EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second in a five-part series chronicling the sports milestones and accomplishments of the each of the five Cherokee County schools this past school year.
CEDAR BLUFF - Year after year, Cedar Bluff athletics are seemingly always in the hunt for championships. The 2016-17 school year was no different.
Coming off a 13-2 record and a state runner-up showing in 2015, the Cedar Bluff football team began the fall being ranked second to defending Class 1A state champion Maplesville in the first Alabama Sports Writers Association poll of the season. After the first month of the season, the Tigers held a 3-2 mark, but then won four of their last five games -- including a thrilling 29-24 victory over previously unbeaten Spring Garden on Oct. 21 -- to clinch their second straight region championship.
After disposing of Berry-Fayette 41-20 in the first round of the state playoffs, the Tigers' season ended in heartbreaking fashion against Decatur Heritage.
With the game on the line in overtime and trailing by a point, Cedar Bluff head coach Jonathan McWhorter decided to roll the dice after junior all-purpose threat Isaiha Jones had just scored his fifth touchdown of the game.
McWhorter called timeout and decided to go for two and the win.
Jones swept to the left side of the line, but he was met by a swarm of Eagle defenders who bottled him up. They tackled him for a five-yard loss, ending the Tigers’ season at 8-4 by the final of 42-41.
Jones led the Tigers with 295 yards on 31 carries and five touchdowns. Sophomore running back Ivory Starr added 100 yards on 30 carries with a touchdown.
Following the season, Cedar Bluff earned 10 all-county selections, including Jones, Starr, Seth Bishop, Ross Johnson, Jonathon Shinn, Derick Pearsey, Davion Fife, Dylan Oglesby, Ethan Teague and Tray McMeekin. Jones, Bishop and Johnson were also selected to the ASWA Class 1A All-State Football Second Team.
Under the guidance of first-year coach Deidra Davis, the Lady Tiger volleyball team finished runner-up to Sand Rock in the Cherokee County Tournament on Sept. 24 and runner-up to Spring Garden in the Class 1A, Area 14 tournament on Oct. 17. The Lady Tigers advanced to the North Regional Tournament in Huntsville. Their season ended at 21-23 against Donoho in four games on Oct. 20.
Laura Ann Hughes, Kiana Dobbins and Hannah Cosby were all chosen to the All-County Volleyball Team.
In basketball, Cedar Bluff's girls won the Class 1A, Area 14 tournament championship with a 65-52 victory at seventh-ranked Skyline on Feb. 10. Freshman forward Alexis Smith earned the tournament's Most Valuable Player honor. She scored 15 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, had two assists and a steal in the game. The win secured the Lady Tigers' first area girls basketball championship in school history.
Cedar Bluff went on to defeat Athens Bible 63-37 in sub-regional action on Feb. 13. Smith again led the Lady Tigers with 17 points, 13 rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots.
Cedar Bluff's season came to an end to eventual state runner-up Spring Garden in a 61-25 setback in the Class 1A Northeast Regional Tournament at Jacksonville State University on Feb. 18. They finished the year at 13-19.
Smith and sophomore guard Kallie Kilgro earned All-County recognition following the season.
Cedar Bluff's boys basketball team finished as runner-up in the Cherokee County basketball tournament on Jan. 14. The Tigers fell in the championship game to Cherokee County 70-59. Cedar Bluff defeated Spring Garden 55-53 the night before to earn their title game berth.
Cedar Bluff went on to finish runner-up to Skyline in the Class 1A, Area 14 tournament. Their season ended at 17-15 with a 55-43 loss at Decatur Heritage. Junior forward Michael Croft and junior point guard Isaiha Jones were selected to the All-County team.
Nick Sawyer made history as the first Cherokee County Golf Invitational champion on April 18 at the Cherokee County Country Club in Centre. Sawyer shot even-par 71, two strokes better than his brother Mark Sawyer.
Cole Grace captured first place in the 300 meter hurdles (41.53), took third in the 400 meter dash (53.13) and earned fifth in the 110 meter hurdles (16.77) to lead the Cedar Bluff boys track and field team to 12th place at the Class 1A state meet in Cullman on May 5-6. Cedar Bluff's girls track and field team came in seventh place.
Cedar Bluff's baseball team was ranked No. 1 for two weeks in the Alabama Sports Writers Association Class 1A baseball rankings (March 23 and March 30). It was the first time in school history the Tigers had been ranked on top of the poll. The Tigers went on to earn the Class 1A, Area 14 championship with a 14-5 victory over Gaylesville on April 13. The Tigers were down a run in the bottom of the sixth inning, but pinch hitter Greyson Wilson gave Cedar Bluff the lead with his three-run homer to left center. Third baseman Ryne Burt put the icing on the cake a his grand slam.
The Tigers advanced to the Class 1A state quarterfinals, where their season came to an end against Decatur Heritage. Cedar Bluff finished the season at 19-14. Head coach Andrew Kinney resigned following the season to take the head softball job at Class 6A Albertville on May 16. Ross Johnson, Ethan Teague, Anthony Dingler, Dakota Dobbins and Keaton Kilgro earned All-County baseball honors.
In softball, Cedar Bluff finished runner up to Skyline in the Class 1A, Area 14 tournament on May 3. The Lady Tigers' season ended May 13 with a 5-4 setback to Waterloo at the North Softball Regional in Huntsville. Cedar Bluff fell just two wins shy of reaching the state tournament. They finished the year at 18-24. Kiana Dobbins and Mikenzie Gossett were both all-county softball selections.
Speaking of Dobbins, she signed a softball scholarship with Huntingdon College on May 4. She finished the season batting .427 with 12 doubles, three triples, a home run, 19 stolen bases, 36 runs and 30 RBIs.