Pelham announces 2024 football schedule

Published 5:17 pm Wednesday, January 17, 2024

By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

After weeks of anticipation, the Pelham Panthers have released their 2024 football schedule, and it is filled with intriguing matchups against some of the best teams in the Birmingham region.

The Panthers will take on Pell City, Oak Mountain, Leeds and Fort Payne in non-region play and will welcome county rivals Chelsea and Spain Park to Class 6A, Region 3 alongside Calera, Chilton County, Helena and Benjamin Russell.

Mike Vickery’s third season at the helm of Pelham will begin with a three-game homestand, which starts with a high-profile matchup against the Pell City Panthers on Aug. 23.

Pell City is in its second season under former Hoover coach Rush Propst and went 1-9 in his first year, but Pelham must be prepared to face a potentially improved team right out of the gate to earn its fourth straight win over Pell City.

From there, Pelham will host the Oak Mountain Eagles on Aug. 30. This is the second straight season that the Panthers will host their county rival, and after a tight 24-21 win last year, they could be in for another tight battle against their Class 7A opposition.

After that, Pelham will begin region play on Sept. 6 against the Chelsea Hornets in the final game of their opening homestand.

The Panthers claimed a 27-7 win over the Hornets on homecoming in 2023 and will look to extend their win streak to three over their in-county foe and improve on their 11-5 record.

Pelham will then embark on its first road trip of the season to Calera to face the Eagles on Sep. 13.

While the Panthers defeated the Eagles 35-6 last year as part of an 0-10 campaign for their regional rivals, Calera has a new coach in 2024 in Scott Rials who hopes to change the direction of the program.

The final game before Pelham’s bye week is a trip to the Chilton County Tigers on Sept. 20.

Their 2023 encounter on the Panthers’ senior night was a phenomenal 34-28 game, and with many new faces coming in for each team, this has potential to be another entertaining matchup.

After their Sept. 27 bye week, Pelham will return home to host the Spain Park Jaguars on Oct. 4.

Even though the Jags moved down to Class 6A, Region 3 in the latest round of reclassification, the teams still squared off last year in a 39-0 Week 11 win for then-7A Spain Park. The Jags will return much of their talent in 2024 and could pose another challenge for the Panthers.

Then, it’s the biggest week of the season as Pelham takes on its biggest rival in the Helena Huskies on the road on Oct. 11.

With the all-time series tied up at 4-4, the Panthers will seek to end a five-year losing streak to the Huskies and get revenge for last season’s 35-14 loss.

Pelham will wrap up its regional slate against the Benjamin Russell Wildcats on Oct. 18 at home.

The Wildcats won the region championship in 2023, but will be without a pair of All-State talents in the graduating quarterback Gabe Benton and receiver Malcolm Simmons, which could provide an opportunity for the Panthers to reverse their fortunes from last year.

From there, Pelham will close the year with a pair of non-region games, and it will first travel to Leeds to face the Green Wave on Oct. 25.

This is the first meeting between the Panthers and Green Wave since 1987, with Pelham leading the all-time series 2-0. Leeds reached the second round of the Class 5A playoffs in 2023 after earning a 9-3 record, and the Panthers will hope to stay unbeaten against one of the most consistent teams in 5A.

Finally, Pelham will come home for senior night on Nov. 1 to face the Fort Payne Wildcats for the first time in program history.

The Wildcats finished in second place in Class 6A, Region 8 and reached the second round of the playoffs thanks to a high-powered offense that averaged 37.4 points per game, but they also allowed 30 points per game on defense.

That could make for a high-flying battle for the Panthers as they test themselves against a team which has made the playoffs for the last seven years.