by John Goolsby
The Shades Valley Mounties took another huge step towards making the playoffs with a 35-12 home win against the Chelsea Hornets. A victory this Friday night over the Woodlawn Colonels will send the Mounties to the playoffs. A Shades Valley win, coupled with a Briarwood win over Homewood, will lock up third place in the region for Shades Valley.
Senior center Karr Staggs, junior right guard Josh Little, senior right tackle Dylan Daring, junior left guard Teren Moore, senior left tackle Blaze Thompson, sophomore tight end Kordelle Steele and senior tight end Micah Burrow paved the way for a powerful Mountie rushing attack that rolled up 255 yards on 49 attempts and accounted for all five touchdowns. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of our offensive front,” said Head Coach Jamie Mitchell. “Call it old school or whatever you want. It doesn’t matter what level it is, games are won at the line of scrimmage,” Mitchell added.
It took his lineman some time to adjust to the move away from a zone blocking scheme to a new power blocking one. After the first five games the staff settled on the current starting lineup. That group has now had three games together. They continue to gel and improve each week. “Our offensive rule schemes are fairly complicated for high school. All those guys up there are really good thinkers,” Mitchell said.
Junior running back Jordan Pearson once again led the Mounties with 107 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown. Sophomore quarterback Earl Woods added 62 yards and two scores on the ground. Freshman running back Bralen Hart and junior running back Davin Bostock each scored a touchdown.
The Mounties strong ground game allowed the play-action pass to have some success. Woods was 6 of 11 passing for 96 yards. Senior wide receiver Al Weathers IV was the leading receiver with four receptions for 58 yards.
The Mountie defense once again came up with big plays. Against Chelsea the opportunistic defense forced five turnovers. “Those were big. You come up with five turnovers, you are going to win most games,” said Mitchell. Junior Kendorius Turner and seniors Jamari Scott and senior Mitchell Etheridge, III had fumble recoveries for the Mounties.
Etheridge’s recovery came after he sacked the Chelsea quarterback and stripped the ball. “He has played unbelievably well for us all year and now he seems to have found a different gear,” Mitchell said of Etheridge. Mitchell went on to say, “I couldn’t be happier or prouder of what I have seen of his growth and leadership. He’s a class act.” Senior cornerback Marlen Sewell and junior safety Cameron Harris continued their strong secondary play by adding two interceptions for the Mountie defense.
It’s not just a cliche that a team has to play well in all three phases of the game to win. The Mountie special teams also contributed to the win with solid play. Mitchell was pleased with his team’s kickoff coverage for the first time all year. “On our first kickoff our kick coverage led to a short field. We tackled the guy inside the 20, we then got a turnover and were starting inside the 20 instead of getting it out around the 35. Sometimes it’s the hidden stuff in there,” said Mitchell.
After an 0-6 start, the Mounties now find themselves on the cusp of the playoffs for the first time since 2017. The early growing pains the team went through and it’s ongoing improvement are nothing new to a veteran coach like Mitchell. When speaking of his past experience with re-building teams he said, “It has usually been a five to six game window anywhere I have ever been. He added, “You don’t necessarily want those six loses on your record, but it is an awesome and fun process to go through.”
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