AUBURN – Lanett High School senior Kristian Story closed out his prep career much like it started – helping the Panthers win a state football championship. Story accounted for 359 total yards and four touchdowns Thursday afternoon as Lanett downed defending state champion Mars Hill Bible 41-30 in the Super 7 Class 1A finals at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The victory snapped Mars Hill’s school-record 24-game winning streak and was Lanett’s second state title in school history.
Story was magnificent all day as Lanett and Mars Hill Bible battled nose-to-nose in four exciting quarters of football. He answered Mars Hill’s opening TD, a 1-yard run by Justus McDaniel midway through the first period, with a 28-yard TD pass to Travaunta Abner at 4:12 in the first quarter. Peyton Higgins, who scored a 2-point conversion after the first Mars Hill TD, capped a quick 63-yard, five play drive two minutes later with an 8-yard TD run as the Panthers took a 16-7 lead. Coach Clifford Story’s Lanett Panthers needed only 1:22 to score its second TD, a 3-yard run by D’Quez Madden, and Mars Hill led 16-13 at the first-quarter break.
Lanett took the lead 20-16 at 7:53 in the second period when Brandon Smith scored on a 6-yard run. Mars Hill, coached by Darrell Higgins, tacked on a 20-yard TD run by McDaniel four minutes later to take a 22-20 lead in at halftime.
Story took over in the second half scoring on a 2-yard run and tossing the 2-point conversion pass to Jaquarius Houston as Lanett moved into the lead again 28-22. He broke loose down the left sideline on a dazzling 52-yard TD run later in the third quarter as the Panthers surged ahead 34-22. McDaniel got his third touchdown early in the fourth period on a 1-yard run as Mars Hill pulled closer trailing 34-30. Story’s 30-yard TD pass to Houston three plays later closed the scoring leading 41-30. Story made an interception on defense late in the final quarter, the 29th pick of his prep career, to seal the win.
The senior quarterback finished with 110 yards rushing on 13 carries with two touchdowns and was 18-of-23 passing for 249 yards and two more scores to earn Class 1A State Championship MVP honors. He finished his senior season 162-of-237 passing for 2,865 yards and 33 touchdowns. He also had 1,151 yards rushing on 116 carries and 17 touchdowns. He finished his prep career as the AHSAA record holder in total offense and touchdowns account for. He accumulated 13,218 total yards with 9,070 passing, 3,618 rushing and 530 receiving from 2016-19 and accounted for 175 touchdowns (119 passing, 48 rushing and 8 receiving).
Story’s totals broke records set by Bo Nix of Pinson Valley from 2015-18 (12,497 total yards and 161 TDs accounted for). Story’s 9,070 career passing yards ranks eighth all time and his 119 TD passes ranks third.
He spread his passes around Thursday with Abner, Larontavious Hurston and Houston hauling in five catches each. Lanett finished with 402 total yards.
Mars Hill’s offense, which had 300 yards rushing and 121 passing for 421 total yards, was led by McDaniel, who had 157 yards rushing on 23 carries and three TDs. Higgins had 22 carries for 115 yards and one TD and had one reception for 29 yards. Quarterback Griffin Hanson was 9-of-16 passing for 121 yards.
On defense, Hunter Kilpatrick had seven tackles for Mars Hill and Dametrious Johnson had eight solos and eight assists. Story finished with nine tackles.