By Erik Harris
PINSON — After sweeping the back stretch of its schedule with three straight Class 6A, Region 6 victories, Pinson Valley will round out the regular season at Minor on Thursday night.
The non-region contest will serve as a playoff tune-up for the Indians (5-4, 4-2), who will likely travel to Southside Gadsden on Friday, Nov. 7 for the first round.
With a win over Minor (6-3, 5-2 Class 6A, Region 5) and a little help from Pelham, which hosts Gardendale, Pinson Valley could still climb up the region standings, which would change its playoff position.
Minor is sure to be a tough pre-playoff challenge. The Tigers have won five of their last six games and are a postseason lock as the No. 3 team coming out of Class 6A, Region 5. They will visit Muscle Shoals in the first round.
Despite its Region 6 No. 4 status, Pinson Valley is the hottest team not named Clay-Chalkville coming out of region play.
Indians senior running back Nick Gibson has been the focal point of the offense throughout the three-game winning streak. He carried the ball 37 times and went 144 yards on the ground in last week’s upset at No. 5 Shades Valley.
That workload came off the heals of a 41-carry, 160-yard performance against Center Point. His high production might have come at a price, however. Gibson, a Mississippi State Commitment, was reportedly helped off the field following the Shades Valley win with a knee injury.
Head coach Matt Glover said Gibson suffered an MCL strain and will be a “game-time decision” for Thursday’s game. Glover’s main concern is making sure his award-winning rusher is healthy for postseason play, although he stated that Gibson would play if ready.
Sophomore Torrey Hendrix and converted linebacker Tyree Watson would be the two chosen ones to replace Gibson. Both guys have experience in the backfield.
Freshman signal caller Jackie Matthews continues his progression as he enters his fourth week as a starter. Glover’s salty defense has made the freshman’s transition a little easier. The unit has given up a total of 33 points over Pinson Valley’s 3-0 run.
“They’re always outsized, but they play with great technique, great heart,” Glover said of his defensive front. “You know football’s not won by size, football’s won by heart.”
If the Indians continue playing inspired on defense and the offensive backfield holds up, they could start their playoff run on a four-game winning streak.
“I think this is a good win for us going toward the playoffs and our goal is to make the playoffs so we’re going to keep getting better and try to get ready for Minor (this) week,” Glover said.