By Damian Mitchell
PINSON—Willie Adams Stadium in Pinson will be the battlefield for the rematch between Pinson Valley and Clay-Chalkville in the Alabama High School Athletic Association state playoff semifinals. This will be the fourth time the two teams have squared off in the span of one year and will be the 15th time the teams square off with Clay leading the series 10-4.
The four wins for Pinson Valley have all come consecutively since 2016. In 2017, the Indians pulled out an early 34-32 regular season win and added a 37-7 victory in the semifinals of the playoffs on their way to their first state championship. Fast forward to 2018 and you will have the same scenario: win and represent the north in the class 6A state championship, or lose and end the season.
The Clay-Chalkville Cougars have worked their way to a 12-1 record, with their only loss coming to the hands of the Indians earlier this season. Even in that loss, the Cougars have played championship level football throughout the year.
The offense is led by three-year starting quarterback Willie Miller. He has shown to be the leader for his team and is the captain of an offense that comes in averaging 41.5 points per game. He has thrown for 2,215 yards with 15 touchdowns through the air. He adds to the attack with his rushing totals, as well as he comes in with 776 yards with 18 touchdowns.
Former Clay-Chalkville quarterback Hayden Moore is not surprised by Miller’s role in the offense.
“I could see the potential. . . I knew he was going to be a great quarterback,” Moore said after noticing Miller in practice while at Clay.
The defense of Pinson Valley held Miller to 95 yards passing in their first meeting this year, but did surrender 158 yards rushing to him. Their defensive front knows his playmaking ability and will have to put pressure on him to make him make hurried throws and mistakes with his eyes.
Pinson Valley enters the game offensively, averaging 38.9 points per game behind their quarterback and Auburn commit Bo Nix. He has 3,163 yards and 44 touchdowns through the air. He has also shown off his legs with 303 yards and six touchdowns on the ground, which shows the dual-threat tag to his five star ranking as a quarterback.
In their first matchup earlier this season, the Cougar defense was lit up by Nix as he threw for 409 yards and three touchdowns. The defense was still able to intercept him and still fought and only fell short 28-21.
The defense of Clay-Chalkville has not let another opponent score score more than 17 since that loss to the Indians, so to say they have a chip on their shoulder is an understatement. They want to get that defeat out of their mouths and limit Nix to a lesser performance.
This game has been one of the most anticipated games in the state. The atmosphere will be electric and will feel like a championship game.
Former Pinson Valley quarterback Brooks Garrett said he remembers playing against the Cougars when he was under center. He believes Nix and the Indians will get the better of the Cougars once again in 2018.
“I remember us going into overtime with those guys my junior year and coming up short,” he said. “My prediction is Pinson wins 31-38.”
Moore believes his Cougars will be the victors in this showdown.
“ I’d say 35-21,” he said.
The game will kickoff at 7 p.m. this Friday, Nov. 30, at Willie Adams Stadium in Pinson.
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