Trying to stay alive

Can this be Chelsea’s week?

The Hornets were close to beating Sylacauga last week, but fell apart in the fourth quarter. They were close to ruining a perfect season for Briarwood last year, but fell apart in the second half. The Briarwood Lions come to town Friday playing at the top of their game. The Hornets are still working on correcting penalties and holding onto the football.

Chelsea is backed into a corner with a must win scenario this week if it wants to see the field in November. Briarwood is playing for the No. 2 spot in the region and a chance to host a first round game.

With a few Briarwood coaches and players living in the Chelsea school zone, the game is a big one. Briarwood has yet to forget what it felt like losing at home to Davin Palmer and the Hornets in 2006 and don’t want to even come close to feeling that again. Because the Lions know that Chelsea will be up for the game, Briarwood will be just as hyped.

And if the trickery begins from the Chelsea sideline, Briarwood head coach Fred Yancey has shown a few times that he’s not afraid to gamble on fourth-and-long with the lead. Pick: Briarwood

IN THE MOOD

The mood around Columbiana is pride, excitement and pure adrenaline. The Shelby County Wildcats are on a slow and steady train, picking up steam each week. This week, the ’Cats can clinch a spot in the Class 5A playoffs with a win against Moody. Now that Braten Dill has showed that his arm isn’t just for setting up the run, Shelby County’s threat level has increased from orange to a severe red. Pick: Shelby County

PLANNING AN AMBUSH

Vestavia Hills has a region championship in sight. Spain Park is simply hoping to win another game. The Jags have struggled in a rebuilding year, dropping a pair of games early that should have pushed them to 3-0 had it not been for mental mistakes. Now, at 1-5, Spain Park looks to build off a strong showing against Hoover to try to surprise Vestavia. The Jags have been in need of putting together a perfect game. They were close against Hoover and can get closer Friday. Pick: Spain Park

A WEEK AWAY FROM 6

Any time a team can get a week away from Class 6A, Region 6 it is usually welcomed and much needed. Such is the case Friday when Oak Mountain hosts Buckhorn for homecoming. The playoffs already look to be out of the picture for the Eagles, but a win Friday can spark a four-game winning streak to close the season. It won’t be easy though with the Bucks (5-1) leading the way in Region 8. Davis Dudchock is back at tight end after an injury and will look to lead his team to a homecoming upset. Pick: Oak Mountain

AVOIDING A LET DOWN

Pelham is coming off one of its most impressive and meaningful wins in school history, a 41-0 shellacking of arch-rival Thompson. Will they be able to put the game behind them before playing the host to the biggest surprise in Class 6A, Region 6? Gardendale comes to town for homecoming and would like nothing more than to ruin the Panthers’ green and gold ribbon display with an upset. One thing that will keep the Panthers focused is that it is a must win for both teams in order to reach the postseason. Pick: Pelham

ENTERING TAILSPIN

With the suspension of speedster Siddeq Cooper, Thompson is in need of an offensive overhaul. It didn’t appear Friday they had figured out what changes to make in a week. Another week of practice means the Warriors will not likely get shut out but 41 points, but don’t expect them to hold off Homewood in a cellar dwellers war. The Patriots are coming off their first win of the season at Bob Jones and are salivating at the chance to win a region game. Pick: Homewood

COMING ALIVE

After losing to Montevallo on opening night, Calera head coach Mac Thompson was not too upset with his young team.

“We’re close. We know that we’re a better football team than what we’ve been playing,” he said.

It took three more weeks of practice, but he was right. The Eagles (3-3) are one of the most impressive teams in Class 4A, Region 3. Last year’s team was one of the most talented the school has seen. With the loss of almost all of its starters and a jump to 4A, many thought Calera would be down this year. They are, comparatively speaking, but they aren’t out. The Eagles are in second place in the region and appear that they will host a first-round playoff game. A win at a weak Dallas County secures a playoff spot. Pick: Calera

DAWGS SEASON FLIPPED

It’s no secret to the Reporter that Kevin Callender is an athlete. It appears that it took weeks for other local media to pick up on the secret though. Callender, who has nearly singlehandedly marched Montevallo down the field game-after-game, is questionable for this Friday’s game at Marbury after suffering a leg injury at LaFayette. The Bulldogs are also without leading receiver Dajuan Fulgham. The injuries will hurt Montevallo, but if Callender can play, the Bulldogs have a shot at staying close to their mark. The game plan will have to change, but Marbury is down compared to last season. However, Callender’s average of two touchdowns a game on the ground may now be gone, at least this week. Pick: Marbury

CLINCHING REVENGE

Vincent and Fultondale are both one win away from the post season. The Jackets will host the Wildcats this week looking to avenge previous losses the past few years. There were a lot of fourth-quarter mental mistakes by Vincent this past week, but with the meat of the schedule coming up in Class 2A, Region 4, the Jackets should not have to be told to be focused. Only one loss has occurred this season, and that was hindered by cramps against Isabella. The weather is cooler and the Jackets appear healthy. Each week a new element of the offense seems to unfold. Pick: Vincent

FOR THE SEASON

Coosa Valley is close to a trip to the playoffs, but the road to the postseason runs through Chambers Academy. The Chambers Rebels are sitting high after edging Cornerstone two weeks ago. The Rebels have one more shot at clinching a playoff berth, but are banged up after a loss to Ashford. With a healthy roster, CVA would look too good on paper, but too many question marks remain as to who will play Friday. Pick: Chambers

A FRIENDLY BATTLE

After losing at the Chargers’ field Friday to Restoration, Sumter (1-5) will host Cornerstone this week with hopes of ending a two-game losing skid. However, Cornerstone will look to build off a strong passing night Friday and improve to 5-2 on the season. Pick: Cornerstone

WIN OR STAY HOME

Evangel Christian of Montgomery brings its six-game losing streak to Shelby Academy this week. The Raiders will secure a playoff spot with a win, and are determined to reach the postseason in their first year in AISA Class 2A. Pick: Shelby

HITTING A BRICK WALL

Only one team has beat Tuscaloosa Academy this season — juggernaut Bessemer Academy. The Knights’ defense has allowed only two touchdowns per game in their six victories, while the offense has averaged 46 points. Even though Kingwood is coming off an impressive game against Pickens, the Lions have struggled on offense all year. Pick: Tuscaloosa

Last Week: 10-3

Season: 51-24 (.680)