Lions crush ‘Dega in first quarter

One homecoming parade float said it all at 2 p.m. – “Tee up the Tigers.”

Five hours later, junior halfback Caleb Castille helped Briarwood do just that, downing Talladega, 37-7, on homecoming Thursday. Quarterback Paul Barber found Castille for passes of 12 and 5 yards on the Lions’ opening drive, with the latter resulting in the first of three Castille touchdowns in the quarter.

“We weren’t going to take them lightly. We took them on just like Spain Park and Vestavia,” Castille said.

That explained the first strike, but scoring 23 more points in the next eight minutes showed that the Lions’ defense has greatly improved, especially on the line, from its week two loss at Shelby County.

“From then on it’s been a slow progression. It’s like a train picking up speed,” senior defensive end Walker May said.

May began to turn things up a notch at a time against the Tigers with his pressure on quarterback Craig Granger.

With 3:51 to play in the first quarter, May flushed Granger out of the pocket. Granger chose to unload the ball into the hands of Briarwood’s J.T. Davis. One play later, Barber found Connor Hodges on a 25-yard strike, 14-0.

“If one word describes our defense, it’s consistent,” Castille said. “ They get faster and stronger every week … We just work to answer what they do.”

May found Granger in the backfield again on the next drive. This time, Granger aired the pass to a vacant spot of turf as May was dragging him down in the end zone. The intentional grounding penalty resulted in a sack for May and a safety for the Lions.

Castille then revealed his answers, returning the free kick 75 yards for his second score. Head coach Fred Yancey said he was pleased to see Castille making smart decisions in the open field that helped result in the return and in his next touchdown — a 21-yard dash with 43 seconds left in the quarter.

“I always look to get better every week in some aspect of my game, and just go from there, keep working hard and never stop pushing,” Castille said.

Briarwood’s fifth touchdown came in the second quarter on a 7-yard pass from Barber to Ramsey White.

Yancey said he saw improvements in his team through the first half. The Lions’ backups saw action in the second half.

Briarwood (5-1, 3-1) will take a three-day weekend away from the practice field before beginning to prepare Monday for next Friday’s game at Chelsea.

“I can’t wait to go over there. It’s going to be awesome. They always play their best game against us. We’re not taking it light at all. We know they’re going to bring it,” Castille said.