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The Pickens County Tornados (7-3, 7-1) clinched the second spot in Class 1A Region 5 by defeating the Marion County Red Raiders (7-3, 6-2) at home on Thursday night 51-21.

"It gets kind of iffy because we have a lot of guys who can make plays and sometimes we have guys who don't get the touches that they think they deserve. It's a double edge sword to it because you have to try to figure out a way to get everybody the ball in different situations. I feel like now with playoffs coming everybody put their pride to the side and now whoever's got the best matchup tonight or whatever night it is, whoever's got the best matchup that's who we're trying to go to. We got the running game going so whatever's the best for the team, that's what we're going to do.

If the Pickens County squad wasn't motivated by the opportunity to host a first-round playoff game, the Tornados had a little something extra to prove in the form of a letter. The Tornados received a letter, addressed from Marion County, claiming the Red Raiders would shut down the Pickens County offense and win on the final week of the season.

Was the letter legitimate? Was it forged to fire up the Tornados? We'll never know, but ultimately it spurred the Reform squad to start strong and keep the pedal down through four quarters.

"Might have been a joke, might have been a hoax from someone on our team but it definitely got our guys fired up. Coach (Kyle) Williams had no idea what the letter was so that let me know that it didn't come from them but whoever did it, I appreciate it. It gave our guys the extra tick that they usually don't have and you saw it. It was a pretty good night for us," said Pickens County head coach Michael Williams.

The Tornados touched down in the first half leaving the Red Raiders disoriented and disheveled and headed into the halftime break leading 38-7 and cruised in the second half to a dominant victory.

Pickens County head coach Michael Williams was impressed with his team's effort and selflessness, as five different players contributed to the offenses eight total touchdowns on the evening.

Pickens County set the tone on its second play of the game when senior quarterback Demarkis Giles found junior Santonio Jones for a 75-yard touchdown strike to get the Tornados on the board. Jones proved to be a dangerous weapon as both a receiver and a special teamer. He scored a second touchdown on a 45-yard reception and had a big punt return and kick return on special teams to set up the offense in great field position.

The Tornados ground game was led by tailback Elijah Merriweather who toted the rock seven times for 131 yards and four touchdowns. Merriweather cut through the Red Raiders defense for touchdown runs of 38, 6, 17 and 18 yards to provide physicality and attitude to the Pickens County offense.

Giles proved to be an effective passer when he saw action as a starter. He completed 5-of-9 passes for 174 yards and 3 touchdowns with 1 interception.

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Giles found Jones for two of his touchdown passes, his third went to Zackary Boone to close out the half and send Pickens County into the locker room with a 31-point lead.

The Tornados didn't stop the scoring as they took just three offensive plays in the second half to score two more touchdowns. Pickens County utilized a long Jones kickoff return, hard running by Merriweather and a fumbled Marion County kickoff return to extend its lead from 31-points to 44, ending any Red Raiders hopes of a second-half comeback.

"Great team performance, came in  we wanted to dominate on offense, defense and special teams and I like the way we came in with a game plan. we came out and executed the way we wanted to. Marion's a great team, I know the scoreboard doesn't indicate that tonight, but that team is a great team and I'm pretty sure if we take care of the business that we're supposed to take care of we'll see them again down the road," said Williams.

It was a disappointing night for Marion County but quarterback Joseph Aldridge did end up passing for three scores on the night. Aldridge found Jacob Madison in first and second half for a touchdown and Gavin Cole in the second half.

The junior finished his evening  13-for-23 for 149 yards with three touchdown passes 26 yards rushing.

Pickens County now turns its attention to the post-season and will host a first round game on Friday, Nov. 4. and will play Wadley.

"Not where we wanted to be but we like the fact that we're hosting a home playoff game. That was a big point of emphasis this week. We knew we had to wrap up the number two seed. The guys played inspired tonight and as long as we're playing inspired I like our chances against anyone in 1A and I'm proud to have a home playoff game next week," said Williams.

Marion County hits the road and play Ragland in the first round of the playoffs.



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