Spain Park claims revenge over Briarwood to improve to 2-0

Published 11:52 pm Friday, September 1, 2023

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By KAYLEE BHASIN | Special to the Reporter

NORTH SHELBY – Friday, Sept. 8 was a night of second chances for Spain Park football as they overtook Briarwood on their home turf with a score of 37-6.

After losing this very same game last year with a tight score of 23-21, Spain Park claimed victory this year and rewrote the story.

Spain Park coach Tim Vakakes expressed how incredibly proud he was of the team.

“These kids, they keep coming out and working their butts off and it means a lot to them,” Vakakes said.

While the first quarter was definitely dominated by the Spain Park Jags, the Briarwood Lions put up a good fight on defense. It was a game of inches for the Jags as they worked their way up to the end zone and ultimately prevailed.

The Lions pressure just wasn’t enough as Spain Park wide receiver Bo Jones ran in an 11-yard touchdown with eight minutes left in the quarter. Kicker Alex Lloyd scored the extra point and the Jags led 7-0.

Briarwood responded with a 30-yard return by wide receiver Grey Reebals hoping to even the score. With a couple fumbles and recoveries, the Lions just couldn’t get far enough to close the score.

Throughout the first quarter, Spain Park was very consistent in moving up the field on every drive. With four minutes left, Spain Park made it into the end zone on a pass from quarterback Brock Bradley. Lloyd once again made the extra point and brought the Jags up 14-0.

Briarwood struggled to make it to the end zone as Spain Park brought the heat on defense.

Just like the first, the second quarter was dominated by Spain Park as well. The Jags started the drive with a one-yard loss due to a false start call, but that would have no effect on the team. On the next play, Bradley made a 13-yard pass to Jonathan Bibbs bringing the Jags up.

Bradley found the hands of wide receiver Reggie Jackson for another touchdown. The reliable Lloyd scored the extra point, and the Jags were up 21-0. This would be the first of many plays between Bradley and Jackson.

Reebals made another great 23-yard return making every effort to try and even the score. That hope was squashed by Spain Park’s linebacker Jacob Roe on the immediate tackle following the return.

Spain Park wasn’t giving any inches to Briarwood and proved strong on both defense and offense. The Lions were finally able to cover some ground on a 10-yard drive, but the Jags returned equal pressure when defensive back Kelby Roberson recovered the Lions’ fumble.

Bradley and Jackson were the dynamic duo on the night, as Jackson earned 63 yards off three completions, including one touchdown, as well as running back Dakarai Shanks mixing it up.

It was first-and-goal and Shanks made the run straight into the end zone for another touchdown. This time, Briarwood was able to block the so far 3-for-3 Lloyd for a score of 27-0.

With possession back to Briarwood, Reebals kept up with his consistency of getting the Lions up the field with a 25-yard return, but again, the Lions fell short. Coming up at halftime, the Jags went for the three-point conversion and ended the quarter with a comfortable 30-0 score.

The third quarter seemed brighter for the Lions seeing as they had finally made their way up into scoring territory. The pass was thrown but was intercepted by Jamari Mosley. Despite the interception, the Jags ended the quarter without a score.

The fourth quarter was where the Lions found their second wind. With eight minutes left in the game, a fumble by Spain Park was recovered by Briarwood and the Lions ran the ball all the way to the end zone for the Lions’ first touchdown. The field goal attempt went wide, leaving the score 30-6.

The Jags didn’t let this faze them and Jackson made the return of a lifetime bringing the team up the field.

It was another battle of trading tackles and was a fight to the end. Jones sealed the score with an 11-yard drive into the end zone and Lloyd cleaned up with the extra point, which closed out the scoring and gave Spain Park the 37-6 win.

Neither team ever gave up and the energy was high all night. Spain Park definitely had their redemption tonight.

Coach Vakakes praised the staff and relationships the team has as a means to winning.

“We’ve got really good players here,” Vakakes said. “We’ve got to keep them humble and caring about each other. Good things will happen.”

Bradley finished the night 15-for-24 passing with 141 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Derrick Shanks led all Jags rushers with nine carries for 58 yards and a touchdown, and his brother Dakarai was close behind him with 49 yards off 15 carries.

For the Lions, Reebals was the big playmaker of the night, earning 140 return yards off seven kickoffs. Briarwood finished the night with 83 yards of total offense versus Spain Park’s 327, and Cooper Higgins led the way for the Briarwood offense with 39 yards off 10 carries against the stout Jags run defense.

Spain Park will begin region play next week with a rivalry game at home against Hoover on Sept. 8. As for Briarwood, they will travel to Chilton County on the same night for their regional opener.