Briarwood lights up Carver-Montgomery in dominant shutout win

Published 12:10 am Saturday, November 11, 2023

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By TYLER RALEY ­| Special to the Reporter

MONTGOMERY – A magical defensive performance in the first half propelled the Briarwood Christian Lions on Friday, Nov. 10, as they pushed their way into the second round of the 6A playoffs, defeating the Carver-Montgomery Wolverines 25-0 in a torrential downpour.

After Josh Thompson helped handily drive the offense down for a score on the first possession of the ball game, Briarwood’s defense stepped up to the occasion like it has all season.

“We knew Carver was a stout defensive team and we knew they had some offensive weapons,” Briarwood coach Matthew Forester said. “So it was ‘hey, everybody is 0-0. There is no more state champion, everything is last year, there is now a tournament set to figure out who the state champion will be. We’ve got just as good a shot as half of 6A, because we’re playing in the tournament.’”

The Lions blocked a punt after forcing Carver to a three-and-out on its first offensive possession. Luke Reynolds got a paw on the kick that was eventually recovered by Rylan Hamm in the end zone for a huge score to put Briarwood up two scores early.

That block fired up the defense, giving them momentum as they headed back onto the field to continue their efforts against a stunned Wolverine offense.

They spared no expense in doing so.

Five plays later, the Briarwood defense stepped up again as senior Grey Reebals intercepted a pass in the flats and returned it for about 50 yards for yet another touchdown to put the Lions up 19-0 with over four minutes left in the first quarter.

Nearing the end of a dominant opening first, Luke Reynolds intercepted a ball in the end zone as Carver was driving down the field, and ran it back to the Wolverine 30 to give the offense another chance to score.

Coach Forester was very pleased with how his defense played to start the game.

“We started off hot,” Forester said. “Special teams really responded from last week to this week. We started off with the score, and then the punt block, and then we get the interception by Grey Reebals. It was just kind of a snowball thing.” 

It was at the end of the quarter that the match took what could have been a major turn. Multiple sets of lights at the Cramton Bowl went dark, delaying the game for nearly half an hour.

The coaches met with the officials, where they decided to continue on with the game in partial darkness, even with the heavy rain looming.

“I’m proud of the resiliency of the team,” Forester said. “The seniors did a great job of leading and really allowing, even in that 30-minute delay, we’re getting stuff done. We’re getting prepped for the rest of the game, we’re not taking it easy… I’m proud of how the seniors responded. They did a really good job of leading us.”

Following the delay, Briarwood quarterback Josh Thompson capped off a short-field drive with an eight-yard run into the end zone. This score would put the Lions up 25-0 on a Carver defense who had given up less than 20 points a game the whole season.

That scoring drive would also put an end to the scoring as a whole. The rest of the half would end in punts, as both teams could not advance the ball on their remaining drives.

Briarwood’s defense continued to impose its will on Carver into the second half, as what was once a light rain turned into a downpour.

The Lions came out of the half and forced two straight punts by the Wolverines, finding ways to constantly send them behind the line of scrimmage with pressure and momentum.

After one of their forced punts was downed at the one-yard line, the Lions fumbled the ball after running it up the middle, giving Carver a chance to get on the scoreboard at the beginning of the fourth.

After two plays, that hope for the Wolverines was terminated, as Luke Reynolds came up with his second interception of the night, and was the ultimate reason why Briarwood’s shutout stayed alive.

Forester said Reynolds’ impact meant a lot to this Lions team in this game.

“He did a great job,” Forester said. “He’s been one of those kids that just battles and fights and does the absolute best he can. He’s just an all-around football player. He’s one of those guys that you get every so often that just likes to play the game and understands a lot.

“He’s done a great job of mastering what we have asked him to do. When the lights come on, he wants to play, or even when four of the six lights come on, he still wants to play.”

Reynolds ultimately finished up with two interceptions to go along with his 59 rushing yards, 22 passing yards and a touchdown. His teammate, Thompson, racked up 53 rushing yards and 23 passing yards to go along with his lone touchdown in the second quarter.

The Lions head back home next Friday night, Nov. 17, as they will play host to the one-seed and undefeated Saraland, as they look to make a statement run in the Class 6A playoffs after being absent last year.