By Bobby Mathews, Sports Editor
PINSON — No. 1-ranked Clay-Chalkville (7-0, 5-0) comes to town tomorrow night. It’s a huge 6A Region 6 matchup, and certainly the biggest game of the regular season for both teams.
The Cougars bring a high-powered offense that’s racked up 365 points, and as a team has allowed only 91 points. But Pinson Valley (5-2, 3-1) has been here before. In 2020, the Indians dealt Clay-Chalkville its only regular-season loss of the year, claiming a 27-10 victory.
Comparatively, Pinson Valley has run up 248 points, while allowing 155 points. Each team has two shutouts to its credit.
“Things are definitely similar to last year,” Pinson Valley head coach Sam Shade said. during a Thursday morning interview. “Of course, the personnel is different. We lost some really experienced players and leadership, but our guys have made a ton of progress over the course of the season. Our hope is that we get better each game all the way to the end of the season.”
Pinson Valley’s defense is preparing for a multi-pronged offensive attack. With multiple skill players like Khalib Johnson at quarterback, Ed Osley at halfback and Marquavious White and Mario Craver at wideout, the Cougars have been proven impossible to stop. At least so far.
“I don’t think they have a lot of weaknesses on offense,” Shade said. “They have a quarterback who can move around and extend plays. He can make things happen, and their wide receivers, those guys can run and catch the ball really well. We’ve got our work cut out for us. Hopefully, we’ll make one or two more plays than they do.”
In good news for the Indians, they will have senior quarterback Zach Pyron back after he had to leave the Jackson-Olin game with an injury earlier this season. The 36-28 loss to the Mustangs was costly in more ways than one as Pyron, Mike Sharpe and Jaylen Taylor have all missed playing time since that game. Pinson Valley found ways to win its next two games as backup Keywone Posey got to start both games and the Indians came away with a win each time, keeping their hopes for a region title alive.
“As a coach, you want the team to be as healthy as they can be,” Shade said. “But at the same time, an injury allows someone to step up and for the team to get behind that person. Take Keywone Posey, for example. He’s a freshman. The experience he gained over the last couple of games will be invaluable for him.”
A Pinson Valley win on Friday night would throw the region title race open. Clay-Chalkville can clinch the title with a win. But for Shade and his players, thinking ahead like that isn’t part of the game plan.
“We talk about playing one play, one quarter, one half, one game,” Shade said. “We go into this ballgame, and I don’t think we’ve changed anything we do to prepare. What we do try to do is take the lessons we’ve learned over the course of the season — even in the losses — and hope we can use it to help us win.”
Even if the stakes weren’t so high, this would be a rivalry game. The schools are six miles apart, and the kids and coaches know each other well.
“A lot of these kids have played together when they were younger,” Shade said. “They know each other. Some of them are friends, some of them are related to kids on the other team. That creates a rivalry, but also a level of respect.”
Pinson Valley hosts the Cougars at 7 p.m. on Friday, October 15, 2021.