Future looking bright for CCHS
Though the Chilton County High players, coaches and fans probably feel nothing but disappointment about Friday night’s loss to Shelby County High in the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs, the game will have many more positive implications than negative ones for the Tigers in the future.
The Tigers will still say they should have won the game, and they could have easily. CCHS held a double-digit lead in the third quarter. But, in the end, the host Wildcats did what they’ve done to each of the other 10 teams they’ve dispatched this season: The ‘Cats ran the ball down their opponents’ throats. Running backs Tae Lewis and Darion Sutton have been at it all season, but this time even quarterback Braten Dill got in on the fun. The trio combined for more than 400 rushing yards in the game and, in three consecutive scoring drives late in the 41-31 win, squashed any chance the visitors had of winning the game.
There is only one way to defeat a team that relies on a dominant ground attack and a strong defense, and the Tigers executed the script perfectly until the defense simply couldn’t hold up. Chilton got on the board first and didn’t fall behind by a significant amount until late. A SCHS lead would have allowed them to forgo any thought of throwing the football and encourage its defenders to pin their ears back on the way to CCHS quarterback Taylor Hughes.
Hughes found himself under much duress anyway—and the noise produced by the home crowd was also a factor—but the junior had the game of his life anyway. Hughes threw for more than 300 yards and was his team’s leading rusher. More importantly, it was obvious that Hughes’ teammates, and the quarterback himself, had complete confidence that he would make the throw every time a crucial moment in the game presented itself.
To be as good as they can be, the Tigers will have to develop a running threat beside Hughes to take some of the pressure off the guy taking the snaps. The defense also must improve. But the competitiveness CCHS displayed at the end of coach Brian Carter’s first season on the job will only give the program momentum going into next year.
Even in a loss, the Tigers played well enough to excite players and supporters alike. That can mean a world of difference this offseason.