Calera close to region title

Calera took another step toward a Class 4A, Region 3 championship Friday, attacking a winless Southside-Selma (0-9) hard on the road, 42-24.

“This is the kind of game that scares you — one of those games you should win, but you don’t really know what to expect,” Calera head coach Mac Thompson said. “We played good at times, and other times we played like we’re young. We showed flashes of being great, then showed flashes of being average.”

One of those great flashes came in running back Erik Burrells, who opened the scoring for the Eagles with a 9-yard touchdown in the first quarter. He finished the game with seven carries for 56 yards and two scores, with his second touchdown coming from 19 yards out in the third quarter.

Burrells and Kendal Cox, who had 57 yards on four carries, helped the Eagles gain 242 yards on the ground in the I-formation, as Thompson moved his team away from the spread offense at times Friday.

“We don’t have the receivers we’ve had in the past, so we’re going into the I a lot. Having a running back you can pound it with makes it easier a lot of times. It gives it a change of pace,” Thompson said.

The rushing attack set the tone for the Eagles, as quarterback Brandon Wells scored on runs of 25 yards and 3 yards to help put Calera ahead 21-0 in the second quarter. He completed a 2-point pass to Chris Majors on the third touchdown.

Selma found the end zone midway through the second quarter, but Calera answered with a 47-yard pass from Wells to Walter Smith to take a 28-6 lead into halftime.

A Maleki Harris interception return for a touchdown and Burrells run made the score 41-6 after three quarters of work.

Southside scored three touchdowns in the fourth.

With the win — aided by Bibb County’s 47-8 dismantling of Greensboro — the Eagles sit one week away from the region championship. Currently stuck in a three-way tie with Jemison and Bibb County, Calera just needs to have the same result next week that both Jemison and Bibb County have in order to win the tiebreaker and region title.

The Eagles returned only one starter on offense this year and was not considered to be a team to compete for a region championship when it moved up to Class 4A this year, but the young team came out to prove it can.

“It’s pretty unbelievable,” Thompson said. “We told our kids they should work to build their own legacy. They’ve done a good job buying into that. It’s real big for us as a motivation factor being young … They’re working hard and hopefully can make a run next year, if not this year.”

Calera (6-3, 6-1) will close the regular season with a trip to Chelsea Thursday at 7 p.m.

Barrett Welch of the Selma Times Journal and Chris Bunn contributed to this report.