Way-too-early football predictions; Part 11

Published 3:44 pm Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Jamarius Mayfield and the Shelby County offense will look to continue the process toward success that Heath Childers started last season in his first year as head coach. (File)

Jamarius Mayfield and the Shelby County offense will look to continue the process toward success that Heath Childers started last season in his first year as head coach. (File)

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor

Honestly, at this point, these predictions aren’t even that early, considering the season is only a few weeks away from starting. But in the spirit of cohesion and consistency, part 11 of the way-too-early football prediction series turns to the last public school yet to be discussed in the county, Shelby County High School.

The Wildcats, it is no secret, have really struggled as of late. They haven’t won a playoff game since 2008, when they amassed an impressive 10-0 record and made an appearance in the second round of the playoffs. Shelby County last made the playoffs in 2009, and has since spiraled into the basement of 5A. In the last three seasons, the Wildcats have posted a win-loss record of 5-25.

That’s the bad news. The good news, second year head coach Heath Childers seems to have the program on the rise. In his first season as a head coach, his squad posted the highest points per game total for Shelby County since 2011, and gave up the fewest points per game in any season since 2009. The Wildcats won more games in 2014 than in the previous two years combined, and won the last two games of the season by an average score of 40-17. Now, coming up on Childers’ second year at the helm, what’s in store for the Wildcats from Columbiana? Let’s take a quick peek.

Shelby County’s most consistent problem last season was a lack of any semblance of a passing attack. Childers’ runs a Wing-T offense, which, at its most effective, is a run-heavy offense that utilizes misdirection and counters to keep the defense guessing and off-balance. However, when teams stacked nine guys in the box and dared the Wildcats to throw, which happened often, they couldn’t execute. In 2015, look for Shelby County to look to the air more often in an attempt to counterbalance its run-heavy attack.

What this means is the ball will, hopefully, be in the hands of Deon Carter often. Carter, a 6-foot-1-inch senior, has game changing, breakaway speed coupled with the subtle, rare ability to make people miss without looking like he’s trying to. Mason Blythe, a rising junior, who was under center last season, and Chadwyn Russ, an upstart sophomore, have been splitting snaps at quarterback this summer, and will be responsible for putting a little more air into Shelby County’s rush-heavy attack.

In the rushing game, cousins Jamarious and Keyvontae Mayfield will see the majority of snaps along with Trent Sullivan. There will be a plethora of names and faces in the backfield for Shelby County this season, but these will be the three most prominent and responsible for moving the chains.

Way-too-early prediction: Shelby County is the northernmost school in a region that includes Tallassee, Central Clay County and Beauregard, all known for their speed. Shelby County has traditionally not been blessed with the same caliber of speed as these other schools, therefore has a smaller margin for error. Childers has this team on the right track, and Shelby County will win more games than last season, and is in the process of closing that talent gap, but is still a year away from making a push into the playoffs. The Wildcats will win five games, which will be a successful season.