By Erik Harris
CLAY — For No. 2 Clay-Chalkville, it’s five down and five to go but, at least for now, it’s time for a little R&R.
Unlike past seasons, coaches had the option to skip their usual jamboree game in order to fit an open date into their schedule. Some coaches, like the Cougars’ Jerry Hood, liked the idea of a bye week.
While others were worried about shedding their opening night jitters in a game that essentially doesn’t matter, Hood was looking at the big picture.
“The amount of work we put the kids through, if I can give them three days off in the middle of the year, completely off away from football, I’m hoping it will help us in the long stretch of the playoffs,” Hood said before the season.
Hood’s plan seems to be coming together. Clay-Chalkville has started the season 5-0, 2-0 in Class 6A, Region 6 and can now take a week to rest legs, sharpen up on technique and map out the plan for the back half of the schedule, which features four straight region tests.
“We’ve been talking about this all year and I think it’s a chance to go back and sharpen up on some fundamental things that you probably can’t get every week,” Hood said after Friday’s 45-35 win at Pinson Valley.
The region clash was the last of a five-game stretch that saw the Cougars put no less than 44 points on the board. Junior quarterback Tyrell Pigrome has tossed for 958 yards and 13 touchdowns through that span. Hood said he’d like to reward his team for its hot start.
“This is new for us so (this) week we’ll do some work, but we’ll reward the kids for all they’ve put in,” he said.
Hood said his team is a little banged up right now, something you’d never know by watching it play on Friday nights. Thus far, yardage and points have come easy for the top offense in the state.
“To be honest with you, we need to heal, we’ve got some guys playing at 75 percent, we need to heal a little bit,” Hood said.
The two most likely toughest tests for Clay-Chalkville are at No. 3 Shades Valley on Oct. 10 and at Gardendale on Oct. 24. Besides planning for those games, Hood hopes to get his team off the practice field at some point to have a little fun and forget about the task at hand, even if just for a moment.
“I hope we can go bowling or something like that one day, but other than that, we’re going to have full practice,” he said.