Shelby County’s perfect season ends

Published 11:56 pm Friday, November 14, 2008

The first loss in an undefeated season is always the worst to deal with, especially when it ends a season. Shelby County fell short of 12-0 Friday, losing to Demopolis, 28-14, at Papa McCombs Stadium.

Shelby County was hoping to shave another coach’s head and advance to the third round of the playoffs since some of the players’ fathers did in 1984.

“My dad was on the ’84 team and went undefeated. For me to be a senior and do the same, it meant a whole lot,” said defensive back Dustin Wood, whose father Ambrose was tailback on the ’84 team. “I tried to follow in his footsteps this year on the football field. We didn’t get a ring this year, but it was something special to be a part of.”

It was a stalemate as the Tigers and the Wildcats both took two stabs on the offensive side of the ball trying to be the one to hit the goal line first.

A Kevin McNorton punt pinned the Tigers deep in their own territory as the end of the first quarter approached. However, before the yard markers could be nestled in the turf, Rick Boone had connected with Anthony Hardy for a 78-yard crowd pleaser to put the visitors out to the early lead, 7-0.

It was Boone’s only pass completion of the night, but it was effective.

SCHS plugged away patiently trying to find their niche against the speedy, physical Tiger defense as halftime drew near. The ‘Cats gathered up a 10-play scoring drive that took up four minutes of the game clock when Braten Dill connected with Tae Lewis in the corner of the end zone from the Tiger 24.

A missed point-after-attempt left the Wildcats trailing at the half, 7-6.

Shortly into the third quarter, Demarcus James coughed up the football at the Tiger 21, a potential momentum swinging gift to the Wildcats. However, Brian Taylor took the ball back for the Tigers on the next play, picking off a Dill pass for a 79-yard “pick six” to expand the Tigers’ lead, 14-6.

After a three-and-out from SCHS, the Tigers capitalized yet again on the favorable field position that started at the Shelby County 33-yard line. Jacob Kerby bolted to the end zone from the 11 to expand the Tiger lead further, 21-6.

The Wildcats managed to pull the game within seven when Darion Sutton dashed for a 42-yard touchdown run. Wesley Howard followed with a catch on the 2-point conversion to pull the Wildcats closer, 21-14.

That Sutton run would be his last dawning a Wildcat jersey, as James torched the Wildcat defense on the ensuing drive that started at his own 37-yard line. He capped off the drive with a 5-yard run to put the game away.

Shelby County finished the night with an abnormal 113 yards of rushing and tossed for 87 yards through the air. Three interceptions assisted in the Tigers toppling the Wildcats.

Amidst the disappointment and emotional scene after the game, Wildcat head coach Ryan Herring knew it was a great journey while it lasted.

“I just want to thank God for allowing me to be in Columbiana and coach this group of kids. This is a year this school, this town and these kids will never forget,” Herring said. “We finished the regular season ranked No. 3 in Class 5A, and I am so thankful I was blessed enough to be their coach. I can’t give anything but praise to these kids and how hard they worked … These guys set their names in stone in Shelby County High School history, and I am thankful the community allowed me to be their coach.”