Cat fight might decide region champion

Last year, Shelby County High School watched as Chelsea’s Garrett Salter raced into the endzone on a double hook-and-ladder. The six points gave the Hornets the lead and put a nail in the Wildcats’ season.

But after a summer of heavy lifting in the weightroom Shelby County is looking to make its transition into a new region in Class 5A, Region 4 with a return to the playoffs.

The Cats move into a region with defending region champ Briarwood and long-time rival Chelsea.

Even though many are saying not to count out Sylacauga, one of the three teams from the county will win the region championship, and it may be decided as early as Sept. 5 when Briarwood comes to Columbiana.

If running back Darion Sutton can put his team on his shoulders and knock off the Briarwood Lions, it may be the momentum the Wildcats need to stay in the driver’s seat and move forward into the season, avenge last season’s loss at Chelsea and claim a region title.

Briarwood, although rebuilding, is still a force to be reckoned with in the region. The Lions must beat Shelby County to have a shot at the region title before going to Chelsea Oct. 10.

However, the key for either team to finish atop Region 4 will be health.

The second week of the season will be an outright brawl between Shelby County and Briarwood. Sutton has the potential to bruise the Briarwood defense, but Briarwood’s Walker May has the ability to roughen up Shelby County quarterback Braten Dill and a number of linemen.

If both come away injury free, the winner is in position to invade Chelsea for the title. But if either team, or both, gets bruised and beaten badly, then the opportunity opens for Chelsea to be the region’s victor.

If the title was decided on fan vote, the Hornets would already have the upper hand, leading the Reporter’s online sports poll with 43 percent of voters saying they’ll be able to pull out the title. Thirty-three percent predict Briarwood and 18 percent say Shelby County John Carroll and Talladega also received votes.

The moving of these three teams into the same region will make for at least three nights of exciting football. It’s not as jam packed as Class 6A, Region 6 but Region 4 is the closest thing Class 5A has to it.