Pickens County High School returns to the Class 1A state championship game looking to finish what it started last season.

The Tornadoes fell to three-peat state champions Maplesville at Auburn University’s Jordan-Hare Stadium last year, and they have been driven to make a repeat trip to the finals ever since.

Pickens County (12-2) takes on Sweet Water (12-1), which snapped Maplesville’s 34-game win streak in the quarterfinals, on Thursday at 3 p.m.

“Without a doubt," Tornadoes coach James Thompson said. "That is what has fueled us all year, being able to get back to this game and win it,”

Pickens County is limiting its opponents to 10.1 points and has given up seven points or less in eight games. It is averaging 34.7 points. Sweet Water is allowing 11.2 points and averaging 41.5 points.

The Tornadoes advanced to the finals with a 35-7 victory over region rival South Lamar, and Sweet Water moved on with a 27-21 victory over Wadley.

Thompson said he expects a large fan base from Reform to make the trip to Tuscaloosa.

“This is a place that has a rich tradition in sports and football,” Thompson said. “The school is the cornerstone of the community and they love football. It is a great, great atmosphere.

“The support has been amazing, so I expect with it being closer this year in Tuscaloosa that we will have more fans.”

Sweet Water coach Pat Thompson echoed the same sentiment about his community.

“Our tradition is there and our fan base follows us. Sweet Water will be shut down Thursday afternoon,” Thompson said. “There won't be anybody left in Sweet Water because they will all turn out for this game.”

The last team to win the Class 1A state championship since Maplesville’s three-peat was Pickens County in 2013, its lone title. Sweet Water has won nine state titles: 1978, 1979, 1982, 1986, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010.

 

Reach Joey Chandler at joey.chandler@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0223.