Schedule Breakdown: Shelby County prepares for bounce-back year

Published 4:30 pm Thursday, July 27, 2023

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

As Zeb Ellison enters his third season at the helm of Shelby County, things are looking up around the Wildcats campus.

After a disappointing season last year, Shelby County is back and ready to make a statement, and they have a schedule full of opportunities to do just that as they seek a return to the postseason.

The Wildcats open their season with back-to-back 4A games. The first is a trip to West Blocton on August 25. While West Blocton made the playoffs last year in 4A, this game will be a step up for them. It is also a great chance for the Wildcats to test their offense against West Blocton’s traditionally stout defense.

The next week will see county rivals Montevallo visit Columbiana for Shelby County’s home opener on September 1. The game is always one of the best rivalries in the area, and after the Wildcats beat the Bulldogs with an extra game of experience under their belts, they will hope to use that to their advantage again this year.

Shelby County will then open their regional schedule against Holtville on the road on September 8. Holtville finished just above Shelby County in the standings last year, and the Wildcats can get revenge on the head-to-head loss last year and make up ground in the standings this year with a win.

The next game in their four-week road trip is against Jemison on September 15. Shelby County took last year’s matchup and held the Panthers to just six points on offense. If the defense performs well again, another win could be in the cards.

After Shelby County’s September 16 bye, they go on the road to face Moody on September 23. The Blue Devils were a second round playoff team last year and beat the Wildcats as well, but since this is a non-region game, the pressure is off and Shelby County can focus on playing the best they can against a top 5A side.

Once the calendar flips to October, Shelby County will wrap up their regional schedule with three straight home games. The first of those games is against Demopolis on October 6. Demopolis were the top team in the region last year, and if the Wildcats have improved from last year as expected, this could be a trickier game for the region champions than they bargained for.

Afterwards, Shelby County will take on Selma on October 13. Selma will enter with a first year head coach in Leon Day, and the Wildcats can take advantage of that transitional period under a new coach to close the gap between the teams from last year.

Then, the Wildcats will face Marbury in their region finale on October 20. Marbury finished with just a win more than Shelby County and will have a new coach in 2023, which means this could be a battle for a playoff spot or playoff positioning during the final week of the season, making this game a potential must-win.

While Shelby County will know their playoff fate by the end of Week 9, the Wildcats still have two more non-region games to wrap up their regular season schedule. First, Shelby County will play Rehobeth on October 27. The game will wrap up a four-game homestand and be the senior class’ final home game of their careers, which should give Shelby County an emotional boost to take down Rehobeth, who they lost to last year, 23-12.

Finally, the Wildcats will finish the regular season on the road against Woodlawn on Thursday, November 2. Since the Colonels are a 6A side from the Birmingham area, the Wildcats will be motivated to beat a local team from a classification above them to make a statement as a program. Add that to last year’s loss to Woodlawn, and you have a recipe for a Shelby County team determined to give their all before hopefully going back to the playoffs.