Sports in 2003

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 30, 2003

The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat. Shelby County athletes hit the ground running … and jumping and throwing in 2003. They took to the track, hit the hardcourt, ground it out on the gridiron and squared off on the diamond. They battled in gymnasiums, backyards, swimming pools and on the fields of dreams. And they did it all &045; in classic style.

Here are some of the top sports moments from this past year.

Editor’s note: January through September were covered in the last two editions of the Reporter.


Pelham used passes to receiver Montez Billings to open up the running game against Chelsea, rushing for 194 yards on 45 carries in the Panthers win over the Hornets, 28-7.

Billings had 7 receptions for 114 yards in the contest, preventing the Chelsea defense from sighting in on Pelham’s running backs, led by Drew Burleson.

Burleson responded with 90 yards on 18 attempts including touchdowns runs of 1 and 5 yards.

A pesky bunch of Yellow Jackets from Vincent paid a call to the Shelby County Wildcats but received a cool reception as the Region 5, Class 4A Wildcats celebrated homecoming with a 42-19 win over their shell-shocked Region 6, Class 2A visitors.

Shelby County jumped out to a 21-6 lead in the first quarter and coasted to victory leading 35-13 at the half.

For the second week in a row, the 5-0 overall, 3-0 in regional play, Shelby Academy Raiders handed out an old-fashioned woodshed whipping.

After downing Coosa Valley Academy 47-0 at home the previous week, the Raiders went on the road and dumped the Cornerstone Christian Chargers 48-0.

The Montevallo Bulldogs finally got a few breaks and snapped a three-game losing skid with a 20-12 victory over visiting Chilton County.

The Kingwood Lions hosted the Glenwood Gators in AISA, 3A action.

The Gators beat Kingwood, 57-0, behind a relentless running attack.

The Chelsea Hornets rushed for nearly 300 yards and held the Montevallo offense in check to defeat their region rivals, 33-12.

The Calera Eagles clinched a playoff berth with their win on the road against region opponent Keith High School.

The Eagles (6-0) defeated Keith, 29-16, to guarantee a playoff appearance for the second year in a row.

The Oak Mountain Eagles relied on the arm and the legs of sophomore quarterback Trent McKnight to knock off the Hewitt-Trussville Huskies.

Freshman kicker Jordan Means kicked three fourth quarter field goals to help Pelham edge Clay-Chalkville, 16-14.

The Panthers (4-2) scored their only touchdown on the night during the first half on a 39-yard touchdown pass from Chase Armstrong to running back Drew Burleson.

The Thompson Warriors hung in there with Class 5A No. 1 Homewood, eventually falling in overtime, 44-38.

The Chelsea Hornets made a strong statement in their run for a playoff spot, beating Corner, 31-24, and picking up their fourth region victory.

The Oak Mountain Eagles kept their playoff hopes alive with a 13-7 win over John Carroll Catholic.

The Eagles (4-3 overall) moved into a four-way tie for third place in Class 6A, Region 6 with their first region victory of the season.

Dane Vansant threw two touchdown passes &045; one to Brandon Burns and one to Drew Holsomback &045; to lead the Shelby County Wildcats to their sixth straight win.

Montevallo got a 150-yard rushing performance from A.J. Ward and put up another stellar defensive effort to shut out Hayden 9-0, picking up its first region win of the year.

Thompson running back Eric Bogan rushed for 154 yards and 3 touchdowns in the Warriors win over West End. Bogan scored on runs of 2, 15 and 2 yards.


If a big rivalry win and possession of the Cotton Cup trophy weren’t incentive enough, the stakes were raised for the matchup between Coosa Valley Academy and Cornerstone Christian School as the game involved playoff implications for both teams.

The Chargers won the lopsided contest, 31-0, improving to a No. 3 seed in the AISA playoffs and ending the Rebels’ season by handing them their fourth Class A, Region II loss.

Mountain Brook was heavily favored, but Pelham played the Spartans to the wire in a 49-41 shootout that ended in a Panthers loss.

Pelham finished the season at 4-6 overall and tied for last place in Class 6A, Region 6 with Oak Mountain.

Thompson High School couldn’t overpower the defending state champions, losing to Huntsville in the Class 5A state volleyball tournament, 25-13, 25-15, 25-22.

Thompson finished the season as the second place team in Class 5A.

The Warriors were led by Pamela Cartagena who had 74 kills, 13 blocks, 116 digs and 16 aces.

Good defense and a controlled offense won the last regular season game for the Thompson Warriors.

With the win, the 5A Warriors finished the 2003 season with five wins and five losses.

The 6A Oak Mountain Eagles finished their season with four wins, six losses.

Midfield may have handed the Montevallo Bulldogs their worst loss of a 3-7 season, but coach Jim King’s squad has to be encouraged by what the future holds.

For starters, sophomore running back A.J. Ward’s 94 yards rushing in the 59-14 loss put him over the 1,000-yard plateau for the season, a rare feat for a player in his first full varsity season at MHS.

Counting pass receptions and return yardage, Ward contributed more than 1,400 yards to the Bulldogs in 2003.

Riverchase won all seven of its matches in the seventh grade tournament, beating Pizitz Middle School in the finals for the Metro South Championship.

Shelby County High School fell for the first time since losing the Aug. 29 opener with Tarrant.

The Wildcats had won eight straight games before falling to Saks 21-14 on the road.

Shelby County was limited to 166 total yards in the contest.

Shelby Academy (9-1) finished the regular season with a 47-0 victory over an outmanned Kingwood (0-10) squad. The win gave the Raiders their sixth shutout of the year.

Briarwood Christian School didn’t take long to get back on track after a disappointing loss to top-ranked Homewood two weeks prior.

The Lions made quick work of their next opponent, defeating Athens at home, 31-8.

The Chelsea Hornets rushed for 330 yards, defeating Central-Coosa at home 35-7 while picking up their fifth straight win to close the regular season.

Josh Hamner, a 16-year-old junior at Chelsea High School, competed in the Pro Late Model Division at various tracks throughout the southeast.

Hamner picked up his first win in only 12 starts at the historic, half-mile track in Montgomery.

Shelby County’s postseason chances appeared to be slipping away until Dane Vansant connected with Brandon Burns twice in the fourth quarter.

The late-game heroics led the Wildcats to a 21-20 comeback victory over Haleyville.

Turnovers and a breakdown in special-teams play proved costly for the Calera Eagles, who fell to Slocomb 41-13, ending their season with a 8-3 record.

Shelby Academy running back Ryan Elm (5) rushed for 239 yards on 22 carries in the Raiders’ win against Autauga.

Elm scored twice, including a 79-yard burst on the first play from scrimmage.

His second score came in the fourth quarter on a 3-yard run. The Shelby Academy won 27-0.

Briarwood Christian School used a balanced offensive attack to move past Williamson in the Lions’ first-round playoff game. The Lions averaged nearly six yards per play while gaining 168 yards on the ground and 141 through the air in the 36-22 win.

Chelsea’s season ended when the Hornets came just short on a 2-point conversion attempt and a failed onside kick, losing to Brooks High School 14-12.

&uot;It was a tough loss,&uot; said Chelsea coach Watt Parker. &uot;We were very evenly matched.

Cornerstone Christian School made the playoffs for the first time in school history, but the Chargers’ postseason run ended with a first-round loss to Lakeside.

Briarwood Christian’s Simeon Castille carried nine times for 72 yards and a touchdown against Eufaula. The Lions handed the Tigers their first loss of the season with the 34-7 win. Castille also intercepted a pass, setting up a Briarwood touchdown in the first half.

Four football players and a coach were selected to represent Shelby County teams in the Alabama Independent School Association’s East and West All-Star Game.

Shelby County watched as Boaz squashed a potential game-winning drive, intercepting a Dane Vansant pass late in the fourth quarter and ending the Wildcats’ season.

Boaz took a knee to run the remaining seconds off the clock and win the second-round, Class 4A playoff game, 21-17.

In what turned out to be a pretty feisty contest, the Alabama Slammers dropped the first game in franchise history Nov. 7, as Chris Harper’s two goals led the Jacksonville Barracudas past the Slammers 5-2 in front of a sold out crowd at the Pelham Civic Complex.

Jackson Academy proved why it entered the season as the favorite to win the AISA, Class 1A state championship, claiming a second straight title with a decisive victory over Shelby Academy.

The Eagles proved too fast and too powerful for the Raiders, who fell to the defending champs 42-8.

The Briarwood Lions set up a rematch with region-rival Homewood by claiming a narrow victory over B.C. Rain in the Class 5A quarterfinals.

Briarwood (11-2) advanced to the AHSAA, 5A semifinals with the 13-12 win.

Coosa Valley Academy head football coach and athletic director Jim Stomps announced his resignation.

Stomps said he had accepted a position at Independent Methodist School in Mobile where he will serve as head football coach.


Simeon Castille set the tone &045; returning the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown &045; and his Briarwood Christian teammates followed suit, dominating the Homewood Patriots in the Class 5A semifinal.

The Lions earned a trip to Birmingham’s Legion Field for the Super Six state championships with the 34-7 win.

Briarwood controlled all phases of the game, holding the Patriots to 148 yards of total offense while rolling up 264 yards behind quarterback Joe Craddock.

The boys basketball team at Oak Mountain High School entered December undefeated, starting with a 5-0 record after a win against Chelsea in the Thompson Holiday Classic.

It was announced that Toney Pugh would no longer serve as head football coach and athletic director at Oak Mountain High School, according to OMHS principal Randy Fuller, who said the school would &uot;move in a new direction&uot; in regard to the two positions.

More than 10,000 fans braved temperatures in the 30s to watch the Briarwood Christian Lions claim the AHSAA Class 5A state championship at Birmingham’s Legion Field.

The Lions capped off their 13-2 season with a dominating 31-7 victory against the Russellville Golden Tigers (13-2).

Senior Briarwood quarterback Joe Craddock was named Most Valuable Player in the Class 5A state championship game. Craddock passed for 152 yards and 2 touchdowns and rushed for 87 yards and another score as the Lions claimed a 31-7 victory.

Six Oak Mountain wrestlers placed in their respective weight divisions as the Eagles claimed second place in the Panther Classic at Pelham High School.

Fifteen teams from across the state and one from Tennessee participated in the tournament.

Coming off three straight losses and a 10-day layoff, the Montevallo High School Lady Bulldogs were eager to get back to work in Susie DeMent gymnasium.

Coach Tena Niven’s squad took advantage of the return to the court, knocking off the Vincent Lady Yellow Jackets 51-29 to improve to 2-3 on the year.

Briarwood’s Simeon Castille was

named to two high school football All-American teams as a defensive back.

A 7-0 start earned Kingwood Christian School’s girls basketball team a No. 7 ranking in the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s poll.

Kingwood claimed the No. 1 ranking by the holiday break.

Calera basketball coach Robert Burdette picked up his 400th career win as the Eagles routed Horseshoe Bend at home, 88-26.

Burdette, however, was reluctant to focus on the milestone victory, turning the attention instead to his team.

After considering several options and consulting various studies during the past few years, state officials announced their plans to coordinate an archery hunt in an effort to control the growing deer population at Oak Mountain State Park.

The near 10,000-acre park has become increasingly surrounded by development in recent years, eliminating surrounding deer habitat and causing the area to become &uot;way overpopulated,&uot; said Barnett Lawley, commissioner of Alabama’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources