Shelby County off to first 2-0 start since 2008

Lamont Bush breaks free down the right side line for one of his many big runs on the night. He and fellow running backs Keyvontae Mayfield and Michael Norwood led Shelby County to a 49-35 win over St. Claire County. (Reporter photo/Alec Etheredge)

Shelby County junior running back Lamont Bush breaks free down the right sideline for one of his many big runs on the night. He and fellow running backs Keyvontae Mayfield and Michael Norwood led the Wildcats to a 49-32 win over St. Claire County. (Reporter photo/Alec Etheredge)

By ALEC ETHEREDGE

COLUMBIANA – Shelby County got off to its first 2-0 start since 2008 behind a strong defensive performance and a heavy dose of running backs to beat the St. Clair County Saints in a class 5A region 5 matchup by a score of 49-32 on Sept. 2.

“Two years ago we started out 0-2, last year we started out 1-1 and 0-1 in region play, so it’s really big for us to start out 2-0 and get that first region win so early on,” said Wildcats head coach Heath Childers.

The scoring started out on the second drive of the game for the Wildcats as they went on a 13 play 81-yard drive in 7:31.

After a false start and a and fumbled snap that looked to have stalled the drive, Shelby County had 3rd and 13 on the 35-yard line, when Lamont Bush busted down the right hash-marks for a 28-yard gain and first down.

Another fumble two plays later led to a 3rd and 3 before Lamont Bush broke open again to give them a 1st and goal from the 3-yard line. Michael Norwood punched in one of his three touchdowns a play later to put the Wildcats up 7-0.

That lead didn’t last long as Saints quarterback Michael Fisher completed a 54-yard pass to a receiver that put St. Clair inside the five. One play later they would punch it in, but miss the extra point and the score was quickly 7-6.

Shelby County made a living out of long drives on the night going on another 13 play 87-yard drive in 7:46 on their next possession.

At one point on the drive Keyvontae Mayfield broke free for a 60-yard touchdown run that was negated by a very questionable illegal use of hands call. Instead of a touchdown they ended up with 3rd and 10 from the 34-yard line, but Mayfield came right back at the Saints defense and had a 14-yard run to keep the drive alive.

Norwood would add an additional 12-yard run before Mayfield capped off the drive with a well-earned 7-yard touchdown run to put the Wildcats up 14-6.

After a fourth down conversion with a couple of minutes left in the first half by St. Clair on their own 45, things began to get a little chippy when a few bad calls went against Shelby County.

Coaches were running out on the field yelling at the refs and Childers eventually had to call a timeout to talk with the officials and calm his team down. The team could’ve lost their composure and even though they gave up a touchdown to cut their lead to 14-12, they wouldn’t let it affect the rest of the game.

“My coaches and players know that there are going to be times in the game where there will be calls made by the officials that we aren’t going to like,” Childers said. “We just have to stay focused and can’t let that take away from what we’re trying to do.”

The second half started with a 57-yard run by Justin May of St. Clair County to give the Saints their first lead of the game at 18-14, which was short lived.

Shelby County would answer in a quick 6-play drive led by a 31-yard run from Lamont Bush and capped off by a Norwood touchdown to put the Wildcats back on top 21-18, and they wouldn’t relinquish the lead the rest of the game.

The defense forced a three and out on St. Claire’s next offensive possession and a short punt would lead to great field position for Shelby County.

They would capitalize on three-play drive that featured back-to-back big plays from Jeremiah Crenshaw. First a 20-yard run and then one play later a 26-yard reception for the sophomore running back. Norwood would cap the drive off with a two-yard dive into the end zone to put Shelby County up 28-18.

St. Claire would respond and score quickly in 1:10 to cut the lead to 28-25, but after that the Shelby County defense really stepped up and forced several three and outs, fourth down stops and even a couple of fumbles.

The game was sealed when Wildcats quarterback, Chadwyn Russ ran in a 36-yard touchdown to put his team up 35-25 with 7:30 left.

“He can run. He’s got great feet and good speed,” Childers said. “We’ve got several plays designed for him because we know he can make some plays and its great to see it happen.”

The Wildcats were led by a tandem of running backs that continue to impress Childers. Keyvontae Mayfield, Michael Norwood and Lamont Bush combined for 394 of Shelby County’s 483 yards on the ground.

Mayfield had himself a night running the ball 19 times for 186 yards and three touchdowns. That brings his total through two games to 320 yards on the ground and four touchdowns.

Norwood added an additional three touchdowns on the ground as well.

“They are a good group of backs and a good group of kids,” Childers said. “Not a single one of them is selfish, and I just can’t say enough about how well they’re playing, and the scary thing is they are still improving.”

Shelby County heads to Moody Friday, Sept. 9 in their second area game of the season. The Blue Devils are 1-1, but haven’t scored more than eight points in either of their first two games.