FRIDAY NIGHT PREVIEW: Panthers brace for star QB Clark

Published 1:25 pm Thursday, October 24, 2013

Jemison’s game at Calera on Friday will determine which team finishes second in Class 4A, Region 4, which is significant because the top two teams in each region host first-round playoff games.

The game will be one to watch for another reason: Calera boasts one of the state’s top players in senior quarterback/defensive back Ronnie Clark.

“He’s a special player,” Jemison coach Jake Hogan said. “I don’t think there’s anybody in the state that plays similarly to him.”

Hogan said he thinks Clark, who recently committed to play college football for the University of Alabama, is the best athlete the Panthers have faced or will face.

The Eagles run plenty of plays where Clark has the option to pass or run.

But Calera also plays solid defense. The Eagles have shut out four opponents this season and allowed more than 20 points scored just twice.

Hogan said the Eagles run a 3-3-5 stack defense and like to bring pressure on the opposing offense.

Jemison will be looking to rebound after an underwhelming performance in a 26-21 win at Dora. The Panthers amassed just 158 total yards.

“I still don’t think we’ve played a perfect game, and that’s probably a good thing,” Hogan said. “We talk about not letting a perfect game be a fantasy.”

The JHS defense, meanwhile, remained stout even when two crucial contributors, linebackers RaeQuane Jones and Connor Lane, went down with injuries. Hogan said Shawn Poe and Trea Sanders, respectively, filled those positions well.

“I was really proud of the way we played,” Hogan said. “We showed a lot of grit last week. I told the Dora players and coaches that my hat was off to them. Their kids bought in a sold out. They faked a punt on us, ran some things we haven’t seen them run. We weathered it.”

Hogan said he thinks the Calera game will come down to who can control the line of scrimmage.

“They’ve got arguably the best athlete in the state in the backfield and a good offensive line,” he said. “If you can take one of those out of the equation, you’re odds of winning go up substantially.”

Who will win the Jemison-Calera game?

  • Jemison (54%, 28 Votes)
  • Calera (46%, 24 Votes)

Total Voters: 52

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Also Friday night

Holy Spirit at Billingsley

Billingsley has won five consecutive games, and they could make it six in a row with a win over Holy Spirit, which has won just once this season and is winless in region play. The Bears are building momentum for the playoffs.

Montgomery Academy at Isabella

The past two weeks have proven difficult for Isabella, as the Mustangs have fallen from a tie for first place in the region to fourth place. A win Friday would help the team mentally, if it not in the standings.

Maplesville at Keith

With a region championship already locked up, Maplesville’s primary focus for its last two games are to stay sharp and try to keep improving. Keith, which is 4-4 on the season, should prove a good opponent for those goals.

Chilton Co. at Ramsay

Chilton County clinched a playoff berth with last week’s win over John Carroll combined with a Talladega loss, so there might be an inclination to relax this week. But the Tigers need to focus on being their best before the playoffs.

B.B. Comer at Thorsby

Thorsby’s loss to Montevallo last week was particularly disappointing because it seemed like Thorsby’s best chance at a win since a season-opening victory over Verbena. B.B. Comer will present a stiffer test for the Rebels.

Winterboro at Verbena

Verbena is still looking for its first win of the season, and this week’s game against Winterboro, a fellow winless team, might prove to be the Red Devils’ best opportunity, considering VHS visits 6-2 Billingsley next week in the season finale.