Cougars rout Oak Mountain
By Erik Harris
For The Tribune
It would’ve been easy to call this one a tune-up game.
No. 3 Clay-Chalkville could have taken the field with numerous backups while the starters reminisced about their season from the sideline and no one would have fussed. But that’s just not their style.
Oak Mountain would have no such luck on this November night as Cougars head coach Jerry Hood fielded his starters and came away with a 50-22 non-region victory to cap off the regular season.
“We’re not overlooking,” Hood said. “We’ve got to a point with this program where there’s lulls during the year because these seniors are 31-3 as a sophomore, junior, senior. So they have to overcome being a kid.”
There was no looking forward to next week for the Clay-Chalkville offense. The sharp unit was as focused as ever, finding the end zone on its first three possessions. Senior running back Christopher Marshall claimed two of them and junior Terrelle West went 59 yards to draw first blood in the opening minute of the game.
The Cougars would score once more — an 82-yard kickoff return by T.J. Simmons — to take a 28-15 lead into the break.
Things didn’t get any prettier for the visitors in the second half. The Eagles coughed it up at the start of the third quarter and Clay-Chalkville sophomore Terry Brown recovered.
It took Clay-Chalkville all of two plays to go 26 yards to the end zone. Quarterback Hayden Moore found Eric Blockum on a bubble screen. The junior quickly put 19 yards behind him to give the Cougars a 35-15 advantage with 11:11 remaining in the third.
Oak Mountain sophomore signal caller Warren Shader delivered a gutsy performance in the regular season finale. He operated the visitor’s triple-option offense with courage.
His wing back Harold Shader went 47 yards to set the Eagles up with a first and goal from the 5-yard early in the third. On the next snap, Warren faked the option pitch and turned it up for the score to cut the lead to 35-22. However, that’s as close as Oak Mountain got.
Warren did limited damage through the air, completing 2-of-5 for 33 yards and a touchdown, but his ball handling was the only thing that kept Oak Mountain (4-6, 3-4 Class 6A, Region 4) going in the right direction. The sophomore ran the ball 14 times for 70 yards and a score.
The problem with the Eagles’ offense, which churned up 244 total yards, was fumbles. They lost three of them and Clay-Chalkville (9-1, 6-1 Class 6A, Region 7) turned them all into touchdowns.
“That is a hard offense to prepare for in a week and they run it well,” Hood said.
Moore led the Clay-Chalkville offense to a 460-yard performance. The senior went 14-of-21 through the air for 165 yards. West slashed and dashed his way to a 13-carry, 200-yard, three-touchdown evening.
The Cougars now turn the page from the regular season to the postseason. Clay-Chalkville will welcome Class 6A, Region 5 No. 4 Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa to Cougar Stadium next Friday.
“The toughest matchup in 6A, round one is Clay-Chalkville/Hillcrest,” Hood said. “They are a great football team and they are worthy to probably be a No. 2 (seed) behind Hoover.”