Tigers end spring with loss to Calera

By Brandon Sumrall / Special to the Advertiser

Spring training for next season’s Chilton County Tigers varsity football team came to an end on May 19 and not the way many had hoped, as the Tigers lost at home to the Calera Eagles 38-7.

For Chilton County head Coach Tal Morrison, the improvements made during the spring are just a stepping-stone in the process leading to next season.

“There is a good bit what we can work on,” he said. “First off, this spring the kids worked really hard, and there was a lot of positives throughout the spring from practice one to practice nine. I seen more out of them during those nine practices than I did at points during this game. We have a lot of new guys, but we can do better than what we showed.”

While summer workouts and fall practice will go a long way to determining each team’s success next season, Friday night’s action afforded each coaching staff a glimpse of the future of their programs.

With the Tigers taking the opening coin toss and electing to defer their option to the second half, the Eagles would start their first possession of the game at their own 25-yard line. A second and 10 pass from Cornelius Brown to Dee Woodson for 16 yards would give the Eagles their first first down of the game and would get the offense moving. Pass completions by Brown of 9, 11, 7, and 16 yards would move the Calera offense down inside the Chilton red zone, where Terry Burrells would cap off the drive on a 1-yard touchdown run. With Zach Ford adding the PAT, the Eagles took an early 7-0 lead.

A quick three and out by Chilton County would see the Tigers forced to punt and would set Calera up for their second drive of the night, starting at their own 35.

A 14-yard scamper by Brown would give the Eagles a first down near midfield followed by a 33-yard connection from Brown to Quindarius Crews that would set Calera up first and 10 at the Tigers’ 18. Four plays later Brown would again connect with Crews, but this time it would be for six points to extend the Calera lead to 14.

The Tiger offense would respond by showing their first signs of life thanks to a 30-yard run by quarterback Shikeem Laister. However, a fumble on the next play would fall into the hands of Calera’s Markell Kelley to set the Eagles up first and 10 at their own 40.

Brown would again go to work with pass completions of 26 and 12 along with runs of 8 and 6 yards to move the Eagle offense back down inside the Chilton County red zone. A 6-yard run by Brown on third down would come up just short of another Calera first down and would set up a 47-yard field goal attempt that would fall just short to turn the ball over to the Tigers.

A third and 4 at their own 42 would see Laister pick up a big first down for the Tigers thanks to a 20-yard run that would move Chilton across midfield. Runs of 12 and 5 yards by Cameron Wright, along with a pass from Laister to Mason Dennis, would set the Tigers up first and 10 at the Calera 30. Three plays later and Dennis would cap the drive on a 13-yard touchdown carry that would be followed by a PAT from Brian Giacobbe to make it a 14-7 game early in the second quarter.

The Chilton defense would stand tall on the ensuing Eagles possession while forcing their first three and out of the game, but a stalled ensuing possession would do little to help the Tigers as Chilton would remain down by 7.

Calera would not go away empty handed for a second straight time as a 75-yard drive would be capped on a 22-yard field goal by Zach Ford that would extend the Calera lead to 17-7.

A three and out by the Tigers would see Chilton forced to punt while setting the Eagles up first and 10 at their own 25. Another scoring drive lead by Brown would see Calera march 75 yards while capping the drive on a 1-yard touchdown carry by Burrells to make it a 24-7 Calera lead at the half.

A pair of early first downs for the Tigers to start the second half would see Chilton move across the midfield stripe, but a first and 10 play from the Calera 41 would see Laister’s pass fall into the hands of Eagles defensive back Derrick Edwards to turn the ball over to Calera.

Going to work from their own 8-yard line, Brown would once again lead the charge behind a 92-yard scoring drive that would be capped on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Brown to Dee Woodson that would make it a 31-7 Calera lead.

With both teams electing to play deep into their bench during the second half, a 27-yard touchdown run by Calera’s Chris Cotton would be the closing highlight for the Eagles, as Calera would cap off a 37-7 win over the Tigers.

For Chilton County, the opportunity to get some younger players a little in-game experience may be just what the Tigers needed going into summer workouts.

“There were some positives for us,” Morrison said. “We moved the ball a little bit, but for a lot of these guys it was their first game, first live action. We have a lot of new guys and a lot of guys that have not played before. I’m proud of them. We can do a lot better, and we are going to do a lot better.”

Brown finished the game for Calera with 344 yards passing on 38 attempts and 24 completions with two touchdowns. Crews and Woodson each went over 100 yards receiving with Crews finishing with 122 yards and a touchdown while Woodson finished with 111 yards and a touchdown.

Laister lead the Chilton County offense with 87 yards rushing along with 18 yards through the air. Cameron Wright was the Tigers leading tailback with 44 yards on 8 carries.

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