By David Knox, Sports Editor
CLAY – Don’t write the Clay-Chalkville Cougars off just yet.
The Cougars, who have lost two regular-season football games for the first time since 2010, picked themselves up with a thrilling 23-20 win over Gardendale, the preseason favorite to win Class 6A, Region 6.
The Cougars (5-2, 3-1) handed the Rockets their third consecutive loss as they dropped to 4-3, 1-2.
So while the Rockets have to regroup and finish strong down the stretch to earn a playoff berth, the Cougars are feeling pretty good about their chances.
That’s most particularly because of the performances of sophomore quarterback Willie Miller and senior wide receiver Nico Collins.
Miller bounced back from a rough performance against James Clemens to go 15-of-23 for 289 yards and three touchdowns against the Rockets. One of those went to Collins, a game-sealing 20-yarder. Collins finished with six catches for 112 yards.
Region foe Carver visits Cougar Stadium on Friday. The Rams (3-3, 1-2) are struggling with the move from Class 5A to 6A. They’ve lost three straight games, including a 48-13 loss to Minor last week. They are showing signs of improving under coach Rod Carson, who is in his third year. They actually led Minor 7-0 after a quarter on Syhiem Simmons’ TD run.
But Carver dresses about 50 players, and depth is a problem. Several players have to play both ways, and the line is generally undersized. They do have a big-time linebacker in Tadarrius Patterson, a Louisville commitment.
The Cougars have to keep the momentum rolling and stay in the hunt for the region championship. A win over Carver sets up that possibility when the Cougars travel to Minor next week for a Region 6 showdown.