Mounties Continue To Grow

by John Goolsby

Growing doesn’t come without pain. Improving, moving ahead, getting better, whatever you want to call it, hurts. The Shades Valley football program is in the process of growing. The Mounties dropped their second game of the year last Friday night to the 2nd ranked Indians of Pinson Valley. However, Coach Rueben Nelson is not deterred in his mission. “My message to the kids is that we are not a team without hope…we can come out and compete,” Nelson said.

Nelson took over a program with a very rich history, but one that currently lacks many things that other programs have. Shades Valley has never had the “community” that other schools enjoy. This is due, in part, to the fact that the school has always pulled kids from all parts of Jefferson County. Unfortunately, Shades Valley, at this point, does not have the business support or civic support that other schools garner. For example, Hewitt -Trussville’s football team will be provided five pre-game meals this season by First Baptist Trussville. The lack of support from local businesses is somewhat shocking, considering Shades Valley has been in its current location in Irondale for almost 25 years. Anyone that has eaten in a restaurant in Hoover can attest to the fact that they support the Hoover High and Spain Park football programs. Despite the challenges, Nelson remains optimistic, “we can build this program up; it’s just going to take time,” Nelson said. Nelson is currently working extremely hard with alumni to raise funds to purchase the equipment and tools he and his staff need.

This week the Mounties will face Huffman in their first region game of the year. Former Mountie head coach Bill Smith leads the Vikings. This marks the third straight game for Valley on the road. Huffman is a talented team with a punishing ground attack led by Appalachian State commit Makhi Hughes. “Huffman is going to be a tough game. They have, by far, the best running back in the metro area…we have to get all eleven kids to the ball Friday night,” Nelson said.

Despite the loss last week, the Mounties showed improvement. The team is playing a large number of young players. The offense line is adjusting to the loss of Caleb Price. The passing game showed life, and the running game continues to get better each week. On defense, the Mounties were able to get pressure on the quarterback a few times. “We just can’t continue to give up big plays…we’ve got to get eleven men to the football, and that’s something we are going to continue to work on in practice,” Nelson said. The real season begins when region play starts. Nelson is excited and encouraged, “I just know we are going to get to playing Mountie football. It’s just going to take a little time,” Nelson said.

The game against Huffman kicks off at 7pm and can be seen on the NFHS Network.

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