Series ownership:Shelby County mounts fourth quarter drive for eighth straight over Chelsea

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 7, 2006

The scoreboard at Papa McCombs Stadium in Columbiana twinkled 21-17, as a low chant from the crowd began,

&8220;We own Chelsea,&8221; just after an incomplete Chelsea pass to the end zone ended a hard fought rivalry game between the Shelby County Wildcats and the Chelsea Hornets last Friday night.

Absent the county&8217;s leading rusher, Davin Palmer with nearly 1,780 yards. Without him, the Hornets fell to the Wildcats for the eighth year in a row.

The star rusher of the game turned out to be Shelby County&8217;s Darion Sutton, with 150 yards and two touchdowns.

This was a rivalry with deep roots between two playoff bound 5A football teams.

Chelsea was expected to bring its powerful running attack led by Palmer. And on paper, it looked like this would be Chelsea&8217;s year to shine.

But earlier in the week Chelsea head football coach Wade Waldrop confirmed Palmer would not only not play against Shelby County, but Palmer had been suspended from the team for breaking team rules for the rest of the season.

Chelsea (8-2, 7-0) was coming off a huge victory over Briarwood to win the 5A Region 5 title.

Shelby County (7-3, 5-2) was coming off a 50-18 win over Wilcox Central.

Stepping up to take Palmer&8217;s place for the Hornets were Austin Vinsant and Brett Hancock.

But in the face of the Wildcats&8217; defense they gained a total of 95 of their team&8217;s 159 yards on the ground.

Chelsea quarterback Coty McLaughlin completed nine of 11 passes for 75 yards through the air and carried the ball nine times for 28 yards as the Hornets compiled 234 yards total offense.

In addition to Sutton&8217;s standout performance for the Wildcats, Kevin Stafford added another 50 yards on 12 carries for Shelby County on the ground.

The Wildcats netted 205 yards on the ground and 18 yards passing for 223 yards total offense.

Fortune favored the Wildcats.

On a third down and 12 play at their own 33-yard line, a Hornets&8217; fumble was recovered by Shelby County.

Moments later, quarterback Aaron Howard scored on a 6-yard keeper, and Jose Albarran added the PAT for a 7-0 lead.

Chelsea would respond about three minutes later on a 1-yard plunge by David Strider and Matt Jordan PAT.

The battle raged on until the 2:54 mark of the second quarter when Sutton scored from 3 yards out. And the Wildcats celebrated a 14-7 lead at the half.

Chelsea would answer in the third quarter when Vincent scored from 3 yards out.

The Hornets would grab their only lead of the night on a 27-yard Jordan field goal at the 7:41 mark of the fourth quarter.

But with 43 second left in the game, the Wildcats&8217; Sutton broke into the end zone from the 6-inch line. The PAT made it a 24-17 contest, and the Wildcats held on for the win.

Having driven to Wildcat&8217;s 21-yard line, everything came down to last ditch touchdown pass for the Hornets that fell incomplete in the end zone.

Shelby County head football coach Ryan Herring summed the contest up saying, &8220;We just somehow fortunately ended up on top … We didn&8217;t whip them. They didn&8217;t whip us. It was just a great ball game … a great rivalry game. That&8217;s what Alabama football is all about.&8221;

Herring praised assistant coach Heath Childers, his offensive line and the backs who run behind them.

Chelsea head football coach Wade Waldrop said, &8220;Shelby County controlled the tempo of the football game all night.&8221; While he said he thought his kids did a good job of responding in the second half, he said the Wildcats &8220;made every play they had to make down the stretch to win the football game.&8221;

The Hornets next host J.O. Johnson, and the Wildcats host Valley in the first round of the state 5A playoffs.