Mounties Face Tough Challenge In Spartans

by John Goolsby

The Mounties and Spartans will meet for the 36th time in the past 54 years this Friday night.
Photo Credit: Shane Paschal

The Shades Valley Mounties will make their first appearance at Frank Nix Stadium this Friday night. The Mounties will play host to their long-time rival and current Region 5 foe Mountain Brook. The undefeated Spartans come into the game ranked #5 in the ASWA 6A poll and #10 in the state’s Power 25 rankings.

Shades Valley first played Mountain Brook in 1968. The two teams played for 22 straight years between 1968 and 1989, with the Mounties going 17-5. During that span, two of the Spartan’s five victories came under then Mountain Brook head coach and future Shades Valley head coach Robert Higginbotham. Higginbotham was 15-2 against the school he led to the 1975 state championship. The Mounties are 23-12 all-time versus the Spartans and 4-6 in their last ten meetings. This will be the 19th region game between the two teams. Based on enrollment, Mountain Brook is the largest school in the 6A classification, while Shades Valley is the 9th largest among the 60 schools.

1968 Mounties: first game against the Spartans. Mounties won 28-0.
Photo Credit: Shane Paschal
Valley at Mountain Brook in 1983. The Mounties escaped with a 7-6 victory.
Photo Credit: Shane Paschal
2019 Spring game at Mountain Brook
Photo Credit: Shane Paschal

The Mounties are coming off their first win of the season. They defeated Huffman 41-20 in a region game almost two weeks ago. The Mounties showed improvement in the win. “It was a total team effort…I am happy that they are finally starting to come along,” said Mountie head coach Rueben Nelson. The Mounties had previously played Power 25 #5 Clay-Chalkville and #12 Pinson Valley in non-region games. “I’m glad we had an off week and a chance to get all of our players healthy,” said Nelson.

The Mountie running game was solid against Huffman. Jordan Pearson bounced back from an injury and carried the ball 19 times for 138 yards, and scored three rushing touchdowns. “He’s a total athlete…he is probably the most underrated running back in the state,” Nelson said of his senior running back.

The passing game has steadily improved over the last three games. J’Caius Moore completed seven of eleven passes for 82 yards. “Our quarterback is young, but he’s a sponge with the information he is given, and he is trying his hardest to win games for our team,” said Nelson. Moore hooked up with fellow sophomore Dacorion Thomas for a 61-yard touchdown. Junior Christian Thomas led the Mounties with three receptions.

The Mounties offensive line is starting to gel. “I would say we are an older group, but not with a ton of playing experience. We are certainly getting better by the day, though,” said offensive line coach Tyler Braden. Kordelle Steele, Josh Little, Kevin Lin, Bryan Blackwell, and Teren Moore will start against the Spartans.

The Mountie defense continues to show improvement as well. Malique Steele led all tacklers with 11 total tackles on the night. Fellow junior Tithe-Raymond Byrd and senior Xavion Webb added seven total tackles each. Tyler Addie made the biggest defensive play of the night. The senior intercepted a Viking pass and returned it 53 yards for a touchdown. Steele, Webb, and senior Cameron Harris had a tackle for a loss, as did freshman Derice Johnson.

Wuilman Guerrero continues to impress Nelson as the punter and kicker for the Mounties. Against Huffman, Guerrero was five out of five on PATs, averaged 39 yards on five punts and two touchbacks on kickoffs. “Wuilman is just phenomenal. I’m just glad he loves football, and he doesn’t mind helping us in doing what he does for this ball club,” Nelson said of his senior kicker.

Nelson is looking forward to the game against Mountain Brook. “It’s gonna be a big one, but I believe in the Mounties, and we believe in each other,” said Nelson. He knows that the Spartans will be a big test for his team. “Coach Yeager’s teams are extremely well-coached and physical. They will be pumped up and play us hard. Coach Yeager has a way to test you early, to find your weaknesses. We are going to have to be ready to play Mountie football this Friday night,” said Nelson. “I believe we will,” he added.

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

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Photo Credit: Shane Paschal

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