By Erik Harris
PINSON — Missed tackles that open the door for big plays are what haunted Pinson Valley last November when it fell at McAdory in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs, 34-17.
That’s what the Indians have to avoid if they want to get a little payback this Friday night at Willie Adams Stadium.
[VIDEO: Pinson Valley prepares for McAdory]
Much like last year, the Indians’ offense will have their hands full. The Yellow Jackets (4-0) will take the field with one of the toughest Class 6A defenses in the state, averaging 11.5 points per game.
However, that proud defense won’t get the same look from Pinson Valley (2-3, 1-2 in Class 6A, Region 6) this time around.
New offensive coordinator Jon Clements has the Pinson Valley offense operating a little different this year with dual-threat quarterback Errius Collins at the helm.
Collins, coming off a solid outing against No. 2 Clay-Chalkville, has the ability to do exactly what former McAdory quarterback Kyran Moore did to Pinson Valley’s defense in the playoffs — extend the play with his athleticism and make big, unscripted plays.
As long as the junior can stay under control and avoid too many negative plays, the Indians have a chance to pull off the win. McAdory is sure to disrupt him with a talented defensive front.
The key to the game will be how Collins, who has shown great playmaking ability along with careless ball security this season, handles the Yellow Jackets’ pass rush. Can he stay composed? He did a better job of it against Clay-Chalkville last week.
Clements will obviously look to get senior running back Nick Gibson involved early and often. The four-star prospect went for 103 yards and two scores on 35 attempts in last year’s loss.
Pinson Valley cornerback Juray Smith seems to be bouncing back from his ACL surgery over the offseason. He looked hampered by it early on against Hartselle, getting beat on a 73-yard bomb on the opening drive of the contest. The senior is now beginning to get some spark back in his legs and returning to his true form. His leadership will be valuable as head coach Matt Glover’s defense looks to avoid the big play this week.
The good news for Glover: many of the game-changing offensive plays McAdory made in November were executed by seniors that won’t be dressing out Friday night.
Somehow the Yellow Jackets have still managed to post 36 points per game in 2014. Let’s see if Gibson, Collins and Co. can keep up.