Briarwood falls at Vestavia Hills in jamboree

NEAL EMBRY/FOR THE REPORTER

VESTAVIA HILLS — Briarwood Christian High School began their first year in Class 6A with an exhibition game at Thompson-Reynolds Stadium in Vestavia Hills Friday night.

In a game that featured two of the most successful head coaches in Alabama high school history, Buddy Anderson’s Vestavia Rebels downed Fred Yancey’s Briarwood Lions 24-14.

The Lions lost a fumble six minutes into the game, giving Vestavia good field position.  However, the Rebels were unable to convert, a trend that would continue for both teams throughout the game.

Both teams focused on the run game early, with Briarwood QB Walker Lott bouncing off tacklers and making plays for the Lions.  The Rebels lined up in their traditional power-I formation and pounded the ball up the middle.

With a little less than ten minutes left in the first half, the Lions went to the air, and Lott got the Lions on the board with a touchdown pass to tight end Whit Pittman.

Vestavia answered on their next drive, running the ball down the field, taking advantage of a strong offensive line.  However, the Lions defense held the Rebels to a field goal.

Briarwood seemed to have found an answer to Vestavia’s renowned running game until, with three minutes left in the half, the Rebels pulled off a long run to put them in scoring position.  One minute later, the Rebels were in the end zone and on top of the scoreboard, 10-7.

The second half started with several costly penalties by both teams.  Vestavia faced a fourth-and-30 before Briarwood was called for roughing the kicker on the subsequent punt.

Vestavia was given a fresh set of downs near midfield, but on first down, Briarwood’s R.J. Jennings burst through the offensive line for a sack, igniting the Lion’s sideline.  The Rebels didn’t gain another first down on the drive.

After both teams went three and out on back-to-back drives, Vestavia once again found a hole in the running game and took the ball 27 yards to the end zone for a score.

Vestavia’s last points came off an interception returned for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.  Briarwood completed the scoring with a touchdown run with just over a minute left.

Yancey said he felt his team performed well, but had several areas in which they could improve before the regular season starts.

“I thought our guys competed well,” he said. “They had a real good team, but we showed some good sparks also.  I’d like our offensive line to continue to improve and become dominant.  I’d like our defense to be more reckless and understand their offense even better.”

Briarwood goes on the road against Chelsea to start the regular season next Friday at 7 p.m.