Pell City Panthers 2018

Pell City Panthers take the field. Photo by Jon Jett

Last Week’s scores

Cleburne county 54  Ashville 34

Handley 31  Leeds 7

Center Point 44 Moody 0

Pinson Valley 52  Pell City 7

Winterboro 34  Ragland 27

Mortimer Jordan 42  Springville 13

Munford 38  St. Clair Co. 33

Donoho 48  Victory Christian 0

 

This Week’s games

Ashville Bulldogs (1-7) vs. Anniston Bulldogs (4-4)                 

Ashville’s final regional opponent is a team fighting for a playoff spot and will be determined to show up and throw all of their weapons at Ashville to accomplish that goal.

The strength of Anniston’s team is their ferocious defense, boasting an excellent secondary that leads the region in interceptions. The two outstanding leaders of that secondary are cornerback (#14) Charrell Brown and senior (#3) free safety Damecus Thomas. The rest of the defense is directed by the very able senior outside linebacker (#17) Blake Heard.

It is fortunate for Anniston that its defense has so much talent because their offense has become more and more one dimensional through the season, a fact that Ashville’s defense should keep in mind for Friday. Anniston relies on junior quarterback (#2) Tyree Carmichael to do it all – and he does. Carmichael has become the primary runner on the team replacing the star senior running back (#32) Tywon Spidell, who has seen limited time in the second half of the season. Anniston’s films will inform Ashville’s coaches that Carmichael loves to roll right and run the ball or pass out of the roll in his spread offense. While this quarterback is very elusive, he is only one player and can be keyed on. Carmichael’s favorite target downfield is wide receiver Mondrecko Thompson.

Leeds Green Wave (2-6) vs. Childersburg Tigers (3-5)

Leeds will be looking to finish up the season on an up note, and Childersburg provides that opportunity, having stuggled this season and coming to the friendly confines of Homer Smiles Stadium.

The Tigers have a pro-set offense that relies heavily on their running attack. Leeds should look for senior running back (#3) Maurice Bennett to account for at least 30 touches and will likely generate most of Childersburg’s offense on Friday. The rest of the offense will be directed by senior quarterback (#12) Austin Douglas, whose function is more as a down-and-distance distraction to get attention off Bennett and draw attention on himself. Douglas will try the occasional pass, and his favored target is senior wide receiver (#10) Kishawn McKinney. Make no mistake, though … This will be the Maurice Bennett show and Leeds’ defense needs to get a bead on this power back.

Childersbug’s defense is very stout in the interior, boasting two very good defensive linemen in senior DT (#52) Keathen Keith and junior DE (#57)  Andrew Chatman. Behind that line is a strong spine with defensive captain senior MLB (#54) Christian Guerrero and junior free safety (#14) Terry Thomas. Those are the strengths – so Leeds’ offense should avoid them and instead work on the flanks – the Tigers are soft on the edges and at cornerback. Leeds will deploy a combination of speed sweeps and quick game to get its players outside the hashes and into space, where Childersburg can get beat.

                     

Moody Blue Devils (1-7) vs. Mortimer Jordan Blue Devils (8-1)                                          

This is a tale of two teams headed on different trajectories at the end of the season. Moody ison a six game losing streak. Mortimer Jordan is ranked in the top five and riding an eight game winning streak. Mortimer Jordan’s visit to Moody will test even the most loyal and vocal supporters in the city.

The visiting Mortimer Jordan Blue Devils this week have been dismantling opponents week after week following an opening season loss. Despite losing a lot of players to graduation last year MJ  Coach Dusty Goode has rebuilt his team into one of the best of its region, with hopes of a state championship run as realistic as any team in 5A.

MJ’s quarterback is junior Kourlan Marsh, who is very elusive when he breaks out of the backfield. The Blue Devils spread-option attack features effective running backs in Senior (#34) Daniel Franklin and Junior (#22) Garrett Helm, who have each had multiple 100+ yard rushing performances this season. Marsh is also blessed with a variety of great targets from the passing game, including the outstanding senior wide receiver (#81) Luke Parks - a 6’4” playmaker who can get to the high ball downfield.

Moody head football coach Adam Wallace is going to have a moment similar to Tennessee head football coach Jeremy Pruitt when he faced Alabama. Pruitt knew his team was playing against a team with better talent in all three phases of the game. Pruitt told his team to forget about the scoreboard and do your job … correctly … on every single play until the end of the game. Let the scoreboard take care of itself. Tennessee did just that – and lost. Pruitt, however, saw the players that would play their hearts out and do the right things all the way to the whistle – and that is what would be the foundation of the team he would build into winners. Coach Walters has that moment now. Who will do the right things? Who will be build his team around to become winners? Those questions will be answered on Friday.

Pell City Panthers (2-6) @ Shades Valley Mounties (2-6)                                                          

Pell City’s run through its regional gauntlet of heavy hitters has come to a close, and is left with a regional road game in Irondale with the very beatable Shades Valley Mounties.

Shades Valley has a strange combination of a spread offense filled with talented athletes like junior quarterback (#1) Drew Olds, Senior wide receiver (#3) Kei Andre Sanders and sophomore RB (#20) T’Nazj Means. As written – they are talented – they are also young and inexperienced and still botch assignments and turn over the ball much too often. These are the traits of a team wide open to the Panthers flipping field position and exploiting this young squad.

The Mounties’ defense is also relatively young. Shades Valley’s D is led by a set of juniors – junior OLB (#15) Bo Spearman and junior strong safety (#6) Noah Freeman.

Coach Lee may not want to face the Mounties next season – but this year they are vulnerable to a disciplined game plan. Pell City is overdue for a spirit-lifting victory, and Shades Valley could be the place to find one.

Ragland Purple Devils (4-5) vs. Spring Garden Panthers (7-1)

Ragland’s loss last week leaves the Purple Devils with the narrowest of paths to qualify for the playoffs. The Purple Devils must beat Spring Garden and hope that Victory Christian can find a way to knock off Talladega County Central for Ragland to secure the final spot.                              

First things first. Ragland has a Herculean test in front of them Spring Garden is just flat-out good, having stumbled only once this season. The Panthers will come after Ragland with one of the best offenses in Class 1A. Led by senior quarterback (#12) Luke Ivey, the Panthers’ play-caller can rifle the ball downfield, has a soft touch for screens and can also run effectively off the option. He is helped in the running department by up-and-comer sophomore running back (#3) Weston Clark. Arguably the best athlete on Spring Garden’s team and a dangerous long-gain threat is senior wide receiver (#81) Elijah Petty. The Panthers have a defense that measures up well, led by an outstanding senior OLB (#21) Lucky Bolen, who leads the team in tackles and tackles-for-loss.

Victory Christian Lions (3-5) vs. Talladega County Central Fighting Tigers (2-6)

Two local teams that expected much more out of 2018 are both Victory Christian and TCC. Still, the season is not over and the Fighting Tigers are still in the hunt for the elusive #4 seed in the region’s playoff berths, so there is still much to play for.

Victory Christian welcomes a disappointed, yet still very talented Talladega CC to Pell City. The Lions’ will bring its hot-and-cold running offense to go up against one of the region’s best defensive players in senior middle linebacker (#4) Jaylon Swain, who blows up backfields on a regular basis. Defensively, the Lions struggled against Donoho’s running attack last week, surrendering over 300 yards on the ground in their 48-0 loss. That is exactly the pressure TCC will apply with their flashy, tough tailback in senior (#10) Devin Dates.

Victory Christian matches up athlete to athlete with TCC very well. Put the brakes on Dates and spreading the ball around with pitches and short passes could result in some points and a much needed victory for the Lions as the season comes to a close.

Springville Tigers (3-6) @ St. Clair County Saints (1-7)

** Game moved to Springville High School due to the press box fire in Odenville**

Now that playoff chances are a distant memory, two county rivals are playing for something very similar this week – Springville looks to sweep its two county rivals in Moody and St. Clair County, while the Fighting Saints look to add Springville’s head on their wall of victory right alongside John Carroll.

The Saints defense, led by a very talented and tenacious middle linebacker in (#34) Skyler Mizzell, will have to contend with a Springville offense that features a very savvy and well-developed quarterback (#14) Austin Hutcheson, who has mastered the RPO and quick game. Saints head coach Matt Glover is superb at preparing defenses to stop the run, which may make for a long night for (#34) Bradlee Cole and the rest of the Springville running attack. This may force Hutcheson to win by throwing over the top.

The Saints offense is a run-centric, smash-mouth style featuring running back (#5) Tre Christon. Springville’s best chance to stop Christon will be to plug the running gaps with linebackers (#1) Braden Hughes and (#27) John Raby while strong safety (#23) Jordan McClellan stays in center field to prevent any play action passes from sophomore quarterback (#8) Cade Golden. The Tigers are susceptible to an air attack if they can’t get to the quarterback in the pocket, and Golden is overdue for a big game.

 

This Week's Circulars