Battle in 5A begins

Rankings are out, pads are on and football is around the corner. With Briarwood Christian ranked No. 3 in the preseason Alabama Sports Writers Association poll and Shelby County No. 9, the battle for the Class 5A, Region 4 title has begun.

While head coaches of both schools enjoy the rankings, they know their team is a long way from matching up to last year’s success of 11-1 for Shelby County and 9-3 for Briarwood.

“We lost nine guys on defense, so I know right now we’re not a Top 10 team,” Shelby County head coach Ryan Herring said. “(To be ranked) says a lot about last year’s team.”

Briarwood head coach Fred Yancey thinks otherwise about the team that dominated his players in the second week last season.

“They should be great again this year. I think it’ll be between us, them and John Carroll in the region,” Yancey said. “I really think Shelby County will be like last year. The winner against Shelby County will have a great chance … I would have ranked them No. 2, because I think they’re better than Russellville. I don’t know who’s better than Vigor.”

Defending state champion Vigor begins the season No. 1 with Russellville No. 2. Carver-Montgomery, who beat Briarwood in the quarterfinals is No. 4 and Demopolis, who ended Shelby County’s season, is No. 5.

Fall practice began Monday with both Shelby County and Briarwood reporting one of their best first days of fall practice in recent years.

In other polls, Montevallo enters the season at No. 8 in Class 3A. Pelham, Oak Mountain, Calera and Cornerstone each received votes in their respective polls.