Sep. 18—OHATCHEE — Saks went O-fer for the gauntlet of Piedmont, Wellborn and Ohatchee a year ago. Make it 2-fer a year later.
Sean Parnell accounted for 158 of the Wildcats' 195 total yards, scored two touchdowns and threw for two conversions as they beat Ohatchee 16-7 in Friday's key Class 3A, Region 5 game on The Creekbank on Friday.
Saks emerged 4-1 overall, 2-1 in region play and a solid second place. Unbeaten Piedmont, which beat Saks two weeks ago, leads the way, but Saks gained the head-to-head tiebreaker on Ohatchee (2-3, 2-1).
Saks beat Wellborn a week ago, and the remaining region schedule for the Wildcats features the region's bottom half ... Hokes Bluff, Weaver, Pleasant Valley and Glencoe.
"We obviously would've liked to have gotten all three, but we got two of the three," Saks coach Jonathan Miller said. "We can't relax."
Saks rebounded from its 0-3 swoon through the gauntlett a year ago to win seven games in a row, including two playoff games.
"The key for us last year, once we got through this stretch, we got much, much better as the season went on," Miller said. "We've got to continue to improve.
"Even though we've got two of these three, we've got to keep getting better."
Parnell led the way Friday, completing 7 of 9 passses for 83 yards, including conversion passes to Rickey Garrett and Jalen McCants. Parnell's 75 rushing yards included touchdown runs of 1 yard in the second quarter and 5 yards in third.
Parnell helped the Wildcats overcome Ohatchee quarterback Eli Ennis' 195-yard rushing performance, which included his 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to cap a 15-play, 91-yard drive and put the Indians up 7-0.
Ohatchee played the game without eighth-year head coach Scott Martin, who is on what Calhoun County superintendent Donald Turner Jr. termed "administrative leave" pending an "internal matter."
Martin is 59-27 at Ohatchee, 54-12 over the past six seasons. That included four seasons with double-digit wins in five years, Ohatchee's best such stretch since mounting five seasons of double-digit wins in seven years between 1974-80.
Ohatchee assistant coach Chris Findley served as acting head coach. Through Ohatchee assistant principal Michael Graham, the Indians declined postgame interviews.
Ohatchee stopped Saks' first possession at the Indians' 9-yard line before mounting a 91-yard scoring drive, but Saks answered with a 70-yard drive for Parnell's 1-yard touchdown run.
Add his conversion pass to Garrett, and the Wildcats took the lead for good at 8-7 at 2:55 of the second quarter.
Saks opened the third quarter with a 13-play, 65-yard drive, ending in Parnell's 5-yard touchdown run and conversion pass to McCants to round out the scoring.
"I feel like this was a big step from last year," Parnell said. "Last year, we lost all three games, and it was like a drought, and it helped us for the next stretch that we won seven games.
"We didn't want to lose no more, so it's good, but it can be bad at the same time. I don't want my team to be big-headed or something like that."
Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.