Several running backs across the state turned in stellar rushing performances last Friday, including three from the Cherokee County area. Cedar Bluff’s D’Shawn Fife, Collinsville’s Jalyn Martin and Piedmont’s Dreek Thompson were among those honored by the Alabama Sportswriters Association for its Players of the Week.
CEDAR BLUFF – After last week’s heartbreaking one-point region loss to Spring Garden, the Cedar Bluff Tigers’ backs were against the wall Friday night against defending Class 1A, Region 7 champion Valley Head.
SAND ROCK – The move up to Class 3A doesn’t appear to be a problem for the Sand Rock Wildcats. They improved to 3-0 (2-0 Region 7) with a 56-22 victory over North Sand Mountain on Friday.
CENTRE – Senior running back Devin Harris ran wild Friday night at Centre. He gained 205 yards on 12 carries and scored five touchdowns in leading the Saks Wildcats to a 38-16 Class 4A, Region 6 football victory over Cherokee County.
PIEDMONT – The final score showed Piedmont defeating Ohatchee 49-12. That score doesn’t reflect it but both Ohatchee (1-2) and Piedmont (3-0) played with the intention of winning from the start Friday night in their Class 3A, Region 6 fray.
HOLLY POND – Class 2A Collinsville kept Class 3A Holly Pond winless on the 2014 football season Friday, sending the Broncos to their 13th straight loss with a 28-14 win.
GADSDEN – Class 1A, No. 8 Cedar Bluff swept a pair of volleyball matches against Ohatchee and Gaston on Thursday. The Lady Tigers defeated Ohatchee 25-16, 25-23 and beat Gaston 25-16, 25-17 to improve to 4-13 on the season.
Major brand sponsors are watching closely to make sure the National Football League doesn't fumble the investigation into how its executives handled evidence in the Ray Rice domestic violence case.
For big companies like Anheuser-Busch, General Motors and Procter & Gamble, an NFL sponsorship is a coveted prize. The deals can cost up to $10 million per brand, but they deliver eyeballs. An average of 17.4 million viewers watched professional football games during the 2013 season, according to Nielsen.
Now that the NFL is investigating how its executives handled a video showing Baltimore running back Ray Rice hitting his then-fiancee, sponsors are forced to balance the exposure NFL games offer with the risk of alienating customers.
On Wednesday, the NFL said it hired former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller to lead the investigation. League Commissioner Roger Goodell previously said no one at the NFL had seen the video before it surfaced on Monday, but the AP reported Wednesday that a law enforcement official sent the tape to the organization in April.
With the investigation just beginning, experts say there is little else sponsors can do but wait and see.
"These situations often develop and change direction very rapidly, so sponsors need to be incredibly agile," said Allen Adamson, managing director of branding firm Landor Associates. "What's true right now may not be true in two hours, so (sponsors) will have to monitor how the NFL reacts, and then how consumers react to the reactions."
When a scandal hits an individual athlete, brands usually move swiftly to cut ties. Nike severed its relationship with Rice after the video surfaced. Video game maker Electronic Arts said it would scrub Rice's image from its latest Madden 15 release.
But no sponsor company has said it will end its relationship with the NFL — yet.
"Obviously all the sponsors are incredibly worried, but it's hard for a sponsor to disconnect from the entire NFL. It's so important to business," said Atlanta-based marketing consultant Laura Ries. "If Roger Goodell had any sponsors, he'd probably lose those, but there's no one person attached to this."
TD Ameritrade said the company has received little reaction from clients about its NFL sponsorship, which it just announced last week.
"This incident brings to light a disturbing act that we believe is wrong, and while the NFL has, admittedly, not done everything right, we hope that it will quickly learn from its mistakes and work to improve a culture that values the inclusion, safety and respect of its employees and their families," the company said in a statement. "This means holding people fully accountable for their actions and the consequences associated with them."
TD Ameritrade and the NFL announced a three-year sponsorship deal on Sept. 4. The online brokerage said it is not making changes but added that "as with any sponsorship, media buy, etc., we carefully monitor the effect it has on our business and brand, and if we feel those assets are being compromised, we'll make the appropriate decisions."
General Motors, a sponsor since 2001, has no plans to change its advertising on NFL games because of the Rice case, said spokeswoman Ryndee Carney.
Carney said she was not aware of the company receiving complaints about its football advertising. GM said it supports the NFL's decision to conduct an investigation. "We will continue to monitor future developments regarding this issue," Carney said.
FedEx also said it is monitoring the situation.
"We are watching developments in this matter closely and we are confident that the League will take the appropriate steps," said Patrick Fitzgerald, senior vice president of marketing and communications at FedEx.
PepsiCo said it was encouraged to see that the NFL "is now treating this with the seriousness it deserves."
Other large NFL sponsors, such as Anheuser-Busch and Procter & Gamble, did not respond to requests to comment or declined to comment.
For now, analysts don't expect a big change in viewership during NFL games.
"Games will go on and fans will — for the most part — want to watch," Ries said.
SAND ROCK - Courtney Rowe came away with eight kills, eight digs and five aces to lead Class 3A, No. 10 Sand Rock to a 25-11, 25-9, 25-17 volleyball victory over visiting Gadsden City on Thursday.
Three Cherokee County volleyball teams saw movement in the latest AL.com volleyball rankings, released on Thursday.
Below are area high school football statistics through Week 2. Reporting this week was Cedar Bluff, Cherokee County, Gaylesville, Piedmont, Sand Rock and Spring Garden. Some schools only partially reported.
SPRING GARDEN – Something Sand Rock volleyball coach Lisa Bates has been looking for from her Lady Wildcats this season is getting their matches off to a fast start.
The last time the Spring Garden Panthers got off to a 2-0 start to a football season was 2012. That year, the Panthers won their first six games and secured a Class 1A playoff spot.
The Spring Garden Panthers posted a dramatic 21-20 come-from-behind football victory Friday at Class 1A, Region 7 rival Cedar Bluff on Friday. It was just the Panthers’ third win over the Tigers in their 44-year rivalry and the first since 2007.
The Alabama High School Athletic Association released its Week 3 Football Spotlight late Monday afternoon. Seven area athletes were among those recognized.
One of our readers sent me an email about my high school football picks last week.
ROME, Ga. - Class 3A, No. 8 Sand Rock reached the semifinals of the Coosa Invitational Volleyball Tournament on Saturday, going 4-1 for the day to improve to 7-4 for the season.
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - Jacksonville State needed overtime to give John Grass his first win as its head coach.
CEDAR BLUFF – Spring Garden senior Kyle Reece had last October’s football game with Cedar Bluff etched in his memory.
GUNTERSVILLE – Sand Rock sophomore Josh Sarrett booted a 25-yard field goal with 8:33 left in the fourth quarter, proving to be the winning points in the Wildcats’ 10-8 Class 3A, Region 7 football victory at Brindlee Mountain on Friday.
CENTRE – Cleburne County senior quarterback Brady Padgett connected on 5-of-10 pass attempts for 139 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Tigers to a 31-0 victory at Cherokee County in Class 4A, Region 6 football action on Friday.