By Gary Lloyd
Want to see a tough way to open the 2013 high school football season?
Look no further than Pinson Valley.
Pinson Valley, which replaces 17 starters from last season, travels to Class 4A No. 2 Oneonta on Friday to open the football season. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
Oneonta has many recent accomplishments. The Redskins have finished as the runner-up in the Class 4A state championship the past two seasons, in which it has totaled a 26-4 overall record. Oneonta scored 665 points in 15 games a season ago, eclipsing the 40-point mark six times, the 50-point mark three times and scored 60-plus points twice. Oneonta’s average margin of victory last season was a shade under 32 points.
But the game at Class 5A Pinson Valley was different. The final score was 21-16 in Oneonta’s favor, and the Indians squandered an opportunity late in the third quarter when it fumbled at the 1-yard line. Pinson Valley also roughed Oneonta’s punter, giving the Redskins an automatic first down late in the final quarter.
Senior quarterback Brooks Garrett threw an 81-yard touchdown in the game, and junior running back Nick Gibson rushed for 96 yards.
Oneonta has already suffered a big blow to its team this season. Last week, according to Rivals.com’s Andrew Bone, senior wide receiver/defensive back Jalen Johnson, a 6-foot-3 Georgia Tech commitment, suffered a torn ACL and torn meniscus. Johnson, an All-State wideout a season ago, also held offers from Southern Mississippi and Furman.
Pinson Valley senior linebacker Elijah Bibbs knows Oneonta likes to mix it up a lot offensively. The Redskins will try to expose Pinson Valley’s defenders and get them off balance.
“We just need to get everybody in one place and we should be able to stop them,” Bibbs said.
Pinson Valley’s new-look offense — a sturdy offensive line blocking for Gibson and play-action calls — may have to go score for score with Oneonta. That could be tough, with two-time All-State defensive lineman Blake Bean, a 6-foot-3, 240-pounder who had more than 100 tackles last season, lurking on the defensive front for Oneonta. Oneonta also returns Class 4A All-State honorable mention players in tight end Brock Latta and linebacker Ethan Boyd.
While Oneonta returns All-State performers, Pinson Valley lost four from a season ago in linebacker Zach Cunningham, wide receivers Earnest Robinson and Harry Mason, and halfback A.J. Freeman.
Contact Gary Lloyd at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.