by John Goolsby
The Mounties fell on the road to #2 ranked and undefeated Briarwood Christian 28-7 this past Friday night. The loss drops Shades Valley to 1-5 on the year and 1-2 in region play.
Coach Rueben Nelson’s squad continues to get better each week but finds themselves outmanned. “We are dressing out 50 players while others are dressing out 100,” Nelson said.
“We have a lot of kids playing both ways, and fatigue becomes an issue.”
“It is what it is, though—no excuses; it’s squarely on my shoulders. Shades Valley is going to get better. It’s just going to take some more time,” he added.
Shades Valley revamped their offensive line the week before the game. The Mounties started three seniors: Xavion Webb, Kevin Lin, and Josh Little, along with two juniors: Tithe-Raymond Byrd and Kordell Steel.
The changes paid off as senior running back Jordan Pearson was able to run for 122 yards on 12 carries before leaving the game with a lower leg injury in the 3rd quarter. Pearson scored the game’s first touchdown on a 79-yard run.
J’Caius Moore continues to gain confidence each week. “He is trying so hard. He was thrust into the starting position and has not shyed away from it,” Nelson said of his sophomore quarterback. With better blocking up front, Moore had more time to throw. He completed 11-of-19 passes. “I think the sky is the limit for that kid, and the future is bright for Shades Valley football with him,” Nelson said.
The Mountie defensive unit played strong against an explosive Briarwood offense for most of the night despite numerous players playing on both sides of the ball.
Briarwood’s first score of the night came in the second quarter on a 70-yard pass for a touchdown that was due to a mistake in the Mountie secondary. “The busted coverage killed us and drained our momentum,” said Shades Valley defensive coordinator Justin Hannah.
The Lions’ last score came with 5:28 remaining in the game when Briarwood’s star quarterback, Christopher Vizzina, raced 75 yards for a score. Vizzina rushed for two touchdowns and threw for 231 yards and two more scores.
The Mountie defensive line played one of their best games of the year. Vizzina was held to 19 yards on 13 carries before his late scoring run.
Tyree Hines continues to play exceptional football in the secondary for the Mounties. “He is one of the best defensive backs in the state…a hidden gem,” said Hannah.
With three region games remaining, the Mounties are still in the hunt for a playoff spot. However, the Mounties will have to duplicate last year’s late-season run to make it to post-season play again.
The Mounties host the Homewood Patriots (5-1, 3-0) this Friday night in a critical region matchup at Frank Nix Stadium. The NFHS Network will stream the game live at 7 PM.