Briarwood has balanced attack against Shades Valley to remain unbeaten

Published 11:28 pm Friday, October 1, 2021

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor 

NORTH SHELBY – Christopher Vizzina and Ethan Anderson stepped up offensively, while the defense found its rhythm on Friday night, Oct. 1, as the Briarwood Lions scored 28 unanswered points to take down Shades Valley 28-7.

The Lions got four touchdowns from Vizzina to help them overcome an early 7-0 deficit, while the defense didn’t give up another point the rest of the way to help the team improve to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in region play.

“I’m proud of our guys for the fight they had, the determination that we’re not perfect and we showed that tonight plenty of times. But at the same time, we’re able to keep overcoming our mistakes. Now, it’s let’s enjoy the victory because they’re hard to come by, and let’s get ready for our next opponent.”

Early on, Briarwood did struggle to find any momentum offensively, which led to a quick deficit.

After the two teams traded punts on their first two drives of the game, Shades Valley struck first when they hit a short pass that ended with a 79-yard touchdown from Jordan Pearson to put the Mounties on top 7-0 with 5:44 left in the first quarter.

“It was one of those where we were like ‘Guys, settle down and play,’” Forester said. “I mean, it’s a simple game if we’ll do our assignments each play. So we started focusing a little bit more. We played our game instead of letting the emotions of the crowd dictate anything for us.”

And that’s exactly what the Lions did.

That became the only big play through the first seven drives of the game, as the two teams punted the ball on six of the first seven drives.

But a persistent Briarwood team finally cracked their first chunk play of the night when Vizzina hit a streaking Anderson up the middle for a 71-yard touchdown pass to even the score with 8:07 to play in the half.

“We’ve had multiple situations this year where we start of slow but we’ve gained our speed back and gained confidence, and that’s what happened,” Vizzina said. “Just from our experience this year, we got back on track and played well.”

The Lions’ defense went to work from there and continued allowing the offense to make plays.

Briarwood capitalized on its final drive of the half when Vizzina started feeling it with his arm.

The junior quarterback completed six passes on the drive and capped off the 10-play drive with a 9-yard touchdown run with 13 seconds left to send the Lions into the half with a 14-7 lead thanks to 14 unanswered points.

“I knew our offense would calm down and was prepared,” Anderson said. “We stayed calm, executed and did what we had to.”

Briarwood also got the ball to start the second half and didn’t let up with the swing in momentum.

The Lions opened the second half on a 13-play drive that eventually ended with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Vizzina to Anderson to make it 21-7 midway through the third.

“It was huge,” Forester said of scoring just before the half and then to start the second half. “Your goal is to be the first one to score, and we didn’t do that. Then you want to be the last one to score in the half, and then you want to be the first one to score coming out of half, especially when you have the ball. We didn’t do that last week, but we did tonight. That was a big one where we saw maturity.”

Briarwood then finished off its 28 unanswered when Vizzina broke loose for 75 yards on a run up the right sideline to make it 28-7 with 5:28 to play.

“Christopher did a great job, our offensive line gave him lots of time, he could step up in the pocket, and he had some real keys there that were successful,” Forester said.

Briarwood will now gear up for a trip to Mountain Brook next Thursday, which will be a battle of undefeated teams for first in the region.

“It’s a name I haven’t said all year, but it was nice to say it tonight after this win,” Forester said of Mountain Brook. “It’s something our team is taking to hear, and so we want to be ready to go out, and we want to fight our guts out.”