Wildcats perfect in regular season
It was all treats and no tricks for the Shelby County Wildcats Friday night downing the Jemison Panthers, 24-0. The shutout win was the first of the season and closes out the regular season with a flawless 10-0 record.
It’s been 24 years since the Wildcats have felt that mountaintop high, as they beat the Panthers to close the 1984 season for their last 10-0 regular season run.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our kids and what they have done,” Wildcat head coach Ryan Herring said. “To be 10-0 is just a testament to our kids. We put God first and hard work has paid off for us. When hard work pays off, it makes the coaches feel good and when stuff like this happens, you just feel good for the kids.”
Both teams had a stab on the offensive side of the ball with nothing to brag about to begin the game.
It wasn’t until an errant Panther punt that the Wildcat offense hit its stride. That stride was running back Tae Lewis dashing around right-end on the next play for a 35-yard touchdown. A botched snap on the point-after attempt gave the Wildcats the narrow 6-0 lead.
The Panther offense battled back marching down, to the Wildcat 40-yard line. After a turnover on downs, on fourth-and-three, the Wildcats were back in business.
With the first quarter below the three minute mark, SCHS was in a dilemma facing fourth-and-20 from the Panther 30.
Herring called a fullback screen, and Darion Sutton executed with the 30-yard touchdown as time expired in the first quarter. The opening period came to an end with a blocked PAT with the Wildcats leading 12-0.
On the ensuing Panther possession Demonte Ford centered himself in the secondary and picked off an Eric Argo pass to nestle the Wildcats at the Panthers 40-yard line.
SCHS seized the opportunity and mustered up a five minute, 11-play scoring drive with Lewis hitting the end zone on a sweep around left end. The 2-point try failed, as the ‘Cats took an 18-0 lead into the half.
Argo marched the Panthers down the field to start the second half. A Merrell Morrow run set up the Panthers at the Wildcat 12-yard line. However, penalties riddled the Panther drive and forced another turnover on downs at the Wildcat 25.
SCHS countered with another scoring drive, capped by a 19-yard run by Sutton. With a comfortable 24-0 lead in the third quarter, the defense took over the rest of the way.
A surging Wildcat defense held the Panther offense to a simple 7 yards of total offense in the first half, while just allowing 54 total yards for the game. Additionally, Dustin Wood added to the pot with two interceptions of his own.
Offensively, the Wildcats tallied 248 yards on the ground and 54 yards through the air. Braten Dill went 3-of-9 with one touchdown toss.
The Panthers just couldn’t find a comfort zone against the clicking Wildcats Friday night and Panther Head Coach Brad Abbott gave all the credit in the world to the ‘Cats.
“We just couldn’t get anything going tonight”, Abbott said. “A good team takes on the persona of their coach and Coach Herring has his team playing well right now. They have a great football team.”
Shelby County will host the Chilton County Tigers next Friday night in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs. The loss drops Jemison to the No. 3 spot in Class 4A, Region 3 due to a tiebraker, as it will hit the road to Handley next week.