By Joshua Huff, sports editor
TRUSSVILLE — With the monkey now temporarily off of Hewitt-Trussville’s back following a 34-21 victory over Huffman this past Friday that ended a two-game skid, the Huskies return to Class 7A Region 3 play this week against one of the region’s top teams, Vestavia Hills.
Win, and the Huskies will travel to face undefeated Mountain Brook in week eight in possession of the fourth and final playoff spot; Lose, and the Huskies slip to 1-3 in the region, two games behind the Rebels with No. 1 Thompson still waiting in the wings.
Note: This is all based around if Spain Park loses to Thompson this week, which is likely. The Jaguars sit 2-3, 1-2 overall. Should the Huskies and the Jaguars both win, the Jaguars will hold the advantage at 2-2 in region play after defeating Hewitt-Trussville, 28-24.
With just four games remaining in the season, the Huskies find themselves facing a gauntlet of teams whose combined record is 14-6 with Tuscaloosa County holding the only sub .500 record at 0-5, 0-3.
Should Hewitt-Trussville fall to Vestavia Hills, the Huskies can only hope that a brutal three-game stretch for the Rebels (at Thompson, at Hoover and vs. Oak Mountain) takes its toll. A Rebel victory on Friday, followed with consecutive losses to Thompson, Hoover and Oak Mountain will send Vestavia Hills to a 3-4 region final record. Hewitt-Trussville, with a loss to Vestavia Hills, will need to defeat Mountain Brook, Tuscaloosa County and Thompson to move to 4-3 in the region to move ahead of Vestavia Hills and avoid the tiebreaker.
Vestavia Hills closes out the season against non-region Huffman.
This path is predicated on the expectation that Hoover, Mountain Brook and Thompson continue to hold court over Region 3, and Spain Park, Oak Mountain and Tuscaloosa County continue to vie for the bottom of the barrel. Should the current trend continue, Oak Mountain and Tuscaloosa County will remain on the outside looking in with no expectation of battling for a playoff spot. The only issue is if Spain Park somehow sweeps Thompson, Hoover, Oak Mountain and Tuscaloosa County, and Hewitt-Trussville loses just one region game and Vestavia Hills loses two region games between now and November.
Should that happen, Spain Park will jump both Hewitt-Trussville and Vestavia Hills for the fourth and final playoff spot with Thompson, Mountain Brook and Hoover just ahead.
However, winning two of those four seems more likely for Spain Park, which would send them to 3-4 in the region at the conclusion of the regular season.
So, should a Hewitt-Trussville loss occur this Friday, the Huskies will need to win out and hope that Spain Park wins at most two out of its final four region games and Vestavia Hills losses three of its final four region games.
A Hewitt-Trussville win still does not afford the Huskies any chance for a breather. Both Vestavia Hills and Hewitt-Trussville have a brutal final stretch. The Huskies have two difficult games on tap as does the Rebels. With that, the importance of this game is magnified because it very well come down to who holds the tiebreaker heading into the playoffs.
The Huskies enter this Friday coming off a Huffman victory that provided a breath of fresh air to a Huskies team that has been hit hard by injuries.
“(The win) was big for us mentally,” Hewitt-Trussville head coach Josh Floyd said. “We’ve had a rough few weeks. We’ve lost a couple of games but you know, we’ve had a lot of kids get injured. Just mentally I think it was good for our kids to get back on the winning side tonight.”
Hewitt-Trussville was led by the defense of Malachi Moore and quarterback Jackson Holland.
“Jackson made some big plays for us,” Floyd said. “He had some tough runs when we need them and made some passes when we needed. It was hard to get in rhythm on offense, we had so many penalties. That’s the third different quarterback to start the game in six games. I’m really proud of Jackson.”
In Vestavia Hills’ most recent victory over Shades Valley, 17-0, the Rebels accounted for just 88 rushing yards and just 222 yards of total offense.
Despite Hewitt-Trussville’s 41-6 win over Vestavia Hills on 2018, the Rebels have been dominant in the all-time series, leading 12-2.
For now, Vestavia Hills and Hewitt-Trussville are vying for the final playoff spot. If Spain Park does not make a late push, and the top three teams continue to win, the battle for the final spot will come down to Friday night with the loser facing a tough remaining schedule.