Slow start

Shelby County teams, by and large, had slow starts to the 2003 season, with half of the 14 teams coming away with losses.

The biggest surprise might not have been that No. 2-ranked, Class 5A Briarwood lost to 6A Vestavia, but that the Lions managed to find the end zone only once. Thompson had a rough go of it in game No. 1 of the 2003 season, fumbling away a chance to defeat 6A Pelham.

This week may not be much different, as many area teams begin region play. My record last week was a disappointing 6-5.

Briarwood opens region play with a tough game on the road against Jess Lanier. Lanier nearly beat 6A Huffman last week. Hopefully, the offensive bugs will be worked out for the Lions by Friday. BCS 21, Lanier 20.

Calera used an impressive ground game to beat Verbena 28-6 last week. Friday, the Eagles begin region play by hosting Billingsley. While Billingsley is no Verbena, look for CHS to go to 2-0 on the season. CHS 20, Billingsley 14.

Coosa Valley ran into a tough 2A Springwood team on the road last week. Coach Jim Stomps’ team travels to West Alabama Prep this week, a team which lost by 34 to Marengo a week ago. CVA 28, West Ala. 7.

Cornerstone let one slip away last week against Chambers. The road doesn’t get any easier, as the Chargers travel to Warrior, a one-point loser to Sumter last week. Although CCS may iron out the wrinkles this week in practice, Warrior may be a little angry. Warrior 28, CCS 14.

Chelsea opens area play with Hayden on the road, a team which the Hornets defeated a year ago. Hayden lost to 3A Locust Fork by 11 last week. CHS head coach Watt Parker will have the troops rallied. Chelsea 28, Hayden 7.

Kingwood gets the undaunting task of playing defending 3A state champ Bessemer on the road this week. The Lions lost by 66 last week and fumbled 10 times. It won’t be any better this go around. BA 56, Kingwood 7.

The showdown this week may be in Montevallo when Childersburg comes to town. MHS held on for a 14-13 win over Leeds last week while Childersburg stomped B.B. Comer by 38. Montevallo needs this one, but CHS may be too strong. CHS 28, MHS 24.

Hewitt-Trussville comes calling at Pelham Friday night as the Panthers open Class 6A play. Trussville looked strong last week with a 34-27 win over Gardendale, while Pelham used some costly turnovers to defeat 5A Thompson. Hewitt, if they hold on to the ball, should win this one. HTHS 35, PHS 21.

Shelby Academy opened the 2003 season with a win over a weak Evangel team. This week SA takes a 45-minute ride to Marion Military Institute. MMI is a mystery every year because rarely do the same players stay at the school very long. SA should find a way to pull this one out, however. SA 28, MMI 20.

Oak Mountain barely came back to defeat Fairfield last week, and I’m sure the lackluster play didn’t make OMHS head coach Toney Pugh too happy. This week 6A Bob Jones will be in town fresh off a 39-21 win over Lee-Huntsville. Let’s give the Eagles another chance to shine this week. OMHS 35, BJHS 31.

Shelby County lost to a very good 3A Tarrant team a week ago. While those games may not matter in the long run of the 4A playoffs, it may tend to wear on the mind of the Wildcat players. SCHS head coach Geoff Walters, I’m sure, has pointed out last week’s mistakes time and time again to be ready for Moody this week. SCHS 28, Moody 10.

Jackson-Olin got whipped last week by Parker. And when I say whipped, I mean the 64-7 fashion. They now get to play host to a Thompson team which is reeling from last week’s meltdown against Pelham. It could get ugly for Jackson-Olin again this week. THS 35, JOHS 7.

Westbrook Christian comes to Vincent to get the Yellow Jackets’ region play under way. Westbrook was a playoff qualifier last season (barely). VHS is improved from a year ago, and we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. VHS 21, Westbrook 20.

Austin comes to Spain Park this week fresh off an overtime win over a tough 5A Hartselle team. Spain Park put a good whipping on Gadsden last Friday night. This will be one of the best in town. SPHS 28, Austin 27