By Gary Lloyd
For all the hoopla surrounding certain offensive players, this game between Class 6A No. 2 Clay-Chalkville and Class 5A Pinson Valley is about defense.
Can the Pinson Valley defense — which has allowed a bit more than 19 points per game — slow down the Clay-Chalkville offense, which is putting 45 points per game on the scoreboard? Can a young but improving Cougars’ defense limit Indians junior running back Nick Gibson, who has rushed for 784 yards in four games so far this season?
Clay-Chalkville (4-0, 3-0 Class 6A, Region 7) allowed just 173 total yards last week at Pell City and took the ball away twice, a fumble recovery and interception by junior Art Smith.
Pinson Valley (3-1, 2-1 Class 5A, Region 6) has played solidly on defense, though it did allow 36 points earlier this season to Mortimer Jordan, a game in which Gibson rushed for 447 yards and six scores.
“He’s a great running back. He had almost 500 yards in one game,” said Clay-Chalkville head coach Jerry Hood. “He’s going to be quite a challenge to stop, but if our kids will just stay in position and not overcommit, get out of place like we’ve been doing, we’ll play like (we did at Pell City).”
Pinson Valley head coach Matt Glover doesn’t like track meets like the Mortimer Jordan game. He likes solid defense. Hood wants to see his defense continue its improvement.
“More aggressive defensively,” Clay-Chalkville junior linebacker LaDarius Harris said of the Cougars’ key to the game.
Clay-Chalkville, which leads the all-time series against Pinson Valley 7-0, won this game last season, a 31-28 overtime thriller. In May, Clay-Chalkville rushed for four touchdowns to beat Pinson Valley 27-14 in the varsity half of the teams’ spring football game at Cougar Stadium.
Senior quarterback Hayden Moore completed 9-of-13 passes for 188 yards and rushed for a touchdown. Junior Terrelle West rushed for two touchdowns and senior Sidney Battle scored once. Pinson Valley senior quarterback Brooks Garrett had a solid game, completing 10-of-14 passes for 139 yards. Gibson rushed 16 times for 68 yards and two scores.
“They’re a good football team,” Moore said of Pinson Valley. “They’ve got good players. We just need to come out and play like we did (last week).”
Hood forecasts Friday’s matchup to be a good one.
“It should be a tremendous game,” he said.
Contact Gary Lloyd at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.