By Gary Lloyd
CLAY — If there were a such thing as a high school football video game, these are the two teams that you would want to play as.
Your friend chooses Class 6A No. 2 Clay-Chalkville, so you pick No. 3 Shades Valley. In the next matchup, vice versa.
Clay-Chalkville junior Tyrell Pigrome and Shades Valley senior RaShad Louie are the quarterbacks who can chunk it for lots of yardage, and also pull it down and bolt the length of the field for touchdowns. They’ve produced video game numbers in real life.
Clay-Chalkville senior Terrelle West and Shades Valley senior Keith Mixon are the running backs who can get it done between the tackles and especially on the edge. They’re the guys who have real-life turbo speed.
Clay-Chalkville seniors Kendell Jones and LaDarius Harris are the defensive linemen who clog running lanes and pressure the quarterback. The same is said for Shades Valley senior Daron Payne. These are the defenders you utilize individually on a video game, for tackles for loss and sacks.
At least we don’t have to resort to only a high-definition video game to see these powerhouses face off. The Cougars (6-0, 3-0 Class 6A, Region 6) travel to Shades Valley (6-0, 3-0) on Friday for a Class 6A, Region 6 matchup that feels more like a championship bout. Kickoff at Frank A. Nix Memorial Athletic Complex is at 7 p.m.
Both coaches want their teams to be considered the underdogs. Cougars head coach Jerry Hood said this summer that Shades Valley should be the favorite to win the region and be one of the top teams in the state. Mounties head coach Bill Smith said this summer that Clay-Chalkville is “the team to beat” in all of Class 6A. He joked that “they’re not fooling anybody” by casting the accolades elsewhere.
According to National High School Football analyst Dallas Jackson, this will be just the second meeting of National High School Football Top 50 teams in the state of Alabama, the first in the regular season.
Jackson said that in 2010, No. 31 Daphne played No. 6 Hoover for the Class 6A state championship game, a contest Daphne won 7-6. Daphne finished the season ranked No. 12 and Hoover finished No. 15 in the National High School Football 100.
This Friday, Clay-Chalkville will be ranked No. 25 and Shades Valley No. 50 in the National High School Football 100 rankings.
Late Friday night, one of these teams will be able to brag on itself after a win over one of the top squads in the state and a big advantage for claiming a region title. Shades Valley is the more battle-tested team to date, with wins over Florence, Bessemer City, Gardendale, and Acadiana, one of the top teams in Louisiana.
Both teams’ defenses have allowed an identical 118 points in six games this season. The Clay-Chalkville offense is averaging a whopping 49.5 points per game. Shades Valley scores 38 points per contest, but has had its top three scoring games its last three games.
Expect this one to be a shootout, with a late defensive stop or two sealing a victory for whichever defense stands tallest.
Contact Gary Lloyd at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.