By David Knox
With a region title in the bag, is there anything left for Hewitt-Trussville’s Huskies to play for in their regular-season finale against Florence Friday night?
The Huskies, ranked No. 4 in the state by the Alabama Sports Writers Association and No. 19 in the country by USA Today, seek their second consecutive 10-0 regular season when the Falcons fly in from Florence for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Hewitt-Trussville Stadium’s Husky Field.
Last year’s 10-0 run was the first in the school’s history. A second one, if the Huskies can do it, would be a phenomenal achievement even the most ardent of Hewitt supporters would have had trouble imagining two short years ago.
Over at Pinson, the Indians of first-year coach Patrick Nix have electrified the Valley. A victory at Pleasant Grove over Friday would complete the first unbeaten regular-season in the school’s 48th season of playing football.
The third-ranked Indians already captured the Class 6A, Region 6 championship – the first region title for the school since 1999 — and the Indians can surpass the total number of wins in a single season, set by coach Matt Glover’s 2011 team, which went 9-3.
After junior quarterback Bo Nix, the coach’s son and a four-star college prospect, went down with a broken ankle, it’s been up to sophomore Barry White and senior Jackie Matthews to lead the team at quarterback. White, a 5-foot-8, 155-pounder, led a comeback against Shades Valley to keep the streak alive and pull off a needed region win, then Matthews, a starter at quarterback for three seasons till Nix arrived, stepped back in at quarterback and added experience and athleticism to the role.
Hopes were high when the season started, with a solid squad returning and the addition of Bo Nix, but to have a shot at a first perfect season was nothing but a dream.
Elsewhere, Clay-Chalkville’s regular season is over, as the Class 6A, Region 6 runners-up (8-2) await Athens next week in the first round of the playoffs. Center Point (1-9) has put away the footballs, and Springville (2-7) will do so after Friday’s clash at St. Clair County.
Florence at Hewitt-Trussville, Husky Field at Hewitt-Trussville Stadium, 7 p.m.
The Huskies (9-0) close out the regular season with Class 6A Florence (4-5). It’s Senior Night for the Huskies, and the perfect season is on the line.
It will be the first meeting in football between the two schools.
Hewitt closed out its Class 7A, Region 4 record unblemished by hammering James Clemens 44-13 in Madison. The 14-0 region record over two seasons is the first back-to-back perfect region run since way back, when Jack Wood’s excellent teams in 1992-93 went 6-0 in a much smaller region in 6A.
So now comes Florence, a playoff qualifier in 6A, which is on a roll. After a 1-5 start, J.B. Wallace’s team has won three straight games, over Decatur, Columbia and Hazel Green to squeeze into the fourth spot in Class 6A, Region 8. For that, they’ll get to open with Pinson Valley in the first round of the playoffs, but now they’ve got Hewitt dead ahead.
The 1-5 start comes with a caveat – all five teams the Falcons lost to are in the playoffs, including 7A Bob Jones. So these birds weren’t ducking anybody.
The team’s major threat is running back Armoni Goodwin, a freshman who had the breakout game in the Falcons opener against Clay. The Cougars won 31-27, but Goodwin racked up 122 yards on 18 carries to serve notice that the preseason buzz was for real.
Last week, Goodwin rushed for 313 yards and five touchdowns – runs of 80, 77, 4, 9 and 55 yards – to lead the Falcons over Hazel Green. The blazer presents a real problem for the Huskies because of his elusiveness and breakaway speed.
The Huskies benefited from the return of Myles Mason last week, and are hitting on all cylinders offensively. Paul Tyson and Logan Pitts had huge games.
The defense will be tested by Florence Friday. It better be ready if the Huskies want to claim perfection for a second-regular season run in a row.
Tribune prediction: Hewitt-Trussville 56, Florence 28
Pinson Valley at Pleasant Grove, Spartan Stadium, 7 p.m.
The excitement is palpable in Pinson. Last week’s win over a scrappy Carver team set the Indians in line for a historic achievement.
They still likely will have to do it without Bo Nix, who didn’t look game ready as he slightly limped along the sidelines last Thursday night. His coach/dad Patrick doesn’t share injury information on any players, so it’s total speculation on our part.
Barry White and Jackie Matthews, the stand-ins (Matthews also stars at corner back), have done enough to keep the Tribe alive to this point, and with running back Khymel Chaverst, running backs/slot backs Jay Sharp and Dilan Henderson and receivers LiAllen Dailey and Demarion Holloman, the weapons are there. The offensive line and defensive lines have been strong all season.
There have been occasional defensive breakdowns, and mobile quarterbacks (think Desmond Trotter, Carver’s Chappelle Wade) can give them trouble. The punting game is an issue with Nix out as well.
Should any of this matter Friday at Pleasant Grove? That’s the 10-0 question.
The Spartans (5-4) are in the Class 5A playoffs again, and coach Jim Elgin’s team gave region champ Briarwood Christian a battle before falling 21-14 last week. The Spartans had a chance to tie the game against the unbeaten Lions on the last play but couldn’t pull it off.
Dishon Smith started at quarterback but Elgin pulled him for freshman Zyquez Perryman, who led the comeback.
Pinson won this meeting 24-7 and leads the series 10-4.
There’s a lot riding on the line, and you can bet the Indian faithful are ready to roll the Grove.
Tribune prediction: Pinson Valley 31, Pleasant Grove 14
Springville at St. Clair County, St. Clair Stadium, Odenville
The Tigers notched their second win of the season over Fairview, and now comes the season finale against the rival Saints.
Springville (2-8) has shown nice improvement under Steve Davis. A break here or there might have made it a .500 season.
St. Clair County, under Matt Glover in his first year since leaving Pinson Valley, is 6-3 and smarting after losing to Wenonah last week, but the Fighting Saints are headed to the 5A playoffs next week.
The Saints won 28-22 last year – and have won eight of the past 10 — but Springville still holds the 28-23 edge all time in the longest-running rivalry for either school, which started back in 1964.
Tribune prediction: St. Clair County 24, Springville 14
Last week’s record: 4-1
Season’s record 38-7 (84.4%)