Week 11 preview: County clash sets title run

FROM STAFF REPORTS

The AISA playoffs began last week with three of Shelby County’s four teams advancing to the postseason. Kingwood saw its season come to an end at Marengo, but Shelby Academy knocked off undefeated Crenshaw Christian and Cornerstone dominated East Memorial to set up a Shelby-Cornerstone rematch this Friday night in Columbiana.

The Chargers got the best of the Raiders earlier in the season for the first time in school history, but Shelby Academy is riding high following Friday’s huge upset of the Crenshaw Christian Academy Cougars.

While the in-county angle makes this game interesting, the head coaches make it that much better.

Shelby Academy head coach Shannon Jones spent several years as an assistant under Cornerstone head coach Tim Smith’s, so the two coaches are no strangers to other’s schemes.

Both Cornerstone and Shelby Academy rely heavily on the running game, but the Chargers are three dimensional with three big-time backs.

If the Raiders can’t slow down the Charger rushing attack, the dreams of defending the state championship will come to an end.

JAGS READY TO RETURN HOME

For the first time in almost a month, the Spain Park Jaguars will return to play at home Friday, and it couldn’t come at a better time as the team plays host to the Buckhorn Bucks.

The two schools have had similar seasons and roads to the playoffs this year, which should make for an interesting match-up.

The Jaguars fell in back-to-back games in weeks three and four, and then reeled off six wins in a row for a combined 237-57 to close out the season.

The Bucks

also struggled early, losing the first game of the season at North Jackson, before winning back-to-back games and then dropping games against Huntsville and Florence to finish the regular season 7-3.

Buckhorn head coach Michael Jackson hopes Friday’s contest will be a thriller, but his team must contain Spain Park quarterback Cody Wells if the Bucks want a fighting chance.

LIONS GO AFTER BUTLER

The Briarwood Christian Lions completed a perfect regular season with a win over Jackson-Olin Friday, but now the team must turn its attention to the second season – the playoffs.

Last season, Briarwood ran into the eventual Class 5A state champion – the Athens Golden Eagles – in the first round. Now the team is looking for redemption and head coach Fred Yancey’s fourth state title.

As the Region 5 champions, the Lions will catch a break in the first round Friday when they play host to the Butler Rebels.

The Rebels barely made it into the playoffs, as the fourth seed in Region 7, and finished the regular season with a dismal 3-7 record.

If Briarwood quarterback Barrett Trotter can find his rhythm, and wide receiver Matt Gordon, early and often, this one could get ugly.

HORNETS STILL FLYING HIGH

For the Chelsea Hornets, life couldn’t be any better.

Friday night, the Hornets pulled off one of the most amazing wins in the most unbelievable fashion.

With just under a minute remaining in the game, the Hornets ran a double hook-and-ladder play to take the come-from-behind victory over the Shelby County Wildcats for the first time in nine years. The win also eliminated the Wildcats from playoff contention.

Now that the emotional roller coaster is over, the real football begins.

As the No. 3 seed in Region 5, the Hornets will travel to Albertville Friday to take on the No. 2 seed in Region 7.

Tommy Tharp’s Aggies have not experienced as much success as Wade Waldrop’s Hornets, but the boys from Albertville are dangerous, having knocked off Lee-Huntsville before falling in the regular-season finale at Guntersville.

The Hornets are also dangerous and well balanced, led by quarterback Blake Yance.

Yance was cool and composed during the Hornets’ win over Shelby County, but it will take another solid effort by running back Garrett Salter if Chelsea wants to advance to the second round.

EAGLS FLYING TOWARD B’HAM

In recent years, the Calera Eagles have experienced a tremendous amount of success.

But it hasn’t been enough.

Most teams would give anything, and be thrilled, to finish the regular season with one or no losses, thus making it into the playoffs.

Not Calera.

The Eagles have won 18 games during head coach Mac Thompson’s two-tenure, but last season’s first-round exit from the playoffs is still fresh on the players’ and coaches’ minds.

Mobile Christian, Friday’s first-round opponent, has struggled this season to a 4-6 record, while barely making it into the Class 3A playoffs as the fourth seed in Region 1.

Mobile Christian head coach Robert Wasden runs the wing-T offense, but the Leopards run it effectively.

Calera’s best defense may be its offense as the Eagles have put up 359 points this season and average nearly 36 points per game.

The Eagles should roll to the second round, while also getting plenty of back-ups playing time