Shelby County embarrasses Briarwood

This game was all about the three Ds – Defense, Darion Sutton and Duston Wood.

The Shelby County Wildcats (2-0, 1-0) used a mixture of its bruising fullback Sutton, tight coverage in the secondary by Wood and a defensive front that crashed to the ball to down the second-ranked Briarwood Christian Lions (1-1, 0-1), 26-3, in Friday’s opening game of Class 5A, Region 4 action.

“No body beats Briarwood much, much less us,” Shelby County head coach Ryan Herring said. “I can’t say enough about our kids. We have seven kids playing both ways in 5A football. That’s what I’m proud about the most.”

The Wildcats’ game plan was simple — pound the ball hard and control the clock. They did so, collecting 204 yards on the ground and eating up 30:56 of the game clock. Sutton led the way with 99 yards on 28 carries and three touchdowns, including a fourth-and-seven dash to the end zone with 10 seconds left in the game.

“Our coaches had us ready from day one,” Sutton said. “We’re not going to stop here. We’re going to keep on going. We’re going to take one game at a time from 2-0 to 10-0.”

The Lions’ offense was handcuffed all night, collecting only 96 yards of total offense in one of their weakest offensive showings in recent years.

“They were bringing more than we had blockers to block at times,” Briarwood offensive coordinator and former Wildcats head coach Geoff Walters said.

Lions head coach Fred Yancey was concerned about his team’s three turnovers, bringing the season total to nine in two weeks.

“They scare me. You can’t have turnovers without it being a problem,” Yancey said. “Shelby County was the better team. They played great. Their offensive and defensive lines are as good as advertised.”

Briarwood lost only one fumble, a fourth-quarter miscue by Lions’ quarterback Paul Barber forced by Damian Trice and recovered by Jon Walden. The other two turnovers came as interceptions by Wood. He returned his second pick more than 30 yards for a touchdown with 9:19 left in the game – a play that Herring said gave the Wildcats confidence that the game was theirs.

“Coach gave us a heck of a game plan all week. We studied real hard, watching film all week, skipping lunch to watch film,” Wood said. “Coach just put something good together for us.”

And the ’Cats executed.

“Briarwood’s a very good team. I just wanted to prove that we’re a better team this year. This is our year, and we want it to be known that this is our year,” said Shelby County quarterback Braten Dill, whose 14 carries for 54 yards helped set up Sutton’s two touchdown runs.

Sutton put the Lions on the board with 6:28 to play in the first half to give Shelby County a 7-0 lead. Briarwood’s most productive drive of the game came in the final minute when Zeke Walters moved the Lions down field to set up a 44-yard field goal by Ben Bracewell, who also had an interception on defense. The kick, Bracewell’s first field goal of the season, was good to send the game into the half with the ’Cats up, 7-3.

Sutton pushed his second touchdown in with 11:55 to play in the game.

Barber finished the game 7-of-13 passing for 26 yards and had -23 yards rushing. Fullback Alex Hall led the Lions with 45 yards on 12 carries.

Briarwood travels to John Carroll Friday for its third-straight game on the road, while Shelby County will remain home for the third week and welcome Class 1A opponent Georgiana.