Panthers can’t spoil Shelby’s perfection
It was all treats and no tricks for the Shelby County Wildcats Friday night downing the Jemison Panthers 24-0. The shutout win was the first of the season and closes out the regular season with a flawless 10-0 record.
The last time the Wildcats secured an unblemished season was in 1984 under Head Coach Ricky Seale. It took 24 years for that mountaintop high to come back around for the Shelby County. Ironically enough, both of those teams had to beat the Panthers to finish out the year. History repeated itself at Papa McCombs stadium in 2008.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our kids and what they have done”, Wildcat Head Coach Ryan Herring said. “To be 10 and 0 is just a testament to our kids. We put God first and hard work has paid off for us. When hard work pays off, it makes the coaches feel good and when stuff like this happens, you just feel good for the kids.”
Both teams had a stab on the offensive side of the ball with nothing to brag about to begin the game.
It wasn’t until an errant Panther punt that allowed the Wildcat offense to hit its stride. It was the stride of Tae Lewis that the Wildcat faithful know all so well with him dashing around right-end for a 35-yard touchdown scamper. A botched snap on the point after attempt gave the Wildcats the narrow 6-0 lead.
The Panther offense battled back marching down to the Wildcat 40-yard line. After a turnover on downs, on fourth and three, the Wildcats were back in business.
With the first quarter below the three minute mark, SCHS was in a dilemma facing fourth and twenty from the Panther 30-yard line.
Coach Herring makes the trusty fullback screen call only to see it payoff with Darion Sutton coasting to the end zone to add another score for the home team. The first quarter came to an end with a blocked PAT and the Wildcats leading 12-0.
On the ensuing Panther possession Demonte Ford was in the right place at the right time for the Wildcats when he picked off an Eric Argo pass to nestle the Wildcats up at the Panthers 40-yard line.
SCHS seized the opportunity and mustered up a five minute, 11-play scoring drive with Lewis hitting the end zone on a sweep around left end. With an unsuccessful 2-point attempt, the Wildcats held an 18-0 going into the half.
The Panthers hit the field in the second half and marched down the field led by Argo. A Merrell Morrow run set up the Panthers at the Wildcat 12-yard line. However, penalties riddled the Panther drive and forced another turnover on downs at the Wildcat 25-yard line.
SCHS then countered with another scoring drive with a Sutton going in from the 19-yard line. The ‘Cats offense had worked up a comfortable 24-0 lead in the third quarter and then let the defense shine the rest of the way.
If offense sells tickets and defense wins championships, the Wildcats have the ingredients to move steadily along in their trek to the Super Six in Birmingham.
A surging Wildcat defense held the Panther offense to a simple 7 yards of total offense in the first half, while just allowing 54 total yards for the game. Additionally, Dustin Wood added to the pot with two interceptions of his own.
Offensively, the Wildcats tallied 248 yards on the ground and 54 yards through the air. Braten Dill went 3 for 9 with one touchdown toss.
The Panthers just couldn’t find a comfort zone against the clicking Wildcats Friday night and Panther Head Coach Brad Abbott gave all the credit in the world to the ‘Cats.
“We just couldn’t get anything going tonight”, Abbott said. “A good team takes on the persona of their coach and Coach Herring has his team playing well right now. They have a great football team.”