Shelby Co. clinches region title

Published 2:18 am Saturday, October 18, 2008

A host of Shelby County faithful filled Talladega High school’s Mary Dumas Stadium Friday night to witness a soggy 42-6 Wildcat win over the Tigers.

Last week’s win over Moody reserved a spot in the post season, but the win over the Tigers crowned the ‘Cats 5A, Region 4 champions. It is the first 5A region title in school history for a team on the rebound after missing out on the post season a year ago

“I could not be happier with our kids focus. Every week you worry about an undefeated team getting complacent, but these kids are really impressing me every week on their ability to play focused and determined football,” Wildcats’ head coach Ryan Herring said. “I just cannot say enough about the job our players and coaches are doing.”

The Tigers didn’t waste any time in their attempt to knock off the fourth-ranked ‘Cats by returning the opening kick 51 yards to the SCHS 40-yard line.

However, Kevin McNorton and Wesley Howard took down Tiger quarterback, Craig Grainger, for a loss to force a punt.

It took SCHS two series to get comfy with their poor field position compliments of Tiger punts.

With a first-and-10 on the ‘Cats second possession, Tae Lewis rounded turn one at his own 18-yard line and hit the straight away for an 82-yard touchdown scamper. As the first quarter came to a close, the Wildcats led 7-0.

On the ensuing possession, the Wildcat passing game capped off a 10-play scoring drive when Braten Dill connected with Daniel Watkins for an 18-yard touchdown toss.

SCHS would then quickly capitalize on a Tiger fumble with Darion Sutton tip-toeing his way in from the Tiger 5-yard line.

In the blink of an eye, the Wildcats had rolled up a 21-0 lead with 2:56 left before the half.

However, the Tigers wouldn’t let their homecoming night slip away so easily.

Grainger took the reigns of his offense and led them on an impressive 12-play drive that ended when he snuck through the aggressive Wildcat defense from the 1-yard line. The half ended with the Wildcats holding to a 21-6 lead.

SCHS came out of the visitor’s locker room in the second half with Sutton adding two more scoring runs of 2-yards and one from the 3-yard line. McNorton added to the scoring pot with a 35-yard pick-six interception.

The big men up front cleared the way for the Wildcat running game to gather 301 yards on the ground and a complimenting 76 yards through the air.

Defensively, SCHS pitched a shutout in the second half while giving 201 yards to the Tigers.

Herring has led his Wildcats to their first championship, but there is still work to be done with two games remaining.

“We have Chelsea next week and it will be nothing but a war,” Herring said. “It’s going to be a four quarter battle and a great rivalry game. We’ll have to be ready to play.”

Shelby County’s “No. 1 Voted Rivalry” will be under the lights next Friday with Shelby County traveling to take on Chelsea for the final Region 4 game.