. I just watched the girl’s eyes and made sure we were rotating correctly, and it felt great.”
It’s been a long time coming for Reeltown, which hasn’t won the area championship in girls basketball in several years. And the Rebels gave an enthusiastic hometown crowd quite the show.
1. Shaw receives attention from around the state
Eric Shaw is one of the most highly recruited athletes from Tallapoosa County in recent memory, and the rising Reeltown senior is now a four-star athlete according to 247Sports.com.
Despite tearing his ACL midway through his junior year, Shaw started receiving a lot of attention midway through January and the offers started pouring in.
“It’s really special, but I really didn’t expect it,” Shaw said. “It all came out of nowhere. I kinda knew there were teams that wanted me, but I thought the injury would affect it. I thought they would be scared to offer me.”
Shaw now has more than 20 offers from Division I schools, including but not limited to Tennessee, Virginia Tech, JSU, Florida, Ole Miss, Louisville, Virginia, Nebraska, LSU, Kentucky, Missisppi State, Notre Dame, Kansas, Georgia Tech, Troy, Purdue, Vanderbilt, Auburn, Samford, West Virginia and Texas A&M.