Pinson Valley beats Class 4A No. 2 Oneonta
By Erik Harris
For The Tribune
Most teams would struggle after the departure of 27 seniors.
Common knowledge says that with only five returning starters on the roster, any team would be doomed.
But Pinson Valley isn’t most teams. It doesn’t entertain what “should be.”
The 72-man roster, which includes 17 first-year starters, boarded the bus bound for Oneonta Friday afternoon and several hours later celebrated a 25-18 upset victory over the Class 4A second-ranked Redskins.
While many call this a surprise win for the Indians, Pinson Valley head coach Matt Glover expects nothing less from his young team.
“This is what I thought we had,” he said. “I thought we had a good football team with a lot of leadership. We had 17 guys that played their first football game tonight.”
The Indians (1-0) did not easily find the road victory. They were outdone by their hosts in many major categories.
Oneonta (0-1) managed 18 first downs to Pinson’s seven. The Redskins had an even bigger advantage in the total number of plays from scrimmage. Oneonta snapped 70 plays to Pinson Valley’s 43.
The Indians’ opportunistic defense made all the difference. The supposedly inexperienced unit forced four turnovers that led to its first 18 points.
“We have a takeaway circuit that we do every week and we try to teach kids how to take the ball away,” Glover said.
After Oneonta quarterback Ko Powell ran nine yards for an early 7-0 lead, Pinson Valley linebacker Malik Melton dove on a loose ball in the Redskins’ end zone to pull to within one. The ensuing extra point was blocked.
Two plays later, senior linebacker Elijah Bibbs recorded Pinson Valley’s first interception of the season. The offense capitalized with a six-play, 30-yard drive that ended with a nine-yard pitch and catch from senior quarterback Brooks Garrett to junior running back Nick Gibson. The toe-dragging grab gave Pinson Valley a 12-7 lead after the two-point conversion failed.
Oneonta then added a safety and field goal to tie the game at 12. Late in the second quarter, Oneonta scored on a 9-yard run to take an 18-12 lead.
Glover said the game-altering turnover came in the second half, when junior cornerback Juray Smith stepped in front of a Powell screen pass and returned it back to the Redskins’ 20-yard line. On the next snap, Gibson charged 20 yards down the home sideline to tie the game at 18.
Two drives later, Garrett connected with sophomore Desmond Williams for a 54-yard touchdown pass. Williams’ quick feet gave Pinson a permanent 25-18.
“Brooks did a good job of rolling out of the pocket and finding (Williams),” Glover said.
After the go-ahead score, Oneonta had three drives to work with. The first was a nine-play, 12-yard drive that ended with a punt. The next drive was a quick three-and-out and the Redskins’ final drive saw the clock expire after three plays.
Powell, a former Pinson Valley player, completed 11-of-22 passes for 79 yards and two interceptions. He also rushed 24 times for 56 yards and a score. Running back Javon Russell recorded 51 rushing yards and a touchdown on 15 carries for Oneonta.
“I’m just happy to leave this place with a win, and I think this is the first time Pinson has beaten the second-ranked team in the state,” Glover said.