Shelby County fights through injuries in loss to Woodlawn as playoff status undecided

Published 12:24 am Friday, November 3, 2023

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By STEPHEN DAWKINS | Special to the Reporter

BIRMINGHAM – Injuries and sickness decimated the Shelby County High School football team as it closed out the regular season, but the Wildcats were still full of fight in a 26-19 loss at Woodlawn on Thursday, Nov. 2.

Now, Shelby County waits to see whether it has done enough to earn a playoff berth. SCHS needs a Marbury win over Chilton County on Friday, Nov. 3, which would give Marbury the third seed in Class 6A, Region 5, and give Shelby County the fourth and final playoff seed.

If Marbury loses to CCHS, coin flips will be needed to settle the resulting three-way tie that also involves Selma.

The visiting Wildcats (2-8, 2-3 in region play) found themselves in a 26-6 hole against Woodlawn thanks to numerous miscues, including busted coverages and snaps that sailed over the punter’s head to set up the Colonels (2-7, 1-5) for easy scores.

But the ‘Cats fought back, with two rushing touchdowns by Bradley Horton and a passing score from Presley Duke to Eli Holliman.

Duke was seeing his first action of the season under center, as usual starting quarterback Ryan Sipes was among the players affected by the flu. He went 9-for-18 passing for 130 yards and a touchdown.

“I’m proud of Presley,” coach Zeb Ellison said. “We preach being prepared for the opportunity, and he went out and did the best he could. He’ll be better because of it.”

The Wildcats will wonder “what if” as they had the ball twice deep inside Woodlawn territory and couldn’t cash in. And the game effectively ended when Shelby County was driving with a chance to tie with about 2 minutes left, but the Colonels stopped them on downs near midfield.

But Ellison said he was proud of the fight his team showed given the circumstances.

“They gutted it out,” Ellison said. “They were put in an extremely tough situation and fought and had a chance to win. Our guys continue to fight, and that’s all we can ask of them.”

Horton carried the ball 31 times for 168 yards and two touchdowns.