Playoffs spark start of new season

Fourteen teams, 140 games, 70 wins and 70 losses. The regular season is over for the AHSAA and AISA. But those numbers are in the past.

It’s coach-speak, but in reality, it is true — a new season is on the horizon. For the AHSAA, it’s five weeks. For the AISA, it’s four. Either way you look at it, win and play on or lose and go home is the challenge six of our county’s teams face beginning this week.

A NEW PERFECTION

For the first time in 24 years, Shelby County is undefeated as it enters the playoffs. While perfection deserves to be celebrated, that celebration ends this week with Chilton County (3-7) coming to town for the first round of the Class 5A playoffs. Shelby County head coach Ryan Herring shaved his head this past Friday to keep a promise to his team that he would do so if they shut out Jemison. They did. This week allows the opportunity for the ’Cats to post back-to-back shutouts in what should be a guaranteed win. Even though it appears to be a lock, Shelby County will still have to play the game and do what it does best, run the football, set up the run with the pass and let its secondary pick off passes from all corners of the gridiron. Pick: Shelby County

HISTORY ON THEIR SIDE

Perennial post season contender Briarwood Christian will face a tough first-round playoff match-up this Friday when Greenville comes to town. With SEC commitments on both defensive lines, expect this game to go to the team that can out maneuver the other defensive line the best. Walker May, headed to Vanderbilt next fall, will lead Briarwood with the help of leading tackler and junior linebacker Justin Shade. Greenville will be led by Jamontay Pilson, who has given a verbal commitment to Auburn, and junior defensive lineman Kenneth Carter. Briarwood started the season with an upset over Vestavia, only to lose to Shelby County the next week. The Lions then went on a tear until two weeks ago when Florence took them out at Lion Pride Stadium. The Lions also struggled late against Anniston on Friday. The Briarwood offense will have to step things up this week in order to avoid an upset by a Greenville team that has won seven of its last eight games. Pick: Briarwood

WELCOME BACK

The Pelham Panthers return to the playoffs after a one year absence, but receive a tough draw as the No. 4 seed from Region 6. The Panthers (6-4) have the tall task of knocking off unbeaten Tuscaloosa County (10-0). Senior defender Alvin Hines does not want this season to end early and will be looking to motivate his team, while Tripp Martin will hope he can put the offense on his shoulders. But, the Wildcats are near flawless, winning only one game by less than 10 points. Pick: Tuscaloosa County

AGAINST THE ODDS

Not many people thought Calera would make a run in this year’s move to Class 4A, much less that the Eagles would host the first round as Region 3 champions. But the young Eagles (6-4) are out to prove they belong as Saks (5-5) comes to town for the first round of the playoffs Friday. While both teams are around .500 for the regular season, records are meaningless when you look at Saks’ schedule. The Wildcats’ five wins have come against teams that finished the season a combined 12-38. Calera, on the other hand, knocked off two previously undefeated region teams during the season to help get to where it is. The Eagles will rely on Brandon Wells’ dual threat attack Friday and get ready for a second round trip to Jemison or a chance to host Handley in round two. Pick: Calera

SOME MORE TIME

Southern Academy enters the AISA Class 2A playoffs after receiving its second loss of the season Friday at home. Now the Cougars (8-2) will host Shelby Academy. The Raiders (5-5) are new to Class 2A and have struggled at times through the season. The run game should be effective for the Raiders, but Shelby will have to play near perfect on defense and develop more of a passing attack than it has used this season. This Southern defense is strong, allowing 10.6 points per game. While Shelby is a contender with a second-year head coach Shannon Jones, the move up in classification means the Raiders will need more time before you see them return to a state title game in Troy. Pick: Southern

LONG ROAD TRIP

Not only will Friday’s road trip be long in distance as Cornerstone (6-4) travels to Butler to meet undefeated Patrician (9-0), but it could also be long mentally. Cornerstone’s backfield is bruised after a lopsided loss at home to Crenshaw Christian this past week. Now with its offense not at 100 percent, they meet a team that should be in the state title game at season’s end. CCS lost a lot of talent last year and have proved themselves this year. However, this playoff trip will be short lived. With one senior, though, CCS can use this Friday’s game as a training exercise for next season. Pick: Patrician

Megginson’s Picks

Last Week: 9-3

Season: 89-35 (.718)