By Erik Harris
CLAY – Cougar Stadium on the campus of Clay-Chalkville High School has been quiet on Friday nights. That will change in Week 5 when the top-ranked Cougars welcome Pinson Valley for a significant Class 6A, Region 6 game.
The Indians (3-1, 1-1) will have to quickly delete the memory of last week’s nightmare against Gardendale. Pinson Valley’s defense failed to live up to its stout reputation, opening the door for Gardendale’s ball carriers to roll up 444 yards on the ground in a 42-13 Rockets’ victory.
Clay-Chalkville (4-0, 1-0), coming off a 41-7 win in its region opener, will invite the Indians for its home debut. Quarterback Ty Pigrome has started the 2015 season with road wins at Blackman (Tenn.), Minor, Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa and Huffman.
That hot start has been executed in typical Cougar fashion, with razor sharp offensive play. With its 41-7 win over Huffman, Clay-Chalkville has now posted 30 or more points in 24 consecutive games dating back to 2013. They have now eclipsed Sweet Water’s stretch of 22 consecutive outings as the AHSAA’s all-time leader in that scoring category.
Pinson Valley will need to end that scoring streak in order to down the Cougars for the first time since 2013 when Gadsden City held them to 21 points. Prior to the Gardendale game, coach Matt Glover’s defense was only allowing 6.7 points per game.
“We have to tackle better. That’s coaching. We’ll get it fixed. Our kids will bounce back. I have full faith in them,” Glover said following the Gardendale loss.
“They took it to us,” he added. “My hat is off to them. We have to get better.”
Glover will look to senior cornerback Jay Woods to lead his secondary through a game that could pose some tough one-on-one matchups. Woods, a South Alabama verbal commit, is known for his long arms and press-coverage ability. How he and his fellow defensive backs handle Clay-Chalkville receivers T.J. Simmons, Nico Collins and Pinson Valley transfer Dez Williams will go a long way in determining the outcome of this Region 6 contest.
Williams, who is experiencing this crosstown rivalry from a blue perspective for the first time, is excited about facing his former teammates, but doesn’t plan on adding any extra pressure to his approach.
“It’s going to be exciting and fun to face (Pinson Valley),” Williams said. “But it means the same thing as any other game. Got to go out and play hard.”
Williams secured three receptions for 45 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown from the arm of Collins on a reverse pass last week against Huffman.
The Cougars took a 9-0 series lead with a 45-35 win at Willie Adams Stadium last season. It took a third-and-nine conversion that led to an 18-yard touchdown scamper from Pigrome with 1:25 remaining to preserve one of Clay-Chalkville’s most hotly contested wins of the 2014 season.
“They play the best game of the year against us every year,” Hood said following that narrow victory. “They get fired up to play Clay-Chalkville.”
Expect nothing less this time around.
Follow Erik Harris on Twitter @jeharris2.