Season opens with ChHS-VHS

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Shelby County’s high school football season officially begins tomorrow night with a showdown between Vincent and Chelsea at Harold Garrett Field in Vincent.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

Chelsea won last year’s opener between the two schools in a 35-6 victory on its way to an 8-3 season. The Hornets earned a playoff appearance in Class 4A, where they fell to Brooks, 12-14.

Vincent struggled, finishing with a 1-9 record in Class 2A.

In other action:

* Calera travels to Theron Fisher Stadium to take on the Montevallo Bulldogs. Last season, the Eagles compiled an 8-3 record on their way to the 2A State Playoffs.

Ninth-year head coach Ken Adams hopes his Eagles, led by tailback T.J. Green, can overcome the home Dawgs. Second-year Bulldog head coach Jim King believes his tailback, 1,000-yard rusher A.J. Ward, can be just as effective.

* Defending 5A state champion Briarwood Christian hosts 6A powerhouse Vestavia Hills in what looks to be one of the state’s best matchups. Last season, the Lions dropped the opener against Vestavia 28-7.

After the loss to the Rebels, the Lions only lost one more game on their way to their third state championship since joining the AHSAA. Even with the loss of Simeon Castille, who now plays for Alabama, the Lions return Andy Davis, who had 103 tackles last season, and the large, highly touted Charles Hoke at receiver.

* Shelby County High will travel to Walter Welborn in what looks to be a great match up. Last season, head coach Geoff Walters, who now coaches at Sylacauga, led the Wildcats to a second-round appearance in the state playoffs before being upended by Boaz, 21-17. First-year head coach Bruce Breland hopes he can continue the Wildcats’ winning ways in Shelby County’s first season in 5A.

* In last season’s opener against Fairfield, the Oak Mountain Eagles struggled, barely escaping with the 24-20 victory. This season, first year head coach Jerry Hood hopes to take the Eagles to a new level after former head coach Tony Pugh headed to crosstown Spain Park as an assistant. The Eagles are led by 1,000-yard passer Trent McKnight in what looks to be an explosive offense. The offense may have a different style, but Hood hopes the Eagles can finish off Fairfield early.

* One of Tuscaloosa’s newest schools, Paul Bryant High, travels to Pelham to take on Sammy Queen’s Panthers. Last season, the Panthers struggled late, losing their last four games. This season, with wide receiver Montez Billings receiving not only passes but national acclaim, coach Queen hopes the Panthers can spread the ball out and get it into the hands of Billings more often.

* In a rare trip down south, the Spain Park Jaguars travel to the Plains to take on Auburn High. Third-year head coach Vince DeLorenzo returns a solid offensive backfield in quarterback Neil Caudle, who passed for 1,241 yards last season while also rushing for 663 yards. The double threat Caudle poses will give the Tigers all they can handle.

* Since the redistricting of the school systems in Tuscaloosa, Central of Tuscaloosa has not seen the prominence it once enjoyed. This Friday, the Thompson Warriors will travel to Tuscaloosa to take on Central in what looks to be a grudge match. Last season, the Warriors struggled to a mediocre 5-5 record, while only losing one of those games by more than 10 points. Sixteen-year head coach Ricky Seale is excited about his team’s defense, anchored by Justin Griffen who had 121 tackles and 6 sacks last season.

* In AISA action, Cornerstone Christian travels to Sumter for the Chargers’ first area action. Last season, fifth-year head coach Tim Smith led the Chargers to the playoffs, before being knocked out in the first round. With the return of team-leading tackler and rusher Jamal Prentice, Smith knows this season could be special.

* The Shelby Academy Raiders came oh-so-close to claiming a state championship last year. This season, 24th-year head coach Dewayne Kervin knows his team must have a good showing when the Raiders travel to Warrior in area action. Last season, the Raiders upended Warrior, 26-7, on their way to the state championship game.

* The Coosa Valley Rebels enter this season with a new coach and a new attitude. After finishing the 2003 season 5-5, first-year head coach Tommy Garrett looks to take his Rebels to area Taylor Road to open the 2004 season with a win. Last season, the Rebels dropped their opener to Springwood, 24-0.

* When sixth-year head coach Jerry Stearns led his Kingwood Christian Lions into the 2003 season, he never thought his team would be shut out in eight of their 10 games. After finishing the 2003 0-10, Stearns knows his team has only one way to go: up.

The Lions open their season traveling to Lee-Scott in what looks to be a challenge for Kingwood. Sophomore Andrew Pearce has grown since starting last season as a freshman and hopes to lead his Lions into battle