By David Knox
No. 2 Pinson Valley rolled on as expected last week against Jasper. But the unexpected — and unthinkable — happened in the first quarter when star quarterback Bo Nix left the game with an apparent ankle injury. He was on crutches watching the remainder of the Indians’ 35-0 win.
The Trussville Tribune has learned through sources that Nix has a hairline fracture in his left ankle. He likely won’t play for a few weeks, but it’s believed he will be back before the playoffs.
The good news is that the Indians (5-0) have a couple of options — neither of which Nix would discuss, at least yet. Barry White, a sophomore, finished off the win over Jasper, going 12-for-18 passing for 156 yards and a score.
He is slight, at 5-foot-8 and 155 pounds. Patrick Nix did say after the game White “played very well, made some plays, doesn’t get many reps, so those reps tonight were great for him.”
The other option is senior Jackie Matthews, who had started at quarterback for the better part of three seasons until Nix arrived. Matthews has been exceptional at cornerback, but it would be surprising if he didn’t get a look at moving back and at least splitting time behind center. The thinking here is the longer Nix is projected to be out, the more likely it is we’ll see Matthews back at quarterback.
There are a couple of other reasons for optimism for Pinson Valley fans. One, the schedule is light for the next few weeks. Shades Valley (3-1) is improved, but the Mounties lost to the only tough team on their schedule, Ramsay. The following week is an open date, and winless Center Point is after that. That gives Nix four weeks to prep the offense — and his son time to heal — for Gardendale, a major region showdown, on Oct. 20.
Another reason to not throw in the towel just yet is that this Indians team was loaded for bear from the get-go, even before Nix and son arrived. A mostly veteran team on the verge of a breakthrough — with Khymel Chaverst, Liallen Dailey, Dilan Henderson and a rock-solid defense — the Indians might have been 5-0 with Matthews or even White at quarterback.
The offense may lean more on Chaverst, Jay Sharp and Henderson in the running game in the next few weeks, but Nix is a smart coach and knows how to take advantage of his talent.
The first test is Shades Valley, and the biggest concern there will be the defense’s containing Desmond Trotter. In a 30-24 win over Hueytown, Trotter was 24-of-25 passing for 248 yards and three touchdowns and rushed 24 times for 153 yards. He also caught a two-point conversion pass. Part of the plan to slow him down might have been running Chaverst and keeping him off the field, and that would go double now in our estimation.
It’s a shame to see such a great talent and great young man as Bo Nix go down, and our thoughts and prayers are with him. Indians fans are undoubtedly disheartened, but the season still looks good in our evaluation for an outstanding finish, if Nix can return healthy.
The Indians last started a season 6-0 in 2002. They should match that Friday at Willie Adams.
Tribune prediction: Pinson Valley 35, Shades Valley 20
Fourth-ranked Huskies host winless Center Point
Hewitt-Trussville (4-0), ranked fourth in the state in last week’s ASWA poll and No. 21 nationally in the USA Today Super 25 poll, step out of Class 7A, Region 4 play — and out of class — when the Huskies host Center Point at Hewitt-Trussville Stadium on Friday.
Center Point (0-5) lost to Clay-Chalkville 45-0 to extend its school-worst 22-game losing streak.
It’s Homecoming 2017 and the dance is Friday at the Trussville Civic Center at 9 p.m. That likely will give the first-string time to play a half, shower and be at the dance early.
No offense to Center Point — which will have to play without its best offensive player, Kelvin Cole, out with a broken collarbone — but this won’t be much of a game.
We could go on about how the Huskies should schedule someone a little bit tougher, someone in 7A, at least. The Huskies won 55-0 last year.
We understand from sources that Center Point, which is playing at Hewitt for the second straight year, gets a good payday and the Eagles players get a chance to play before a big crowd in one of the finest facilities in the state. Maybe we should view it as a benevolent act on the part of Hewitt-Trussville to reach out and help a struggling program.
Of course, it’s not lost on anyone that in this nonregion week for most schools, Clay-Chalkville is filling its with a trip to Hewitt regionmate James Clemens.
The Eagles will surprise you with a hard-hitting, fierce defense. Clay scored three special teams/defensive touchdowns and didn’t do a whole lot else on offense. Still, this won’t be a game for long. Tougher things for Hewitt are down the road — Bob Jones in Madison next week — so hopefully no one gets hurt …. at the dance.
Tribune prediction: Hewitt-Trussville 59, Center Point 0
Cougars travel to Madison to battle James Clemens
Clay-Chalkville (4-1) bounced back from a gut-wrenching loss to Pinson Valley by blanking Center Point 45-0 last Friday at Eagles Stadium. The Cougars stay on the road for a longer trip to a much tougher foe this Friday when they fire up the buses and roll up the road two hours to Madison to tackle James Clemens.
The Jets (1-3, 0-3 in Class 7A, Region 4) were predicted to be pretty decent this season, but they lost quarterback Jamil Muhammad to a torn ACL in the summer. Still, they were ranked sixth in the state after beating Gardendale to open the year. Three losses later — to archrival Bob Jones, Gadsden City, and most surprisingly, to Sparkman — the Jets are trying to right the plane for the stretch run.
Youth has been the main culprit, according to coach Wade Waldrop. “It’s obvious we’ve got so much inexperience,’’ he told the Madison Record after the Sparkman loss. “It’s showing. And it’s not the same players, it’s different guys. Little details are turning into big plays.”
A freshman quarterback made his starting debut last week. Connor Cantrell completed 11-of-32 passes for 61 yards with one interception.
The Jets, however, do have talent. Running back Devon Atkinson, who missed all of last season due to injury after being second-team All-State, is a big-time, big-play talent.
And this is a 7A squad playing at home, so it’s no gimme for the Cougars. It’ll be a stern test.
The Clay-Chalkville offense struggled against Center Point after defense and special teams put the expected easy game away early. To be fair, when you’re not on the field a lot, it’s hard to get into a rhythm. Coach Drew Gilmer was displeased with holding calls and pre-snap penalties, which happened on both sides of the ball, so we expect that and execution on offense were major focuses this week in practice.
The Cougars can win this game, and we’re not sure we felt that way coming into the season.
Tribune prediction: Clay-Chalkville 27, James Clemens 20
Springville hosts Shelby County
Springville (0-4) steps out of Class 5A, Region 6 play as the Tigers host Shelby County on Friday at Tiger Stadium. The Wildcats won last year’s meeting 25-22.
Shelby County (2-2) has wins over winless Holt and Moody, whose only win was over Springville in the season-opening game. The Wildcats lost big to 5A Top 10 teams St. Clair County and Wenonah.
Springville dropped a 20-7 decision at Curry last week, and the story continues to be inexperience and lack of size. The Tigers keep fighting, though. But the offense has scored just five touchdowns in four games. Austin Hutcheson’s touchdown pass to Jace Hayes was the only score last week.
Shelby County moves the ball on the ground with Chadwyn Russ and Nevada Wages, and had success doing that against Wenonah, even though the Wildcats managed only a touchdown. The Tigers will have to take away the run and find a way to score.
Tribune prediction: Shelby County 24, Springville 7
Last week’s predictions: 3-1
Season’s record: 18-3 85.7%