300-victory bath

Fyffe’s Eli Benefield, left, and Chase Wooten dump a cooler of ice water on head coach Paul Benefield to celebrate his 300th victory, which came in Friday night’s 49-20 whipping of Sylvania. Benefield is 300-53 in his 29th season as a head coach. He is the eighth football coach in AHSAA history to join the 300-win club.

FYFFE — Twenty-eight years to the day after he posted his first victory, legendary Fyffe head coach Paul Benefield joined the elite fraternity of 300-game winners in the history of Alabama high school football.

Ike Rowell scored three touchdowns and Kyle Dukes and Brodie Hicks two each, propelling the No. 2 Red Devils to a 49-20 whipping of Sylvania in a Class 3A, Region 7 matchup Friday night at Paul Benefield Stadium/Ridgeway-Long Field.

Benefield won 45 games at Sylvania from 1992-96 before coming home to Fyffe, his alma mater, in 1997. He’s collected 255 victories at Fyffe. His overall record is 300-53.

According to the AHSAA, other 300-game winners in Alabama are Buddy Anderson of Vestavia Hills, Terry Curtis of UMS-Wright, Danny Horn of Central-Clay, Jamie Riggs of Houston Academy, Waldon Tucker of Fayette County, Glen Daniel of Luverne and Fred Yancey of Briarwood Christian.

“Not one time,” Benefield said, when asked if he ever dreamed of achieving 300 victories. “I’m not going to lie. Not one time.

“Two or three times I thought I’d be done. If I lose this game, I’m quitting. I never quit. I guess I decided I wasn’t a quitter, and I was going to stick it out.

“I’ve got everything established and got kids that know what to do, and what they need to do to get better every day. It means a lot to be able to come in and have kids that want to get better.

“It’s special. It really is. It’s something that I hope all my kids that played for me will be proud of too and hopefully your family. The Lord’s blessed me in lots of ways and put me where I need to be right here.”

Friday night, the Red Devils (3-0, 2-0) extended their school-record winning streak to 33 games. They’ve won 35 consecutive region games, 42 straight home contests and 51 in a row in the regular season.

Hunter Gillilan’s fumble recovery set up Fyffe’s first scoring drive. Dukes capped the 51-yard march with a 1-yard touchdown plunge at the 3:22 mark of the opening quarter.

Fyffe’s next offensive snap resulted in a 53-yard TD run by Rowell, who burst through the line of scrimmage and sprinted away from Sylvania’s defense with 1:41 on the clock. Brody Dalton’s extra point made it 14-0.

The Red Devils extended their advantage to 21-0 with a three-play, 42-yard drive following a Rams’ punt. Rowell dropped back to pass before scrambling around right end. He reversed his field and raced 33 yards to the end zone with 10:16 to go in the second quarter.

Another one-play drive increased the Red Devils’ margin to 28-0. This time, Dukes crashed through a hole in the middle of the line and rambled 45 yards for a TD with 8:34 remaining.

Fyffe concluded its first-half scoring with a 65-yard drive. Hicks dashed 11 yards for a touchdown with 1:37 left, and Dalton kicked the point-after for a 35-0 cushion.

Rowell returned the second-half kickoff 25 yards to his 45. The Red Devils marched 55 yards in seven plays, expanding their lead to 42-0.

Rowell collected his third TD of the night on a 19-yard run. He ran over a defender at the 13 before sidestepping the last Ram between him and the goal line with 7:46 left in the third period.

Fyffe wrapped up its scoring on its next series, as Hicks broke several tackles on a 26-yard run. Yahir Balcazar’s extra point made it 49-0 at the 4:19 mark of the third.

The Rams avoided the shutout by scoring three fourth-quarter touchdowns, two of them coming after fumbles by Fyffe’s reserves.

Styles Hughes scored on a 3-yard run with 8:41 remaining. Brayden Harris found the end zone on a 5-yard run with 7:08 on the clock. Jaxon Smith ran 8 yards for the Rams’ final TD just 5.2 seconds before the final horn.

Rowell paced the Red Devils with 164 yards rushing on 12 carries. Dukes gained 81 on nine attempts, and Hicks added 51 on four carries.

Sylvania’s Gareth Anderson ran 11 times for 109 yards.

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