1. Rawls shines as Indians QB after Martin injury

It comes as no surprise this year’s top sports story revolved around the Wetumpka football team. The devastating news JD Martin would miss his senior season was announced in August and Wetumpka’s title hopes seemingly disappeared.

Martin’s teammates stepped up as the Indians saw improvements from its defense and a breakout star in Tyquan Rawls. Wetumpka fell short of its ultimate goal of winning state but the team made an appearance in the semifinals and won the area championship in back to back seasons for the first time in school history.

Not only did Rawls help to save the Indians’ season, he also was recognized around the state. It was announced Saturday Rawls is a finalist for the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Class 6A Back of the Year.

2. Local programs celebrate Division I signings

High school coaches across the country will tell you the same thing about finding a special talent: When you have one, you better enjoy it while you can. Several coaches across Elmore Country got to see some of those special talents sign a letter of intent to continue athletics at the highest collegiate level.

Holtville’s Kaylyn Dismukes signed to play for Auburn softball and is the first player in the school’s history to sign with an SEC program. Elmore County’s Austin Downey, who will play baseball at Jacksonville State next season, became the program’s first Division I signing.

Wetumpka’s football team may have a few signings to come but the program was represented by two players signing for SEC schools. In February, running back Kavosiey Smoke signed with Kentucky and in December, P.J. Lucas signed to play for Ole Miss.

3. Tobias Garrison caps undefeated season with state title

Garrison grabbed his first individual state championship in his final year at Stanhope Elmore. He won the final three matches by decision to earn the state title at the 170-pound weight division in Class 6A.

Garrison finished the season with a perfect 40-0 record.

4. County rivalry games live up to the hype

There were plenty of great football games throughout the county this year but two of them stood out above the rest.

Holtville erased a 28-point deficit at Elmore County but still fell in overtime to the Panthers. Shakwan Bickley’s touchdown reception in overtime was the first of his career.

Two weeks later, Stanhope Elmore and Wetumpka got their chance to shine. The Mustangs stunned the top-ranked team in Class 6A after Marlon Hunt stripped the Wetumpka receiver and ran 85 yards for the game-winning touchdown with less than a minute to go.

5. Tallassee wins first area title in 17 years

After starting its season 6-11, Tallassee reeled off eight consecutive wins on its way to its first area title since 2001. The Tigers scored the final seven points of the championship game to knock off Dadeville and advance to the state tournament.

Despite falling in the next round to Sipsey Valley, Tallassee’s area title has set a new standard to the program. The Tigers opened this season by winning 15 of their first 16 matchups which means they have won 23 of their last 25 games.

6. DJ Patrick goes for 306 yards vs. Leeds

Patrick’s final rushing touchdown of the night may have been the least impressive but it was the most important to his team. His fifth touchdown of the game gave Elmore County its first ever win over Leeds, knocking off the Greenwave 35-28.

Patrick finished with 306 rushing yards on 19 carries. He had three rushing touchdowns of 60 or more yards in the victory. This was an individual performance that will not soon be forgotten.

7. Edgewood football coach saga

Drama has surrounded the position of head football coach at Edgewood since Bobby Carr left in 2015. When this year started, the Wildcats were looking for a replacement for coach Eric Folmar. Rusty Mason was supposed to be the man for the job but six weeks after accepting the job, Mason moved on.

With little time to prepare the struggling program for the season, athletic director and boys basketball coach Darryl Free stepped into the role. The play on the field quickly took the eyes away from the drama of who was coaching the team. The Wildcats erased a 19-game losing streak with an eight-win season and an appearance in the semifinals.

Free was also named the AISA Coach of the Year.

8. Madison Traylor scores 1,000th career point

During Elmore County’s second game of the 2018-19 season, Traylor scored a season-high 25 points but the Panthers fell to ACA to drop to 1-1 on the season. However, the focus was on a career milestone for Traylor.

After averaging 15.9 points per game during her junior season, Traylor was in position to reach 1,000 career points quickly during her final year. Her 25-point performance was enough to put her over the edge and into the Panthers’ history books.

9. Holtville makes deep run into baseball postseason

In his first season as head coach of the Bulldogs, Torey Baird led Holtville to the third round of the playoffs and finished with a 27-9 record. The Bulldogs lost only one game in area play to grab the area title.

In the postseason, Holtville swept Handley and knocked off Oak Grove on the road before falling at Andalusia to finish the season.

10. Edgewood volleyball reaches top spot in national rankings

After winning its first 12 matches of the season, the National Athletic Association of Private Schools ranked Edgewood as the No. 1 team in the country. The Wildcats continued its hot start, winning 29 matches in a row before falling in the state title game against Macon-East.

Despite the disappointing finish to the season, reaching the top spot of the national rankings is not something that happens every day and is one more thing on this team’s long list of accomplishments.