A season removed from the team’s first Alabama Spring Football League (ASFL) championship, West Jefferson not only won its second consecutive title after a 12-6 win over the St. Clair Assassins, but concluded one of best years in league history.
En route to going a perfect 9-0 and extending their winning streak to eleven games, the Devildawgs outscored opponents 180-34 and recorded six shutouts.
“Winning the two championships has not been easy. Both of the teams we faced came to play and we had to go out and earn our titles,” West Jefferson owner/coach Jesse Reed said. “In situations like our championship games where we have to struggle to emerge victorious, the battle that you wage makes the win even more rewarding. For us as a team to do this for two years in a row is really special for each and every player, but for the area and the community we represent.”
The championship game against St. Clair followed a familiar formula that paved the way to West Jefferson’s success throughout the season: a strong defense and a ball-control offense.
The Devildawgs’ defense kicked off the scoring with a 17-yard fumble return by Dora’s Marquis Chapel for the 6-0 West Jefferson lead.
Former Walker Viking and quarterback D.J. Smith scored the Devildawgs’ second touchdown on a one-yard touchdown run.
Another former Dora Bulldog, cornerback Brennan Nash, made a key interception on the final St. Clair offensive drive of the game to preserve the Devildawgs’ title-winning victory.
Smith, who has lead West Jefferson from under center for the past two championships, also received an additional honor on top of the outstanding season — being named the 2013 ASFL Player of the Year.
“D.J. has been our offensive leader without any question,” Reed said.
“The skills he has as a quarterback are clearly phenomenal, but the value that he brings to the team in terms of his experience and leadership can’t be expressed with words.”
The Devildawgs’ defensive leader, “Minister” Sean Madison, earned MVP honors for the game with his performance — recording eight tackles and three and one-half sacks.
Reed also cited the leadership of defensive captain Rusty Bradford as a critical part of West Jefferson’s success. Bradford, a veteran player who also served as the team’s strength and conditioning coach, added an additional duty this season as the Devildawgs’ defensive coordinator.
“Rusty is such a positive person and a motivating spirit. When he missed a few games this year due to drills he conducted as part of his service to the Army, is was a completely different sideline atmosphere,” Reed said.
“He worked hard to not only keep everyone on the defensive side of the ball happy but made sure they were getting a lot of experience too by having playing time for all of them. He emphasized that we all played for each other and all won together and I think that was a reason why our defense was such a dominating force this season.”
Other players on the team that Reed commend for their play throughout the year was Minor’s Steven Estis, Parrish’s Andre Tucker, Meek’s Caleb Grace and Hueytown’s Ronnie Cockrell.