Shelby County finalizes 2024 campaign with new-look football schedule

Published 2:44 pm Thursday, May 30, 2024

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By TYLER RALEY | Special to the Reporter

The Shelby County Wildcats have decided their opponents for the fall with the release of their 2024 football schedule, as they try to make a return to the Class 5A playoffs.

The Wildcats will face off with Lincoln, Holtville, St. Clair County and East Limestone in their non-region slate, with Sipsey Valley, Jemison, Northside, Demopolis, Montevallo and Selma being on the schedule for region play.

Shelby County kicks off its 2024 journey on the road on Aug. 23 against the Lincoln Golden Bears.

This will be the sixth meeting all-time between the two programs and the first since 1951. The Golden Bears lead the series 3-2, having won the last two meetings. They shift over to Region 6 after coming off of a 4-6 season in 2023, going 1-6 in the area. This could make for an interesting matchup with the two teams not having met in the last 72 years.

The Wildcats will then take the field in Wildcats Stadium for the first time to take on the Holtville Bulldogs on Aug. 30.

The game will be the third straight season that the squads have met as region opponents, and Shelby County is looking to win its first game ever against Bulldogs, losing all four previous matchups.

The Wildcats lost last year’s game 41-18, so it will be interesting to see if they can make this year’s game any more competitive and give themselves a chance to come out on top.

Next, Shelby County will start region play on Sept. 6 with a trip to Sipsey Valley to do battle with the Bears.

Sipsey Valley moves back into Class 5A, Region 3 after being in Class 4A, Region 3 for the past two seasons. Before then, the Bears and Wildcats played against each other as region opponents in 2020 and 2021, two games that Shelby County won. It should be an energetic renewal of this contest.

The Wildcats then stay on the road for a game at Jemison on Sept. 13.

In the history between these two teams, they have played 37 times. The series is currently all square with an 18-18-1 split. Shelby County has won the last four meetings and have only given up 20 points to the Panthers in the last three games combined. The Wildcats will now look to do the same this season.

Shelby County then returns to Columbiana for its first of four consecutive home games, which will be on Sept. 20 against the Northside Rams.

The Wildcats and Rams will play for the first time ever in 2024. Northside makes the jump up from Class 4A for the first time in its school’s history, coming off of a 4-6 season in 2023 and a 3-4 record in Region 5. It could be a great matchup and some fresh air for Shelby County in the midst of a familiar schedule.

Next, the Wildcats will take a break from region play to host St. Clair County on Sept. 27.

The two teams have not met since 2019, when Shelby County beat the Fighting Saints by 40. St. Clair County enters this season coming off of a 3-7 year, so the Wildcats could have an opportunity to make a statement in the middle of the season with another offensive statement.

Following that, Shelby County takes on Demopolis on Oct. 4 in its return to region competition.

The Wildcats have not fared well against the Tigers in recent years, having lost the last nine and posting a  1-11 record all-time. Over the course of the last three meetings, Shelby County has only scored 13 points total, while Demopolis has scored 122. The Tigers won Region 3 last year, making it to the quarterfinals of the 5A playoffs.

The Wildcats will then cap off the home stand with a rivalry game against county opponent Montevallo on Oct. 11.

The Bulldogs are moving back up to Class 5A this fall, making the stakes in this contest that much more crucial. Shelby County holds a 40-33-1 lead in the series, but lost last year’s game 13-10. Now, the Wildcats look to avenge their defeat with a win in region play this year.

Shelby County caps off region play when it travels to square off with the Selma Saints on Oct. 18.

This game should be one that the Wildcats are very competitive in, as the Saints are coming off of a 2-8 season. Shelby County took the contest against Selma in a close 24-20 battle, making it one of two that it won in 2023. It could also prove to be crucial in the race for a playoff spot.

After a late bye week, the Wildcats travel up to Athens to take on the East Limestone Indians on Nov. 1 in the final game of the regular season.

This contest will be the first meeting between the two squads. The Indians are coming off of a 3-7 campaign last year with a 2-4 record in Region 8 of Class 5A. It will be a great chance for Shelby County to finish off the regular season in a positive way.