Calera has strong showing in spring game

By BRANDON SUMRALL | For the Reporter

The Calera Eagles varsity football team put an exclamation point on the end of this year’s spring football schedule with an impressive 38-7 road victory over the Chilton County Tigers on Friday, May 19.

While Calera head coach Andrew Zow was happy to pick up the win, he also saw room for improvement going in to the summer break.

“We need to work up front on both sides of the ball and on our second level on the defensive side,” Zow said. “We just have to go back to the table and see who wants to play tough-nose football.”

While summer workouts and fall practice will go a long way to determining each team’s success next season, Friday night’s action afforded each coaching staff a glimpse into the future of what to expect this season and what improvements need to be made.

With the Tigers taking the opening coin toss and electing to defer their option to the second half, the Eagles started their first possession of the game at their own 25-yard line. A second-and-10 pass from Cornelius Brown to Dee Woodson for 16 yards gave the Eagles a first down and got the offense moving.

Pass completions by Brown of 9, 11, 7 and 16 yards moved the Calera offense down inside the Chilton red zone where Terry Burrells capped off the drive on a 1-yard touchdown run. With Zach Ford adding the PAT, the Eagles took an early 7-0 lead.

A quick three-and-out by Chilton County saw the Tigers punt, which set Calera up for its second drive of the night, this time starting at the Eagles’ own 35-yard line.

A 14-yard scamper by Brown gave the Eagles a first down near midfield and was followed by a 33-yard connection from Brown to Quindarius Crews that set Calera up with a first-and-10 at the Tigers’ 18. Four plays later Brown again connected with Crews, but this time it led to a touchdown to extend Calera’s lead to 14-0 very early on.

The Tiger offense finally showed their first signs of life thanks to a 30-yard run by quarterback Shikeem Laister. However, a fumble on the next play fell into the hands of Calera’s Markell Kelley to set the Eagles up with a first-and-10 at their own 40-yard line.

Brown again went to work with pass completions of 26 and 12 yards along with runs of 8 and 6 yards to move the Eagles’ offense back down inside the Chilton County red zone. A 6-yard run by Brown on third down came up just short of another Calera first down and set up a 47-yard field goal attempt that fell just short.

On the ensuing Chilton County drive, Mason Dennis put Chilton County on the board with a 13-yard touchdown run to bring the Tigers within seven points.

Chilton’s defense finally stepped up during the next drive, but Calera was still abl to tack on three points when Zach Ford put a 22-yard field goal between the uprights.

The rest of the game was all Calera. On the Eagle’s next drive, they marched 75 yards and got a 1-yard touchdown carry from Burrells to go up 24-7 at the half.

If 75 yards wasn’t enough, Calera’s first drive of the second half went 92 yards and was capped off on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Brown to Dee Woodson for the 31-7 lead.

With both teams electing to play deep into their benches during the second half, a 27-yard touchdown run by Calera’s Chris Cotton was the closing highlight for the Eagles, who went on to win by the final of 38-7.

While Brown may have been the spark behind the Calera offense tonight, Zow said there were plenty of positives to take away.

“I will give Brown credit, he had a pretty good game, but I think overall is what we are looking at. He is going to be impressive, he is 6-foot-5, 180 something pounds, smart and can deliver the ball,” Zow said. “We have a good receiving corps and several young running backs. Terry Burrells did well tonight running the ball, and our younger guys got in there and ran the ball a bit which was good.

“Overall, offensive line and defensive line, I think if we fix a few things we will be fine. I am interested to see how Zach Ford continues to improve in kicking the extra points and field goals. It is going to be an interesting summer. We will get back to it and hopefully we can improve. It’s spring, we had 10 days to prepare for it, hopefully we can fix a few things and come back this fall improved.”

If Calera wants to be as good as the talent suggests they can be, they’ll have to do it in a very difficult region after moving up to Class 6A, where they’ll join the likes of dominant schools like Opelika and Wetumpka, both of which made deep playoff runs last year.

Brown finished the game for Calera with 344 yards passing on 38 attempts and 24 completions with two touchdowns. Crews and Woodson each went over 100 yards receiving with Crews finishing with 122 yards and a touchdown and Woodson finishing with 111 yards and a touchdown.