SCHS clinches Class 4A, Region 5 crown with win

The Shelby County Wildcats are champions of Class 4A Region 5 high school football in Alabama as a result of their 17-14 victory over Childersburg at home last Friday night.

In this renewal of an old-time rivalry on senior night between the Wildcats and the Tigers from Childersburg,

the difference in the game ultimately came down to the foot of diminutive freshman Wildcat kicker Eric Hernandez.

Hernandez

booted a 31-yard field goal that put Shelby County comfortably in front

17-7 at the 8:57 mark of the fourth quarter. But with two seconds left in the gave, the Tigers had cut the lead to 17-14 and

were threatening from the Wildcat 29-yard line.

A

desperation touchdown pass attempt by Childersburg senior quarterback Steven Harrison fell incomplete, however, and the Wildcats escaped with the victory and the region crown. And to no one’s surprise,

it was the mighty mite with the gold foot, Hernandez, the Wildcats lifted in victorious celebration.

&uot;What a blessing to have a kicker,&uot; said a happy SCHS head football coach Geoff Walters. He said Hernandez moved to Columbiana from Mexico and had never kicked a football before last April. Walters said when Hernandez was attempting a field goal, he asked if the ball was supposed to go &uot;over or under.&uot;

Also helping Shelby County to claim the regional crown last Friday night was Jemison, which defeated Chelsea 31-14. The

win over Childersburg improved the Wildcats’ record to 6-2, while losses last Friday dropped Childersburg and Chelsea to 5-3 each.

Childersburg out passed the Wildcats 95 yards

to 67 yards. But the Wildcats out rushed the visitors 222 yards to 174 yards and made one more first down 10 to 9.

Turnovers were even at three each. But penalties were seven for 60 against SCHS and three for 35 against Childersburg.

Childersburg’s

Arterrius Jones put the Tigers on top early with a 6-yard run. And

David Uselton added the point after to make it 7-0 at the 3:45 mark of the first quarter.

But the Wildcats closed the gap to 7-6 by the end of the first half on 1-yard scamper by Mark Lemley with 2:01 left in the second quarter.

And despite a blocked

extra point against the Wildcats, the momentum of the contest was about to change in favor of the home team.

Childersburg had moved to the Shelby County 34-yard line as the first half was about to end.

But Wildcat Derek Harris stepped up to pick off a Harrison pass and nearly returned it all the way for a touchdown.

Walters said later he felt that was one of those times when he felt the momentum swing in favor of the Wildcats.

He said Harris was two stumbles away from a score and that in the locker room at the half, his players were &uot;excited.&uot;

After holding the Tigers on their initial series of the third quarter, Shelby County wasted little time in taking in putting that excitement to good use and took the lead for good.

Harris, who had almost scored at the end of the half, raced 63 yards on the first play from scrimmage to put the Wildcats up 12-7.

Quarterback Nick Jones then hit Jonathan Talley for the 2-point conversion, and the Wildcats led 14-7 with just over nine minutes left in the quarter.

A costly Tiger fumble led to a 31-yard field goal by Hernandez. And with 8:57 left in the contest, the Wildcats led 17-7. But the 10 point lead would not last long.

A good kickoff return by Childersburg’s Cordarryl Nettles and a personal foul penalty against

Shelby County put the Tigers in business at the Wildcat 38-yard line.

Then on a third-and-12 play, Harrison hit Nettles for a 40-yard touchdown strike. Uselton added the point after, and the Wildcat lead was cut to 17-14 with 8:00 left in the game.

The Tigers would get one last chance to steal the contest from the homestanding Wildcats, but on a third-and-10 play from the Wildcat 29-yard line with two ticks left on the scoreboard clock, a Harrison pass fell incomplete. That mean it

was regional championship time for Shelby County.

Walters knew that with the win over Childersburg and a loss by Chelsea his team would put his team

in first place in the region. But he said he wasn’t worried about the region, but his own team’s improvement and elimination of mistakes