FYFFE — Just in case any teams in the northern part of the Class 2A state playoff bracket were curious, the road to the Super 7 still leads through Fyffe.
The defending state champion Red Devils (11-0) launched their quest for back-to-back titles by smashing Sheffield 48-0 Friday night at Long-Ridgeway Stadium. It’s their 37th consecutive win on their home turf.
Fyffe scored on seven of its eight offensive possessions, and its defense racked up its eighth shutout of the season, the most in head coach Paul Benefield’s tenure as head coach from 1997-2019.
The Bulldogs reached Fyffe territory only twice during the contest.
Fyffe, which finished 15-0 last season, extended its winning streak to 26 games. Benefield’s squad will host No. 7 Ranburne (10-1) in the second round Nov. 15.
“I’m real proud of all of them,” Benefield said. “My young guys get after it and they practice hard too, and I was real proud of them there at the end.
“My first bunch was focused all week. These guys, they stay even-keeled, and we’re going to try and play it one at a time and see what happens.
“I have people call me and say when are you going to have this and that and competition. Every game is competition. Any game you go into in the playoffs, you can lose if you don’t respect the people you’re playing against and prepare to play.”
The Red Devils collected their 50th playoff victory by beating Sheffield. They are 50-35 all-time in the postseason.
Sheffield quarterback Khori Bowling is also his team’s punter. Four plays into the game, a punt snap sailed over his head. He picked it up and threw it into the hands of Fyffe’s Hunter Gillilan at the Sheffield 32-yard line.
Ike Rowell ran for 12 yards, Malichi Mize for 16 and then quarterback Zach Pyron for 4 and a touchdown at the 9:14 mark of the first quarter. Brody Dalton provided the extra point.
The Red Devils drove 56 yards in five plays to extend their advantage to 14-0. Rowell scored on a 4-yard run with 5:22 remaining, and Dalton toed the point-after.
Following a Sheffield punt, Pyron completed his only pass of the game, a 41-yarder to Rowell, who made a juggling catch. The gain resulted in a first-and-goal at the 10. Pyron scored his second TD, this time on a 5-yard carry at the 2:11 mark.
Fyffe marched 57 yards in seven plays to make it 28-0. Kyle Dukes bulldozed Sheffield tacklers on the final two plays of the drive, an 11-yard carry to the 3, followed by a 3-yard scoring run with 9:54 remaining in the second quarter. Dalton kicked the PAT.
Pyron’s interception set up the Red Devils’ next scoring drive, a seven-play, 75-yard series that featured runs of 26 and 10 yards by Rowell and 14 yards by Mize.
Rowell scored on a 1-yard run with 3:29 to go in the second period, and Dalton kicked it to 35-0.
Rowell returned the second-half kickoff to Sheffield’s 38, setting up a six-play scoring drive. Dukes contributed a 13-yard run, and Mize finished it with a 3-yard TD with 7:59 left in the third quarter. Dalton’s kick increased Fyffe’s cushion to 42-0.
Fyffe’s Tyler Machen grabbed an interception off a tipped pass with 6:31 to go, putting his offense in business at the Fyffe 26.
The Red Devils drained the clock with a nine-play, 74-yard march. Brodie Hicks carried six times, including a tackle-breaking 18-yard TD run with 11 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Yahir Balcazar missed the PAT.
Sheffield responded with its best drive of the night.
Bowling hit DonTavious Long with a 16-yard pass to the Fyffe 40, and Jaylen Jones spun away from a group of tacklers and rushed for 13 yards to convert a fourth-and-two from the 32.
Bowling barreled his way for 11 yards and a first-and-goal at the 8, but Fyffe’s second-team defense answered with a goal-line stand to keep the Bulldogs off the scoreboard. Balcazar sacked Bowling for a 3-yard loss on fourth-and-goal from the 5 with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Bowling experienced a tough night against Fyffe’s defense, completing just 8-of-22 passes for 69 yards.