FOOTBALL JAMBOREE ROUNDUP: County squads work out plays before regular season
By DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Editor
While quite a few teams across Shelby County kicked off their regular season Aug. 22, quite a few teams were participating in exhibition jamborees in hopes of ironing out the last few creases in their playbooks before the season began. They are as follows:
The Eagles took on the Hazel Green Trojans in a preseason scrimmage at home on Aug. 22. Oak Mountain fell behind early, but roared back, taking a 27-14 win over the Trojans.
Hazel Green got on the board first, using a one-yard run to take a 7-0 lead following the extra point with 11:41 left in the first half. It proved to be the only score of the half, and the Trojans took the lead into the break, 7-0
The Eagles responded with a touchdown of their own in after the intermission, scoring when Josh Gaines broke a 28-yard run for a score. D.J. Garver tacked on the extra point, and the game was tied at 7-7 with 10:34 left in the third.
Hazel Green answered late in the quarter, scoring on a 19-yard pass with 3:27 left in the third. The Trojans put the extra point through, pulling ahead 14-7.
The Eagles answered early in the fourth with an 11-yard touchdown by Coleman Reeves. The Jackson Ellis extra point was no good, and the Eagles found themselves behind 14-13.
The deficit didn’t last long, as the Eagles punched the ball into the endzone less a little more than two minutes later when Kenny Krishak took a one-yard run in. The extra point by Garver was on point, and the Eagles took a 20-14 lead.
The Eagles’s defense held the six-point lead until less than two minutes to go in the contest, as Krishak scored another rushing touchdown — this time from seven yards out — to seal a 27-14 win.
Warren Shader paced the way for the Eagles through the air, going 3-for-6 with 35 yards, while Harold Shader rushed for 74 yards. Defensively, Josh Jones and Christion Jones had four tackles apiece.
The Huskies took to their home field for a split jamboree against John Carroll and Ramsay High. The Huskies didn’t take the first contest, falling to Ramsay 6-0 but taking a 3-0 win over John Carroll, but head coach Watt Parker said he was okay with how his team played given the short time they had to work together.
“I thought the defense played real well,” he said. “(We’re) a little disappointed in the offensive production, (but) we played a lot of guys. I thought we did a good job kicking.”
Parker was also quick to praise the individual efforts of a few players.
“Overall, we’re pleased with the effort. Josh Sanders had a good game,” he said. “Josh Watson played really well. Brett Granger had a really good game.”
Parker said he knew the team had to focus on their opening contest against Shelby County on Aug. 29.
“We’ve got to work hard,” he said. “We’ve got to be ready for a very physical Shelby County team.”
Despite a strong effort, the Hornets came up short against Mountain Brook in a road jamboree on Aug. 21.
The AHSAA Class 6A Hornets took on the 7A Spartans, posing a strong defensive threat, but ultimately falling 14-7 in a half of varsity on varsity competition.
“We turned the ball over three times in the half,” head coach Chris Elmore said. “The defense played real well. We made too many mistakes on offense.”
Elmore also said that the current quarterback battle between Chase Wilson and Matt Marquet was still under evaluation.
“No one has separated (themselves),” he said. “It’s not a clean cut difference.”
Elmore also said he felt the squad lining up against the higher-classification opponent helped the Hornets in terms of sizing up their readiness for the season.
“We said ‘Let’s play elite programs and see where we stack up,’” he said.
Elmore also said the team was unsatisfied with playing those larger opponents — including a 35-27 loss against Vestavia Hills — close, but coming up short in the end.
“We’re not satisfied with almost,” he said.
The Hornets open with Briarwood Aug. 29.
COOSA VALLEY ACADEMY
The Rebels took on Restoration Academy and long-time rival Cornerstone Christian in a four-way jamboree at home Aug. 22. The Rebels also hosted Kingwood Christian, but did not face the Lions in the two 12-minute, running clock periods.
The Rebels didn’t take either contest, but head coach Bob Taylor said he felt the team learned from the jamborees.
“It was good for us,” he said. “We’re getting better, just trying to see what fits together. (Defensively), it was good for us to see two types of offense.”
Taylor went on to say that the team was trying to get up to speed after his hiring midway through the postseason.
“We’re behind, but I guess everyone could say that,” he said. “With us not really having a spring (practice) that’s tough. The guys have done a great job learning what we’re trying to do.”
The Rebels have a tough task ahead, opening by taking on perennial power Edgewood at home on Aug. 29.
“When you play Edgewood, you don’t have to get (the players) up,” he said. “It’s a tough assignment, but if the kids continue to work, we’ll be okay.”
The Kingwood Christian Lions travelled to Harpersville to take on both Restoration and Cornerstone in the CVA jamboree Aug. 22.
The Lions tied the powerhouse Bulldogs in the opener, 6-6 before falling to Cornerstone 6-0.
Head coach Steve Birmingham said he was pleased with the effort his squad put together.
“We did what we needed to do,” he said. “We saw some strengths (and) weaknesses.”
Birmingham said the Lions’ numbers were down this season, and he felt the heat and humidity started to take a toll on the team.
“I would say the (heat and humidity) zapped our guys and drove the point home that we’ve got to get in shape,” he said. “I was very proud of them. They showed a lot discipline, a lot of heart to keep fighting in that heat. It was tough.”
Birmingham also said the team’s ability to compete with a team like Restoration gave them confidence going forward.
“It was a confidence boost,” he said. “I feel we’ve got a team that can compete. As long as we stay healthy, we can bring a team that compete.”
The Lions travel to Lee-Scott Academy Aug. 29.
The Chargers went just 1-10 in 2013, but doubled their win total in one night at the CVA jamboree on Aug. 22.
Cornerstone took on Kingwood and Coosa Valley, winning both games by a score of 6-0 and 16-0, respectively.
While they didn’t keep stats, head coach Tim Smith said he and his staff were impressed with the effort shown by the team.
“The defense really played well,” he said. “Matthew Fondren probably played the best game he’s had since he’s been at Cornerstone. I think a light bulb went off. He was all over the place.”
While the games were broken down into two 12-minute running clock quarters, Smith said the experience was good for the squad.
“It’s good for their mindset going into a big region game,” he said.
Smith said he could see an improvement on the offensive front.
“We got Wade Martin back,” he said. “Our whole offensive line…played real well.”
The Chargers now set their sights on the Chambers Academy Rebels, who will come to Columbiana for a region opener on Aug. 29.