Shelby County youth football team takes title
FROM STAFF REPORTS
After a last-place finish in the division last season, the 5- to 6-year-old Shelby County Wildcats football team felt like they had something to prove.
“Our goal at the start of the year was to make the playoffs,” head coach Toby Wilson said. “At the time, we felt like that was a bit of a stretch for us.”
The Wildcats started the season with a loss to Chilton County in overtime.
“After that loss, it became a challenge to us as coaches to get the kids to understand they were not a team that was going to give in an accept losing,” Wilson said.
Shelby County bounced back, pulling off six wins in a row to make the playoffs. The Wildcats fell to Calera in overtime during their last regular season game.
Both of Shelby County’s playoff games came down to the final seconds. After a scoreless first half during the Wildcats’ first playoff game, opponent Bibb County took a 6-0 lead with four minutes remaining in the game. The Wildcats drove the ball down field inside the 10-yard line, setting up a fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line with five seconds remaining on the clock. Shelby County scored on a quarterback sneak as time expired, punching in a 2-point conversion to win the game.
The victory set up a rematch with an unbeaten Calera team that outscored its opponents 274-26 throughout the regular season.
“We knew they had an explosive team,” Wilson said. “Our plan was to slow the game down, take care of the ball and play good defense.”
The Wildcats stopped the Eagles on their first drive. Shelby County took over, taking the ball down field and finding the endzone for a touchdown. A 2-point conversion gave the Wildcats a 8-0 lead. Calera scored on its ensuing drive, but a missed 2-point conversion attempt gave Shelby County a 8-6 lead going into half time.
Shelby County was stopped on its first possession of the second half, and Calera capitalized, scoring on a long run to give the Eagles a 12-8 lead entering the fourth quarter. Starting on their own 40-yard line, the Wildcats drove the ball down field and scored with 3:30 remaining in the fourth quarter to take a 14-12 lead. The Eagles began their final drive down the field, reaching the Shelby County 10-yard line with one minute remaining in play until, on second-and-goal from the 7-yard line, the Wildcats stripped the ball from an Eagle ball carrier to seal the Shelby County win.
“This group of players and coaches has a special chemistry and a flare for the dramatic,” Wilson said. “We aren’t the kind of team that was going to line up and blow you off the ball or outrun you. They were just a group of kids that showed up every practice, wanted to learn, played their hearts out and had a lot of fun in the process. This is one of those seasons that we will remember for a long time. Our hats go off to Calera. They have a great team and a great program.”
Team members include: Alexander Tyus, Will Reddell, Jaxon Griffith, Alston Carlisle, CJ Richardson, Jace Bolan, Austin Partridge, Grant Robinson, Austin Wilson, Keith Castleberry, Bradley Horton, Thomas Gable, Gabe King, Ryder Cadenhead, Cole Sykes, Kenton Varden, Bennett Berens, AJ Green, Jacob McGaha, Montana Wages, Deacon Fallowfield, Kenterious Wyatt, Bryson Prosser.
Wilson was aided by assistant coaches Anthony Robinson, Austin Castleberry, Brandon Sykes, Louis Garcia, Pete Dupree, Robin Berens and Wayne Horton.