Briarwood Christian charts new path in return to Class 5A

Published 1:13 pm Friday, May 24, 2024

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By TYLER RALEY | Special to the Reporter

Following their recent drop to Class 5A, the Briarwood Christian Lions have their football schedule set for their first year back in the classification since the first season of the Matthew Forester era.

The Lions will meet up with Oak Mountain, Homewood, Leeds and McAdory in non-region play while their new Class 5A, Region 5 schedule features Ramsay, Carver-Birmingham, Wenonah, Corner, John Carroll and Hayden.

Briarwood will open up its 2024 campaign on Aug. 23 on the road in a rivalry game with the Oak Mountain Eagles at Heardmont Park.

This year is the third straight season that the two squads will do battle. The Lions hold a 4-2 advantage in the series all-time and are looking to win its third consecutive game over the Eagles after shutting them out last year 21-0.

In week two, Briarwood will stay on the road and head to Waldrop Stadium on Aug. 30 to take on a former region opponent in Homewood.

After playing the Patriots in Class 6A, Region 3 every year since 2020, both teams will now meet without playoff stakes on the line. Briarwood took last year’s game 20-13 thanks to multiple defensive stands. Nevertheless, this game should feel just like has over the past few seasons: physical and exciting.

Next, the Lions come home for the first time to Lions Pride Stadium and welcome the Ramsay Rams in the first game of region play on Sept. 6.

When the two teams in Class 5A, Region 4 play, it will be the first time since 2019 that the Rams have appeared on the schedule. It was a year that Briarwood won the region with Ramsay finishing right behind in the No. 2 spot.

The Rams have stayed on par with their performance since that year and will make for a tough opponent for the Lions over the next two seasons.

Briarwood will then hit the road again on Sept. 13 for yet another showdown with the Rams, but this time, it is the Rams from Carver-Birmingham.

The meeting in September will be the first time that the two schools have met since 1997. The Lions have won both meetings all-time, scoring 35 points in each contest.

Carver-Birmingham is coming off of a 4-6 season and a last place finish in Region 5, going 1-6 in region play. It is not necessarily an automatic win, but one that Briarwood should fare well in.

The next week on Sept. 20, the Lions return home to take on the Wenonah Dragons at the halfway point in the year.

This will also be a renewal of a former Class 5A, Region 4 matchup. Briarwood holds a 4-1 all-time record against Wenonah, including being winners of the last three contests. The Dragons enter the season after a 6-4 record in 2023, finishing fifth in Region 5.

The Lions will stay at home on Sept. 27 for their homecoming game against Leeds.

The meeting will be the first-ever game between the two programs. The Greenwave are coached by former area coach Jerry Hood and are coming off of a 9-3 campaign, losing in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs to Ramsay and finishing runners-up in Region 6.

Briarwood will then hit the road again to begin the month of October with a trip to Dora to take on the Corner Yellow Jackets on Oct. 4.

For the first time, the Lions and Yellow Jackets will compete in region play after nine previous meetings in non-region. Briarwood holds an 8-1 record over the history of this matchup, and won the most recent meeting 40-15 in 2021.

Following that, the Lions return home to face a former Region 4 foe in the John Carroll Cavaliers on Oct. 11.

Briarwood is holding a firm grip in the all-time series against the Cavaliers. It has won the last 10 contests between the two teams, holding John Carroll to 16 points or less in each. The game should be one that the Lions offense performs well in, as it has historically.

The bye week comes up following that showdown, giving Briarwood a week of rest before its final road and region game of the season against the Hayden Wildcats on Oct. 25.

The Lions and the Wildcats will meet for the first time ever in the last full week of October. Hayden is trying to rebound after a 2-8 season in 2023, going 1-6 in the region. It should be a matchup that Briarwood can control and end region play on a high note.

The Lions will then finish off the 2024 regular season with a game at home against McAdory on Nov. 1.

This game will be the first contest against the Yellow Jackets since 2003, but Briarwood has not lost to them in their four previous meetings. McAdory is coming after a 6-5 season with an appearance in the playoffs, but it will be an opportunity for the Lions to build momentum before a potential playoff run.