Briarwood makes statement in first-round win

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY – It’s a phrase that has been repeated by the Briarwood players and coaches since before the season even started—win a state championship.

On Thursday, Nov. 9, the Lions opened that playoff run against Crossville in the first round on their home turf and made more than a statement of what their goals were in a 62-0 thumping of the visiting Lions.

“The thing I’m proud of is that the guys came out really excited to play tonight,” Yancey said. “That’s the way you gotta hit the playoffs. No matter who you play or what the situation is, if you don’t hit the playoffs excited that’s a bad flag, but we came out ready to play.”

It took just one play for Briarwood’s offense to show they weren’t going to let their goals of a state championship in 2017 go by the wayside as quarterback Michael Hiers took the snap, sat in the pocket and waited for his go-to target Carson Eddy to make a cut to the post deep down field.

Hiers fired the ball some 40 yards in the air before it found the hands of Eddy for a 55-yard touchdown pass to take a 7-0 lead in just 10 seconds.

Yancey said that actually wasn’t something that was discussed as being the plan coming into the game.

“Coach (Bobby) Kerley, my offensive coordinator, he deserves all the credit on that play,” Yancey said. “He noticed (Crossville) got out here late and he felt like they wouldn’t be ready quickly, and he was right. We caught them just a little discombobulated early.”

It was all Briarwood from there as they went on to post 55 points in the first half to take a 55-0 halftime lead, before finishing the game off with seven more unanswered points in the final 24 minutes of the game.

After scoring on the first drive in one play, the Lions scored in just four plays on their second drive of the game. J.R. Tran-Reno carried three times for 24 yards to start the drive. Then Eddy caught a swing pass in the backfield on the fourth play and was off to the races for a 55-yard touchdown to make the score 14-0 in the first 1:39 of the game.

Eddy and Hiers had 103 yards and two touchdowns in two pass plays to ignite the offense in the early going.

On Crossville’s ensuing drive, Carson Donnelley grabbed a pick-6 on third and long to extend the lead to 21-0. Briarwood added two more touchdowns in the opening quarter, both of which were runs of 4 and 6 yards from Tran-Reno.

The Lions added three more scores before the half, one of which was a 55-yard punt return by Andrew Sherrod, the other two were Tran-Reno rushing touchdowns as Briarwood took a 55-0 lead into the break.

Tran-Reno had 109 yards rushing and four touchdowns in the first half, while Eddy had 127 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns before intermission. The Lions outscored Crossville 299-32 in total yards in the first half.

The lone touchdown in the second half came on a 24-yard touchdown run from freshman running back Andrew Hill after Andrew Chipper Jones had recovered a fumble to set Briarwood up in good field position.

With Lee-Huntsville beating Hayden 31-21 on Thursday night as well, Briarwood will travel to Huntsville on Friday, Nov. 17, to take on the No. 3 seed in the second round of the playoffs.

“We actually wanted to travel next week,” Yancey said after the first-round win. “That should bring us back home in the third round should we do good up in Huntsville.”

The win marked Briarwood’s second biggest in school history with their largest being a 67-0 win.