The AHSAA has a new 3A champion as Leeds High School pulled off a 42-32 victory Thursday afternoon.
The win saw the Green Wave put up 486 yards of total offense, 418 yards of which were rushed, against the Hamilton Aggies.
Although Hamilton put points on the board first, Leeds refused to stay down for long.
That initial Aggies score came after Leeds' Jonathan Rose fumbled early in the first quarter.
Rose, an Auburn University verbal commit, gave credit to his teammates for not allowing him to get down on himself.
"They told me just come back and make a play for us," Rose said.
About five minutes later, he did just that. Rose picked off Hamilton quarterback Mitch Stults and ran it back 84 yards for a touchdown. It was the longest return for a score in 3A Super Six history. Rose also scored with a 38-yard catch after a fake punt on a fourth down in the second quarter.
Leeds junior running back Ladarius Rodgers was named the MVP of the championship game as he put up 256 yards off 13 carries with three touchdowns. His longest, an 87-yarder, was the longest scoring play in the history of 3A Super Six. His two other touchdown runs consisted of a 34-yard run a 75-yard run, both in the third quarter.
Rodgers' workload increased after fellow running back, senior Dedrick Forsythe, pulled his hamstring early in the second half. Forsythe finished the game with 147 yards off seven runs with a score.
Leeds head coach Keith Etheredge gave credit to the offensive front for allowing so many big plays in the running game. He added that his team knew Hamilton's offense was threatening, so it needed to put up at least 28 points to come away with a win.
"We knew they had a lot of weapons and we wanted to slow them down and put some points on the board," Etheredge said. "And we did. I'm so proud of these guys."
Etheredge said usually the Leeds relies on the defense to lead the team to victory, but the championship game win was because of the offense.
"It's been defense, defense, defense," Etheredge said. "Our offense really stepped up today when we need them."
Rose, who is anticipated to be a cornerback at Auburn next year, said playing in Jordan-Hare today was an "amazing" experience.
"It was great because I got to play with these guys I've been with for years, starting in the metro league and now playing at Jordan-Hare where I'm going to play next year," Rose said. "Some of these guys' biggest dream is to play here and I'm glad they got to play here and have their dream just like I'm going to have my dream."
*** The victory is the Green Wave's second state championship with the other coming in 2008. Hamilton was playing in its first state title game.
*** Rodgers averaged 19.69 yards per attempt. He also added three tackles from his defensive line position. His 87-yard touchdown run is the fourth-longest in Super Six history for any classification.
*** Rose's 84-yard interception run is the second-longest in Super Six history for any classification.
*** Leeds' six touchdowns averaged 64.33 yards per play. The Green Wave had four scoring plays of 68 yards or longer. In addition, Leeds had four scoring drives of 75 yards or more, including two 90-yard scoring drives.
*** Hamilton scored 12 points off three Leeds turnovers in the first half. The Aggies capitalized on a first quarter fumble and took a 6-0 lead on quarterback Mitch Stults 2-yard run. Stults then added a 13-yard interception return just before halftime. Hamilton's 6-0 lead marked just the third time this season that Leeds had trailed in a game.
*** Hamilton's 32 points are the most allowed by Leeds in a game this season. The previous high was 13 points by Handley and Moody. Leeds allowed only 20 points in the previous four playoff games.