Big plays lead Briarwood to 42-6 win over Chelsea

Paul Barber has seen a difference in the past few weeks in the Briarwood Christian School offense since a season-opening loss to Vestavia Hills.

The Lions had trouble scoring early in the season, but not anymore. Barber said one group has stepped up.

“It’s the offensive line getting the job done,” Barber said. “The guys on the offensive line have improved. We’ve been doing the little things right and good things are happening.”

Barber, who didn’t throw in practice this week due to a sore shoulder, received plenty of protection from his offensive line as he threw four touchdown passes and rushed for another touchdown to lead the Lions to a 42-6 win Oct. 9 over Chelsea in the Shelby County Reporter Game of the Week.

Barber was nearly perfect as he completed 15-of-20 passes for 294 yards and four touchdowns. Barber’s 20-yard touchdown pass to Cooper Harrington set the tone early with 5:52 remaining in the first quarter.

Yancey said he’s seen Barber grow into a great quarterback during the 2009 season.

“When a kid has some talent a a great work ethic, good things will happen,” Yancey said. “Paul has been excellent for us.”

Chelsea put a small scare into the Lions after Blake McLaughlin recovered a fumble by Sam Whitaker at the Briarwood 15-yard line and John Michael Lawley ran it in from one yard out four plays late to cut the lead to 7-6 as time expired in the first quarter. Andy Shaw’s extra-point attempt was blocked.

Briarwood took over for the final three quarters. Barber threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Alex Hall and ran it in from the 8-yard line in the second quarter to push the Briarwood lead to 21-6 at halftime. Barber threw two touchdown passes to Connor Hodges in the third quarter, a 38-yarder and a 64-yarder, to push the lead to 35-6 by the end of the quarter. Hodges finished with 184 receiving yards on six receptions.

Matthew Furuto capped the scoring for the Lions with an 81-yard touchdown run on a quarterback keeper with 22 seconds remaining in the game. The Lions finished with 449 yards of total offense. Wilson Whorton was successful on all six of his extra-point attempts.

The Briarwood defense kept the Hornets out of the end zone twice after Chelsea drove inside the Lions’ 10-yard line in the second half, including a stop on a quarterback sneak by Lawley at the 1-yard line in the third quarter. Caleb Castille made his debut at cornerback for the Lions. Yancey said he was pleased with Castille’s first game on the defensive side of the ball.

“We’ve been working with him the past few weeks,” Yancey said. “I was real proud of the way he played tonight.”

The win sealed a home game in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs for Briarwood. The Lions host Sylacauga Oct. 16 with a chance to wrap up the Class 5A, Region 4 championship. Briarwood improved to 5-2 overall and 5-0 in Region 4 with the win over Chelsea.

“(Hosting a playoff game) is a big deal for us,” Yancey said.

Meanwhile, Chelsea (2-5, 1-4 in Region 4) will travel to Hazel Green on Oct. 9 for a non-region game. Head coach Wade Waldrop said he was proud of the Hornets’ effort, but his team must cut down on mistakes.

“We had way too many mistakes,” Waldrop said. “(Briarwood’s) big plays by far were the difference in the game.”

D.J. Washington led Chelsea with 75 rushing yards on 18 carries.