Overtime goal gives Spartans first football state title

HUNTSVILLE – A state championship is long overdue for the Mountain Brook High School men’s soccer program.

The moment came on Saturday, as the Spartans won a thriller, 2-1 in overtime over Pelham, to win the Class 6A state title.

“It means a lot to these guys,” said Mountain Brook head coach Joe Webb, who completed his 26th season as head coach this spring.

Pelham’s Cleber Esquivel scored in the 17th minute of the game and it looked like it could last the full time as it was under 10 minutes to play in regulation time.

But Mountain Brook never gave up, with Vance Phillips managing to score in the final minutes to tie the game at 1-1.

“We’ve been fighting like this all year,” Webb said. “We are relentless. I was just worried that one goal would last the whole game.

In the extra period, Phillips struck again. With just over a minute left in extra time, Phillips found himself in the box once again, putting one in the back of the net in the middle of a scramble. Phillips is a natural defender, but Webb had the idea to bring him forward this season. It’s safe to say the move paid off.

“It was just scrappy goals,” Phillips said, moments after collecting his MVP trophy.

Mountain Brook scored twice in the second half to beat Fort Payne 2-0 in Friday’s semifinal. The game was scoreless until the 52nd minute, when Jack Heaps broke the seal and scored a pass from Henry Tabb. Finn Calloway scored in the 66th minute to give the Spartans a 2-0 lead.

The Spartans controlled much of the contest, beating Fort Payne 21-7 for the game. Mountain Brook keeper Reed Harradine was only asked to make three saves in the semifinals and three more in the final.

Pelham beat McGill-Toolen 1-0 on Friday in the semifinals.

Webb took off his Nike tennis shoes after the championship game, remembering what happened after the Spartans’ victory over Homewood in the quarter-finals.

“After the game against Homewood, they sprayed me,” he said. “It took a lot of bleach to get them back. They still have Powerade in them.

This time he made sure his shoes were out of the way as a few of his players reached him with a blue Powerade cooler. Both of Webb’s sons have won state titles at Oak Mountain. His players told him it was his turn this year.

“We weren’t going to let anything get in our way,” Phillips said.

Mountain Brook capped off its dominant season with a 25-2-2 record. The Spartans dominated Jasper and Pinson Valley in the first two rounds of the playoffs before defeating Homewood in the quarterfinals.

Austin Davis, Camden Hemstreet, Cole Knight, Joe Armstrong and Ryan Diamond were the seniors on the team.

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