Semifinal preview: Jags look to ambush Vestavia
FROM STAFF REPORTS
If revenge is sweet, then Friday night’s match-up between Spain Park (12-1) and Vestavia Hills (12-1) should be like a Thanksgiving dessert for the Jaguars.
Following the Jaguars’ 23-7 loss to Hoover in week three, (a loss which was later reversed due to a Hoover forfeiture) Spain Park dropped only its second game of the season in a 21-0 shutout loss to the Rebels at home.
But that was then, and this is now.
The Jaguars have reeled off nine consecutive wins heading into Friday’s showdown with the Rebels.
Since losing to Vestavia, the Jaguars have outscored opponents 320-101 with a mixture of a potent offensive attack and a solid defensive effort.
And it will take an extremely solid defensive effort for the Jaguars to contain Vestavia running back Justin Rogers.
Rogers, who rushed for 215 yards and three touchdowns in the first game against Spain Park, is coming off another three-touchdown performance as he ran for 261 yards against rival Hoover is last week’s quarterfinal victory.
If the Jags can contain the Rebel rushing attack, this one could come down to another Trey Del Greco field goal.
The winner of Friday night’s game will advance to the Super Six in Birmingham Dec. 8 to take on the winner of the game between Prattville and McGill-Toolen game.
BEAT CORDOVA OR IT’S OVA
The Clarke County Bulldogs were having the season of a lifetime.
Then they ran into the Calera Eagles.
After finishing with a perfect regular-season record, the Bulldogs bullied their way through the first two rounds of the Class 3A playoffs before being upended by the Eagles.
And if hosting one undefeated team wasn’t tough enough, Calera (12-1) must now play host to another unbeaten team in the Cordova Blue Devils (13-0).
Running back Tim Simon and quarterback Daniel Ingram pace Cordova, who is coming off a 24-0 shutout victory over previously unbeaten Pike County. Simon and Ingram have led a Cordova team that has failed to score 40 points in only four games, and the Blue Devils scored 38 and 39 points in two of those four games.
Calera, led by quarterback Paul Winterbottom and running back Earl Haynes, has scored 40 or more points in six games this season, but it has been the Eagles’ defense that has been the difference lately. Besides the 54-27 win over Mobile Christian in the first round, the Eagles have given up 12, 9, 7, 0, 7, 0 and 7 points in the past seven games.
The winner of Friday night’s game will advance to the Super Six championship game Birmingham’s Legion Field Dec. 8 to take on the winner of the Clay County-Colbert County game.
SOMEONE MUST LOSE
Twelve teams remain unbeaten when the AHSAA semifinals role around Friday, two of those are the Briarwood Christian Lions (13-0) and the Cullman Bearcats (13-0).
The Lions hit Interstate 65 North for the second-straight week to travel to an unfamiliar Oliver Woodard Stadium and face a team it has never seen before. While it is obvious that the offense will be a threat for both teams, defense may be the toughest challenge.
Briarwood’s Barrett Trotter has passed for more than 3,000 yards and 42 touchdowns, while rushing for six more. Cullman’s Mike Timmons has the ability to run wild. Just ask Chelsea. They know all about Timmons, the back that ran for 273 yards and three touchdowns in round two. He also added a touchdown reception. Both stars have helped lead their team to high scores through the season and playoffs, as Cullman averaged 41.7 points in the first three rounds to Briarwood’s 37 points.
Briarwood defensive coordinator Mike Forester will look to help out his offense by containing Timmons and holding the Bearcats to less than three touchdowns, something they’ve done in the first three rounds, averaging 11.3 points allowed. Cullman defensive coordinator Mark Stephens, on the other hand, will be forced to improve his defenders if the Bearcats want to play at Legion Field. The Bearcats have allowed 32.7 points per game in the playoffs, which will be too many against the Briarwood offense.
No matter what Stephens decides to throw at the Briarwood offense, the Lions may have proven against Johnson that they have the ability to make the necessary adjustments to win in any situation, shortening its field and pounding the ball instead of spreading things out as they’ve done all year.
The winner will meet St. Paul’s (12-1) or Williamson (10-3) for the 5A title Dec. 7