By Erik Harris
North Jefferson News
Fultondale started a four-game region stretch off with a 46-0 thrashing of Pleasant Valley Friday night.
The Cats were propelled by big plays on both sides of the ball, and many of them were demonstrated by a pair of brothers.
ArDarius Stewart, the senior do-it-all athlete and Alabama commitment, and his freshman brother Jared who can be spotted carrying big brother’s headgear around for him, nearly blinded those in attendance with their flashy play.
“I played offense tonight and I looked to [Jared] to make plays on defense, and he did a pretty good job,” said ArDarius.
“I love seeing him make big plays and he loves seeing me make big plays,” said Jared.
ArDarius did his work on the offensive side of the ball with five touchdowns on the night, three rushing and two passing. His first score came on Fultondale’s first possession and capped off an 80-yard drive. He found Kris Lewis with a 25-yard touchdown pass that put the Cats up 6-0.
On Fultondale’s following drive, ArDarius connected with Lewis again, this time from 55 yards out with a pass that could have easily been mistaken for a Tom Brady bomb.
Then ArDarius and Lewis switched roles on the Wildcats’ third drive. Lewis barked out the cadence, took the snap from center and tossed the ball out to his quarterback, who found the edge and put 30 yards behind him before the fans could apply their shades.
After putting 19 points on the board in the first quarter, Fultondale failed to score for the remainder of the half. Most of that can be credited to Pleasant Valley’s offense, who dominated time of possession in the second quarter.
Early in the third quarter Jared set his big brother up with good field position, after his leaping interception on the home sideline. Gravity seemed to be caught off duty when Jared soared through the air to snatch the ball and put the Wildcat offense back on the field.
“I don’t know how he made that [pick],” said ArDarius. “I think it’s because of those drills in practice.”
Six plays later, ArDarius mad the score 25-0 as he maneuvered down the left sideline for a 16-yard touchdown rush.
The Raiders (2-4, 2-2 region) found themselves in double trouble late in the third quarter. ArDarius Stewart put his little brother in motion slightly before the snap, lured the defense outside with a fake speed sweep and exploded into the end zone from the 12 yard-line, increasing the lead to 32-0 heading into the final quarter.
Late in the game, Dante Stanley darted 41 yards to the end zone, followed by Brandon Lewis finding paydirt from 30 yards out.
Fultondale’s defense proved very capable of protecting the 46-point lead. The Cats held Valley to only 192 yards of total offense, 118 rushing and 74 passing. On the other hand, Fultondale churned out 503 yards on the night — 360 rushing and 143 through the air. The Raiders were able to move the chains 16 times, only three fewer first downs than Fultondale.
The Wildcat defense was led by Julian Hardy and his 15 tackles. John Chaney provided his secondary with a devastating pass-rush that helped them record two interceptions, including one by by Derrick Houston. Chaney sniffed out three sacks.
ArDarius Stewart ran nine times for 41 yards and three touchdowns. He completed seven of his 12 passes for 143 yards and two scores. His favorite target was Kris Lewis, with three receptions for 97 yards and two touchdowns.
Stanley averaged better than 14 yards per rush, as he gained 86 yards on only six carries.
“We went through a rough period of two losses and we’ve all come together,” said Fultondale head coach Keith Register. “It’s one of those things where we want to get better.”
The Wildcats (4-2, 2-2 region) face a tough region foe next week as they travel to Vincent.