By Erik Harris
PINSON — After pitching its third shutout of the season and guaranteeing itself a spot in the Class 6A playoffs with a 31-0 statement over Center Point, Pinson Valley has to hit the chalkboard for a quick re-write of the 2014 team goals.
“Our goal (last Friday) was to make the playoffs, now our goal is to get another game at home so that’s what we’re trying to do,” said head coach Matt Glover.
Friday night’s win put the Indians (4-4, 3-2 Class 6A, Region 6) in position to improve their postseason seeding when they visit Shades Valley (7-1, 4-1) this Friday.
A stubborn Pinson Valley defense will be put to the test at Frank A. Nix Memorial Athletic Complex. The Mounties enter the game with one of the most explosive players in the state lining up in the backfield.
Keith Mixon, a Mississippi State verbal, gives Shades Valley hope to put six points on the board regardless of the down and distance. The senior running back was the lone bright spot in his team’s 59-27 loss to Clay-Chalkville earlier this month.
Mixon totaled 170 yards rushing with three touchdowns on a proud Cougars defense. He averaged more than 11 yards per rush and went the distance from 29, 56 and 58 yards out that afternoon.
Pinson Valley needs to prevent those long strikes if it wants to pull the upset and improve its playoff position. Pinson Valley is the No. 4 team in Class 6A, Region 6 right now.
Much like last week, the Indians will look to defensive leaders like senior cornerback Juray Smith to set the tone. Smith continues to improve after recovering from an off-season ACT tear. He intercepted three passes last week, returning one of them 31 yards for a touchdown.
Offensively, Pinson Valley will continue to lean on four-star ball carrier Nick Gibson, who toted the ball along with the Indians’ offense for 41 rushing attempts that went 160 yards and a score in last week’s win.
In order to beat one of the best teams in Class 6A on their turf, Gibson will need an even bigger day as Pinson Valley continues breaking in freshman quarterback Jackie Matthews.
If their recruitment doesn’t change, Mixon and Gibson will be seeing a lot of one another next year in Starkville, Miss. Somewhere in the mix of SEC defenders welcoming them to their conference, the two freshmen are sure to remember back to this Friday night and take a jab.