2022 Mountie Season Preview

by John Goolsby

2022 Shades Valley Mounties

The 2022 Shades Valley Mounties open their season Friday night on the road at Stanhope Elmore. The Mounties are looking to bounce back from last year’s 3-7 season. Valley advanced to the second round of the 6A playoffs in 2020, and the Mounties are hungry to get back to postseason play.

The Mounties are in Region 6 in 6A this season. Region 6 is possibly the most challenging region in the state, with the region teams winning five consecutive state titles. Valley will face defending state champion Clay-Chalkville, Pinson Valley (state champions in 2017, 2018, and 2020), Oxford (state champion in 2019), Pell City, Center Point, and Huffman in region play.

An interesting non-region scheduling note is that the Mounties will not face the Vestavia Hills Rebels for the first time since 1974. The two teams met for 48 straight years.

Rueben Nelson’s second Mountie team will have a different look on the sidelines as the veteran coach had to replace multiple assistant coaches in the offseason.

The Mounties have perhaps the two youngest coordinators in the state. Baniko Harley will lead the offense while Kordell Jackson will head up the defensive unit. Additionally, Harley will coach the quarterbacks, and Jackson will coach the defensive backs.

The two coordinators were preparing to play their final collegiate season for the Austin Peay Governors a year ago. The pair have strong ties to Rueben Nelson, having played for him at Ramsay. They were standouts on the Rams’ 2016 State Championship team.

JaMarius Dismukes returns for his second year as the offensive line coach. Robert Nelson, Jr. returns as the defensive line coach.

Ocie Battle, IV returns and will coach the running backs. Long-time Alabama high school head coach Chris Mahand joined the staff in the spring and will lead the linebacking corps.

Justin Mitchell and Martee Pope are also new additions to the coaching staff. Mitchell will coach the wide receivers while Pope will handle the outside linebackers and special teams.

Russell Bradt, ATC, of ATI will serve as the Mounties athletic trainer.

Otis Leverette of Modernday Fitness has overseen the Mounties’ strength and conditioning program.

The Mounties will start a third new quarterback in three years. Junior Steve Brown, a Ramsay transfer, will lead the Mountie offense. Freshman Zayvian Bolden will back Brown up.

Senior Micah Thomas heads up an extremely deep stable of running backs. Braylen Hart, David Ware, Geordan Clark, and Kam Williams will all get considerable playing time. Wide receiver Christian Thomas and linebacker Ethan Johnson will get snaps as well.

The wide receiver corp is extremely deep and talented. Christian Thomas, Kendarius Irvin, Ji’Quez Daniel, Marcus Thomas, Tramel Rush, Sephan White, Dreyden Foster, Torez McCall, Korda’e Harper, and Jacari Wedgeworth will be in the rotation. Linebacker Kordell Steele will see time at tight end, and defensive back Jacob Mahand will get snaps at the wideout position. Quincy Crawford is recovering from a recent injury and will look to make an impact when he rejoins the team midseason.

The offensive line is young but deep. Expect Bryan Blackwell, David Hunter, Rashad Morris, Zayden Leonard, and Julian Maddox to be the starters. Ajari Jones, Peyton Kidd, and Jadon Ford will be in the rotation, while William Looney, Derrick Wilson, J’Darius Wedgeworth, and Cedric McIntyre will push for playing time.

On the defensive front, Caleel Holifield, Chris Ingram, and Landy Saxton are projected to be the starters. Johnny Steele, Zion Cathey, Justin Miller, Nydarius Whetstone, Kayvian Riley, and Kaleb Tolbert will be in the rotation. Kyle DeRamus, Carlos Ford, and Terrence James will be working to see playing time. Darius Ford continues to rehab from a knee injury.

The linebacker position looks to be a strength of the team. Kordell Steele and Ethan Johnson, another Ramsay transfer, will hold down the middle. Malique Steele and Clayton Garrison will play outside. Carterius Ford, Jordan Wright, Cameron Johnson, Jarred Brundidge, Brandon Handley, and Dorien Dansby will be looking to get snaps.

Senior cornerback Jacob Mahand will lead the secondary from one corner while Erin Callens will man the other corner. Ken Odom will start at one safety spot, with Roderick Craig and Jacaryous Burrow seeing action. Malique Steele will play the Star position when needed. Christian Thomas will get time at corner this season, as will Jamie Small.

Christian Thomas will return kickoffs and punts. Erin Callens will return kickoffs with Thomas. Callens and Ji’Quez Daniel will also have opportunities to return punts.

The place kicking duties will be handled by Jair Aguilar and Jacob Mahand will be the punter.

Shades Valley (Cahaba) fielded its first team in 1921. The Mounties have won 543 games, won 13 region/area championships, played in the first-ever playoff game in the state of Alabama (1966), made six semi-final appearances and two state championship game appearances.

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