MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Piedmont High School senior quarterback Jack Hayes is leaving quite a legacy.
Last week, he completed 29-of-38 pass attempts for 401 yards and five touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ 42-14 victory Calhoun County rival Ohatchee.
His five touchdowns accounted for pushed him to No. 1 in AHSAA history while his five TD passes moved him into second place all-time in that touchdown category. Career passing and total offense records are still within his grasp as well. For his efforts, Hayes lands in the AHSAA Prep Football Spotlight this week.
From Piedmont Coach Steve Smith’s perspective, his senior quarterback’s true worth aren’t in the passing numbers – but in the number of games he has started for the Bulldogs (49) and in the number of games won (42).
“He just somehow finds a way to win the game,” said Smith, who was an outstanding quarterback himself in his own high school days. One does not have to look far. Last year’s Class 3A state finals would be a good place to start. Piedmont found itself trailing 29-6 to Montgomery Academy at the half, but Hayes and his teammates battled back to win the 3A state title 35-33 – outscoring their opponents 29-4 in the final two quarters with the points allowed being two intentional safeties.
Piedmont has won two state titles (2019 and 2021) with Hayes at the throttles.
“He is just a natural leader,” says Smith. “The players believe in him, and he believes in them. It is truly an amazing thing to witness week after week.”
Hayes surpassed Lanett quarterback Kristian Story to become the AHSAA’s all-time career leader in touchdowns accounted for last week. Story had 175 in his fabled career, and Hayes now has 179. He tied the record with a 32-yard pass to Max Hanson in the first quarter of last week’s game and broke the record with a 59-yard strike to Thomas Propst on the first play of the second quarter. Propst finished with 11 catches for 128 yards, and Ishmael Bethel had five catches for 170 yards and TDs covering 65 and 80 yards.
Hayes now has 133 career TD passes and 46 rushing touchdowns. He has 8,778 career passing yards, which ranks seventh all-time and is 1,996 yards behind the AHSAA career leader JaMarcus Russell of Williamson, who had 10,774 passing yards in his career before moving on to LSU before becoming the first player picked in the NFL Draft in 2007. Hayes’ career TD passing total is just one behind all-time AHSAA career leader Chris Smelley, who closed out his prep career at American Christian with 134. He went on to have an outstanding career the University of South Carolina quarterbacking for legendary coach Steve Spurrier before returning to Alabama to become a high school coach. He is currently on the staff at Hoover High School.
Story, who is currently a member of the Alabama football team playing safety, holds the AHSAA career total offense record (13,218), which combines passing, rushing and pass receiving yardage. Hayes currently ranks fifth all-time with 11,200 total yards.
Hayes’ record-setting performance last week edged out two outstanding receiving efforts by receivers Ben Hall of Southeastern and Grayson Davenport of Randolph School in Huntsville that earned both submissions into the AHSAA Record Book. Hall caught five passes for 295 yards and five touchdowns, added six tackles and a fumble recovery on defense as the Mustangs posted a wild 57-53 victory over Holly Pond in Class 2A, Region 6. His 295 receiving yards in a single game rank 5th all-time, according to the AHSAA Record Book. Also, last week, Davenport had 13 receptions for 289 yards and four scores in a 53-20 Class 4A, Region 8 win over Westminster Christian to move into fifth place all-time.
LaFayette’s Chris Simpson set the record in 2000 with 412 yards on 20 catches in a 38-37 win over Alabama Christian. Westbrook Christian’s Brandon Greer had 11 catches for 311 yards in a 54-20 win over Donoho in 1998; Dora’s Stevie Woods had 22 catches for 303 yards in a 38-35 loss to Oak Grove in 2010; and Fayette County’s Sam Collins caught 16 passes for 298 yards in a 47-27 win over Pleasant Grove in 1997.
Tied an AHSAA state record by becoming the 20th player on record to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in the Wildcats’ 62-14 win over Boaz in Class 5A, Region 7. He also had an interception on defense. The first AHSAA player on record to accomplish the feat was Coffee Springs’ Jon Arnett in 1971. His TD returns covered 85 and 75 yards and came in a 44-22 loss to Uriah (J.U. Blacksher). It happened twice last season. Foley’s Ty Roper had two 99-yard kickoff returns for scores in a 35-31 win over Davidson, and Hazel Green’s Jerron Smith had two in the Trojans’ 49-26 victory over Mae Jemison. Five different players share the national record (3) – the most recent to accomplish the feat was Cole Corey of Tecumseh (MI) versus Ypsilanti Lincoln in 2002. His kickoff returns for TDs covered 94, 84 and 94 yards according to the NFHS National Record Book.
Coach Ernie Willingham
Moved past the school's wins leader Coach Raymond Weaver with the Panthers’ 37-20 win over Sand Rock. Running back Keaton DeBoard rushed for 192 yards and four touchdowns on 20 carries and teammate Mason McAteer added 158 rushing yards on eight carries. He scored on a 55-yard run as Collinsville (3-1) improved to 2-1 in Class 2A, Region 7.
Willingham, in his 14th season as Collinsville’s head coach, now owns an 86-62 record at Collinsville – where he is serving his third tour as head coach. Weaver compiled an 85-103 record at the small DeKalb County high school from 1976-1993. A total of 27 head coaches have served at Collinsville in its 102-year football history. Willingham, who is a Collinsville graduate who played for Weaver, owns a 137-92 overall record in 21 seasons with seven years at Appalachian. He served as a high school basketball coach at Appalachian and Albertville before landing his first head football coaching job at Collinsville in 1998. He compiled a 31-24 record over the next five years with his 1999 team winning 10 games. He moved back to Appalachian as head football coach in 2004 – compiling a 51-30 slate and back-to-back 10-win seasons in 2008 and 2009. He stepped down as head football coach for the Eagles after the 2010 season and re-emerged back at his alma mater in 2013. Since then, he has compiled a 55-38 record through this season. He did not coach the team in 2020, however. Daniel Garrett served as head coach. Willingham directed the Panthers to a 12-2 record in 2019, their best season since Weaver’s 1983 team finished 12-1— losing 8-6 to 1A state champion Millport in the semifinals. Weaver’s 1982 team finished 10-2 and reached the semis falling to Akron 7-6.