By Erik Harris, sports editor
PINSON — The Pinson Valley Indians will play for the Class 6A state championship next Friday night in Tuscaloosa.
To get there, the third-ranked Tribe (11-2) needed playoff wins over Arab, Shades Valley, No. 1 Oxford and No. 2 Mountain Brook. The final step in that journey — a 27-10 decision over the Spartans — played out on Friday night at Willie Adams Stadium in Pinson.
“This is exciting,” said first-year head coach Sam Shade. “Since we started, every workout, every practice, the last thing they say is, ‘1-2-3 state champs!’ and that’s what they want.”
Linebacker Alijah May opened up the scoring on Friday night, scooping up a fumble and returning it 46 yards to the end zone for a 6-0 lead with 7:22 remaining in the opening quarter.
Pinson Valley extended the lead to 13-0 on its next possession when Sharpe shot up the middle for a 93-yard touchdown run. He also finished the evening with a 39-yard score with 1:05 remaining in the fourth, setting the final score at 27-10. Sharpe averaged 20 yards per carry on eight calls for the Tribe.
On a rainy night in Pinson, the home team ran the ball 30 times on just 32 total plays from scrimmage. Every bit of the Indians’ 242 yards of offense came on the ground.
Quarterback Zach Pyron ate up 53 of those yards on a read-option keeper down the home sideline. His long touchdown run stretched the difference to 17 points with 9:34 remaining in the fourth.
“We only threw the ball two times tonight and that’s what happens when the weather is like this,” said Pyron. “When I kept it and broke that tackle, I was just thinking ‘don’t get chased down.’”
For Pyron, a junior transfer from Fyffe, this will be his third straight championship game appearance as a high school quarterback.
“It feels great,” said Pyron. “I’ve just been blessed since my freshman year just to be playing with guys that work extremely hard and are super dedicated. At Fyffe, we worked hard and here at Pinson, everybody has the same goal.”
With Pyron, Sharpe, and a physical front leading the offense, the Indians were no less impressive on the defensive side. Mountain Brook squeaked out 161 yard of offense in the season-ending loss. The Spartans were forced into five punts and finished with 10 first downs. They also turned it over on downs twice.
Mountain Brook’s one touchdown came courtesy of Jackson Burwell, who punched it in from 3 yards out to cut the deficit to 20-10 with 2:10 remaining in the game.
Sharpe answered that score with his second TD rush of the night, pushing the game out of reach.
“It feels good to be going back, we’ve got to finish with a bang, though,” said Pinson Valley senior Ga’Quincy McKinstry.
The Indians scored another defensive touchdown, Michael Sharpe Jr. ran for 160 yards and two scores, and Pinson Valley marched on to its third semifinal victory in the last four years. The Indians notched their first two state crowns in 2017 and 2018 under former head coach Patrick Nix.
Pinson Valley will face Spanish Fort in the Class 6A finals next Friday night in Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.