Shelby County football predictions: Week 4

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

Week 3 record: 10-1

Overall record: 28-5

With the high school football season now in full swing, there is no more easing in as we saw last week. With region play now underway, teams are giving it their all in hopes of earning a playoff spot this season, which means having your best each week is a must.

That will be no different this Friday with four teams still undefeated on the season and others looking to start cementing themselves as a threat during another action-packed night.    

Thompson vs. Spain Park (Game of the Week)

This matchup has plenty of intrigue for many reasons, but any Class 7A, Region 3 battle featuring county teams is always going to be a big one. Through in the addition of three of last year’s Spain Park players leaving the school for Thompson, and the rivalry has added meaning for each. The Warriors, however, have the upper hand going into the game thanks to three consecutive shutouts to start the season. Thompson has beaten the first three opponents by a combined 168-0 after last week’s 58-0 win against Tuscaloosa County. Spain Park has gone the opposite way after a 37-13 win against Huntsville to open the season.

The Jags have lost 42-8 to Briarwood and 38-17 to Hewitt-Trussville since. But early, they have played well. They trailed 14-8 at the half against the Lions and were tied 17-17 midway through the third quarter last week. The defense, however, has faltered late, while the offense seems to hit a brick wall. Now, they’re going up against a Thompson team that is playing lights out on both sides. It is tough to see the Jags slowing down the Warriors’ offense, while nobody seems to have answers for the defense. Spain Park will hope to slow the pace of the game down with its option offense, which will keep the defense fresh, but it’s a tall task to sustain drives against a defense that has given up less than 200 combined yards through three games. Thompson 42, Spain Park 10

Oak Mountain at Vestavia Hills

It doesn’t get much better than this one for Oak Mountain. With the big three of Hoover, Hewitt-Trussville and Spain Park all still ahead on the schedule, this is crucial for the Eagles and their chances at battling for a playoff spot or even one of the top-three spots in the region. They have to feel good about their chances from a confidence standpoint because of how well they’re playing in the second half of games. At 3-0, Oak Mountain has outscored its first three opponents 64-6 in the second half of games. That, compared with a defense that has given up just 26 combined points this season and 13 in the previous 10 quarters. Now, the Eagles get a 0-3 Vestavia Hills team that has scored seven points or less in each game. The Rebels have faced a tough schedule with Mountain Brook, Homewood and Hoover, but they’re struggling too much offensively to feel confident in them scoring enough on this Oak Mountain defense. Plus, if it is a tight game, the Eagles have shown what they can do in the second half and will hope that carries them to a second 4-0 start in a row. Oak Mountain 21, Vestavia Hills 10

Calera vs. Chilton County

Bouncing back from a loss is always tough, but it’s even more difficult off a heartbreaking loss. That’s exactly the challenge Calera will have ahead this week after losing a 20-7 halftime lead against Pelham last week to fall 34-30 in the region opener for the Eagles’ second consecutive loss. But if they look at the positive, the loss may actually have a positive effect. The offense put together a special night with Kobe Prentice and Braylyn Farrington both totaling near 150 yards and Preston Stokes throwing for more than 300. It was a clinic, especially in the first half, and one that will challenge the best defenses in the area. Now 1-2, the Eagles will take on a 1-1 Chilton County team coming off a bye week. Calera won this game 24-21 last season. This year, both seem slightly improved, but it’s tough for me to see the Tigers having the defense to stop what Calera can put together offensively. The depth defensively, and the stamina in the second half will have to continue to get better, but the Eagles should have enough after what they showed against a talented team last week. Calera 34, Chilton County 24 

Chelsea vs. Homewood 

There may not be a better 0-3 team than the Chelsea Hornets, and now they find themselves in an important situation early in the season. The Hornets have been so close and are coming off a gut-wrenching loss to Briarwood. Leading 35-21 with six minutes to play, they gave up 21 unanswered, including a touchdown in overtime, to lose 42-35. That said, they almost took down the No. 4 team in the state, and that’s something that holds weight. Chelsea played a strong first half against Oak Mountain, a strong second half against Helena and now a strong game against Briarwood. The fitting next step in that series is to win. This week, the Hornets will get a Homewood team who is 2-1 with a three-point win, a two-point win and a 45-18 loss to McAdory last week. The Patriots are a true threat for not only a playoff spot but for the region title in this region. That said, Chelsea’s offense is getting better each week with Hayden Garrison, Matt Grey, Thomas Simpson and Cooper Griffin all making big plays. That, combined with the Hornets on the brink of beating one of the state’s best teams and needing this game like a playoff game gives me a sneaky suspicion that they may play with the needed edge to win this game. Chelsea 31, Homewood 28

Helena vs. Benjamin Russell

The Helena Huskies have been hit hard by COVID-19 the last two weeks, but it has been next man up. The Huskies now sit at 3-0 after winning a physical 20-10 battle against Wetumpka last week. What has been impressive about Helena so far? Simple, the defense. The Huskies have given up 0, 14 and 10 in the first three for an average of eight points per game. Now, they’ll take on a 0-3 Benjamin Russell team that they beat 48-14 last year. With the defense playing so well and the offense getting better each week thanks to Mac Turner, J.C. Sivley, Jordan Washington and the offensive line, Helena should improve to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in region play this Friday. Helena 35, Benjamin Russell 14

Pelham at Stanhope Elmore 

Last week was massive for the Pelham Panthers. As the defending region champs, the Panthers overcame a 20-7 deficit at the half and some offensive woes dating back to the week before by outscoring Calera 27-10 in the second half. With hopes of winning another region title, that was a must-win for the Panthers with several difficult games still ahead. They are now 2-1 on the season with a trip to 2-1 Stanhope Elmore on the horizon. Stanhope beat Selma 37-0 and Benjamin Russell 42-20 and lost 29-0 to Prattville. That leads me to think this will be a tight battle. The biggest key for Pelham is building off what the offense did in the second half last week. Will Lankford finally seemed to find his groove, Darius Copeland was dangerous and both Christain Pritchett and Jake Fox stepped up in a big way. That, combined with the defense taking a turn to what it was expected to be has to have the team confident but humbled going into this week. I don’t have a good lean one way or another going into this game, but the Panthers showed me enough in the second half last week to help me regain my faith in them, but they have to start faster than they have the last two weeks. Pelham 35, Stanhope Elmore 31

Briarwood at Woodlawn

It doesn’t get any more exciting than what Briarwood was able to accomplish last week. Trailing by 14 with six minutes left, the Lions scored two touchdowns to end regulation, then the only touchdown in overtime to win 42-35. That now has Briarwood at 3-0 overall this season with the team’s first sign of adversity. It’s a moment that can go a long way in helping this team chase down its goal of a state championship. Now, they’ll get a Woodlawn team that is 1-2, but against its best two opponents has lost 50-0 and 49-0. Briarwood has scored 41 or 42 in all three games this season, which means it’s tough to see the Lions not scoring in the 40s again this week. Briarwood 49, Woodlawn 7

Shelby County at Selma

In Zeb Ellison’s return home, the Shelby County Wildcats picked up a 35-22 win against Sipsey Valley and are now 1-1 on the season and more importantly 1-0 in region play. Now, the Wildcats hit the road this week in hopes of a 2-0 start in the region with a matchup against 1-2 Selma, who has given up 37 and 44 in losses and also just six in a 12-6 win against Marbury. This is an unpredictable game because of the unknown of what we’ll get form both sides, but the improvement from the Wildcats has been encouraging. Selma has struggled scoring points so far this season with 22 combined, while the Wildcats have struggled at times defensively. Something has to give there, but Connor Aderholt’s hold on the quarterback position seems to be shifting to a difference. Shelby County 27, Selma 20 

Montevallo at Bibb County

The Montevallo Bulldogs won’t have time to sit around and sulk after last week’s 41-10 loss to American Christian. The Bulldogs now hit the road for a battle with Bibb County this Friday, who finished second in the region last year. This game could very well determine which of these two has home-field advantage in the playoffs, making it an important one. Montevallo is now 2-1, while Bibb County enters at 3-0 and has given up 20 or less for 10.7 points per game. Joseph Anderson still totaled more than 100 yards on the ground last week for the third consecutive week, but the Bulldogs struggled to find consistencies across the board. The way Bibb County’s defense is playing, that could be an issue again this week for Montevallo. I do think this can be a tight battle, but the Bulldogs have to come out early and get some confidence on offense to play with a lead. Montevallo 14, Bibb County 28 

Vincent vs. Horseshoe Bend

With 1:30 to play last week, it looked as if Vincent had come up with a big stop, but a penalty kept Ranburne’s drive alive, which led to a final-minute score and a 36-35 loss for the Yellow Jackets. Depth caught up with them after leading that game 29-7 at the half. Now, they have to find a way to bounce back and not get comfortable no matter the lead. Sitting at 2-1 (0-1), the Jackets are entering a two-game stretch in which they won both last year, and they should have good chances again this season. Horseshoe Bend is 1-2 with that lone win being a forfeit win. They have struggled to score with seven and 21 points in the two wins, while Vincent’s defense has been playing well aside from the fourth quarter last week. With the defensive presence and both Jermarey Lawson and Tray Youngblood playing well, expect the Yellow Jackets to pick up a bounce-back win. Vincent 35, Horseshoe Bend 20

Cornerstone vs. Crenshaw

Coming off a forfeit last week, the Chargers will be tasked with taking on the defending state champions from the region last season. And while Crenshaw doesn’t look quite as potent as last year’s group, it’s still a 2-1 team with the lone loss being a forfeit. The defense giving up 10 and seven is the worrisome part for Cornerstone. Cornerstone 10, Crenshaw 31 

Coosa Valley vs. Lakeside

Coosa Valley is clearly taking steps in the right direction after last week’s 22-7 loss to Crenshaw Christian. A game the Rebels lost 67-0 the year before, this year’s effort was light year’s better. Similar to improvement from a matchup against Pickens Academy the week before. Coosa Valley, however, is 0-3 on the season and looking for its first win. This game offers the Rebels their best chance at a win, but they’ll have to prove they’ve turned the corner. Coosa Valley 13, Lakeside 21

Evangel vs. North River

After last week’s forfeit win, the Evangel Lightning are now 3-1 on the season and should pick up a fourth win this Friday. North River enters 0-4 with losses of 49-22, 84-7, 36-9 and 60-8. Evangel’s offense is different this year than year’s past as more of a physical, running team, but the Lightning should rack up a season high in this one. Evangel 48, North River 10