Clay-Chalkville returns home in hopes of cementing final playoff spot
Joshua Huff, sports editor
CLAY — Clay-Chalkville returned from the dead this past Friday with a resounding 31-13 victory over Shades Valley. The win halted a two-game region losing streak and propelled the Cougars into the final playoff spot in Region 6 with just three more region games left in the season.
That region slog continues this week as Clay-Chalkville welcomes a beleaguered Pell City squad into the friendly confines of Cougar Stadium. In fact, the contest will be the final regular season home game for the Cougars.
The Panthers enter the contest alone at the bottom of Class 6A, Region 6 with an 0-3 record. Clay-Chalkville sits at 1-2 in the region, just above Shades Valley, Huffman and Pell City. Oxford, Pinson Valley and Gardendale round out the top three.
The Cougars will look to continue the momentum built after grinding out a victory over Shades Valley this past week. In the win, the Cougars took control from the onset. Behind Damione Ward’s 195 passing yards on 11-for-15 attempts, Clay-Chalkville relied on an offense that finished the game with passes of 54, 33, 25 and 28 yards and touchdown drives of 71 and 80 yards.
Clay-Chalkville’s Lazarius Hinkle added 82 yards on 12 carries with a touchdown. In all, the Cougars recorded 358 yards of total offense in the win.
Up next is a Pell City team that has the unfortunate distinction of having the region’s worst defense. The Panthers have allowed 110 points throughout region play, and they have scored a paltry 26 points through three region games. Overall, Pell City allows 28 points per game, while just scoring an average of 19 points per game.
The Panthers are coming off a 45-6 victory over an Etowah team that entered the game undefeated. Pell City was led by running back Kelton Seals. Seals rushed 23 times for 101 yards. Quarterback Mitchell Gossett competed 9-of-13 passes for just 104 yards. Jarrod Posey snagged four receptions for 61 yards.
The Pell City defense held Class 5A Etowah to just 83 passing yards and forced three turnovers. The Panthers finished with 377 total offensive yards, 264 of those yards came on the ground.
The return to Class 6A play for Pell City is a metaphorical return to Earth. The Panthers have just won one region game dating back to Oct. 13, 2017, when they defeated Albertville, 24-13.
Historically, Clay-Chalkville has made easy work of the Panthers. The Cougars defeated Pell City 61-0 in 2018 and hold an 11-2 all-time series lead.
A win for the Cougars will allow them to keep pace in a region where the gap between the top three teams is widening over the bottom four teams.