Week One Preview: Rival beginnings

Published 11:15 pm Thursday, August 28, 2008

With three in-county rivalries kicking off the season on Friday, picking a Game of the Week is not easy — especially when one of those rivalries is a Class 6A, Region 6 battle with potential playoff spot on the line.

However, when Calera makes the 7-mile drive to Montevallo on Friday, the atmosphere will be one of the best to be found. The Bulldog faithful believe this is the year to beat to the Eagles. Veteran quarterback Kevin Callender will look to pick apart the youthful Calera defense with the help of Dejuan Fulgham and Brandon Lilly. While Calera has a rising star at quarterback in Brandon Wells, it has yet to prove that it can score on offense outside of a 7-on-7 camp. Pick: Montevallo

HWY 119 OWNERSHIP … Pelham @ Oak Mountain

It’s been two years since Oak Mountain and Pelham have met on the gridiron and the opportunity is here for this Class 6A, Region 6 battle to catapult itself back to the forefront as a rivalry. Pelham’s Dexter Paschel will force Oak Mountain quarterback Drew McKnight to get rid of the football quickly, while a cast of other Panthers will look to limit McKnight’s scrambling ability. However, Pelham still needs to prove it can move the ball, especially on third down. This one will come down to who can take advantage of a mistake and break one big play. Pick: Pelham

FRIENDS OR FOES … Shelby Academy @ Cornerstone

After Cornerstone picked up its first two program wins over Shelby last season and knocked the Raiders out of the playoffs, Shelby will look to return to Michael B. Willis Memorial Field and take back what it used to own. Shelby’s 14-0 win over Kingwood in last week’s jamboree showed that the Raiders have the ability to move the ball and put points up, something Cornerstone struggled with. Pick: Shelby Academy

JACKETS LEAVE NEST … Vincent @ Fayetteville

Vincent is leaving its offense and scheduling past behind when it hits the road to Sylacauga to take on Fayetteville. Even though they’re a 1A opponent, the Wolves will be a test for 2A Vincent. Look for the new spread offense to lead Vincent to its first 1-0 start since beating Chelsea, 27-12, in 2001 — Dwight Spradley’s first game as head coach. Pick: Vincent

ROARS AND YELLS … Briarwood @ Vestavia

The inexperienced Briarwood Lions will get a test out of the gate this week with the potential Class 6A, Region 6 champs, Vestavia, ready to avenge last year’s loss. This game won’t hurt Briarwood when it comes to the postseason, but may prove to be a time for Mr. Clutch, Paul Barber, to show he can lead the team. Pick: Vestavia Hills

PLAYOFF PREVIEW … Chelsea @ Hartselle

This year, Chelsea isn’t waiting for a playoff test late in the year. A win on the road against a playoff team such as Hartselle can help jump start the Hornets’ season. Look for a balanced run game from Zac Hilliard and Garrett Salter to lead the Hornets down field. Pick: Chelsea

WEEK ONE CAT FIGHT … Pell City @ Shelby County

Both teams had similar seasons last year, but this week Shelby County will look to prove that Wildcats can run the ball stronger and faster than Panthers when Pell City comes to town. The Wildcats’ varsity squad flowed with offense in last week’s jamboree at Walker and should rack up well over 150 yards of offense and five touchdowns on the ground this week. Pick: Shelby County

RUNNER-UP NO MORE … Spain Park @ Homewood

It’s no longer 2007. A new year brings a smaller roster for Spain Park, who played as if they didn’t have a secondary against Opelika. Homewood will open up at home as a team that has been gaining strength in Class 6A. Pick: Homewood

GOING TO WAR … Mountain Brook @ Thompson

Thompson, welcome back to Region 6. It’s not the toughest region in the state for nothing, as the Warriors will open up with a state quarterfinal team from last year. The Mountain Brook Spartans are without a handful of last year’s studs, but the Warriors are missing just as many and are still trying to figure out their offense. Pick: Mountain Brook.

3A HOOPLA … Kingwood @ Hooper

The move to Class 3A may be a struggle for Kingwood this season, but despite a small offensive showing in the Cornerstone jamboree, the Lions shouldn’t have a problem in their first 3A game. Kingwood was able to blank Hooper, 21-0, last year. Pick: Kingwood

HOSTING THE CHAMPS … South Choctaw @ Coosa Valley

Opening against defending state champion South Choctaw will not be easy for injury-ridden Coosa Valley. Pick: South Choctaw