Photo by Ted Melton
Spain Park Football
Spain Park's D'Arie Johnson (1) runs with the ball in a game between Spain Park and Gadsden City on Friday, August 19, 2016, at Titan Stadium in Gadsden, Alabama.
The Spain Park High School football team has a streak on the line this week.
The Jaguars have not lost a region game since October 17, 2014, against Oak Mountain, a string of eight in a row, including a 7-0 mark last fall.
Vestavia Hills (1-0) visits Spain Park Stadium Friday night to take aim at resetting that mark, behind the running combination of William Schaffield and Toliver Chatwood, who rushed for 86 and 67 yards, respectively, last week against Homewood.
The Rebels relied so heavily on the running game in the 20-3 victory that they did not attempt a pass in the second half.
In the matchup between the Jags and Rebels last fall, Spain Park rolled to a 21-0 win over the Rebels. Perry Young, a former Jag and current University of Cincinnati linebacker, spurred his team to victory with a momentum-shifting field-goal block.
Last week in the win over Muscle Shoals, quarterback Hunter Howell was 19-of-24 for 223 yards with completions to seven different receivers. Running back Larry Wooden had a team-best six catches for 85 yards. Wooden also led a balanced rushing attack with 85 yards on eight carries. Sophomore Jalen Henderson added 81 yards on 10 carries and junior D’arie Johnson added 30 yards on seven carries.
Head coach Shawn Raney was pleased with the offense's balance.
“It is nice,” he said. “I thought throughout the summer offensively we had more explosive kids at the wide out and, then, with the three running backs we got, it gives us a lot of options.”
The Jags (2-0) used those options to compile 223 yards through the air and 215 yards on the ground against Muscle Shoals. Spain Park scored on four of five first-half offensive possessions and was able to take time off the clock in the second half.
It was Howell and passing game that got things working quickly in the first half. Howell misfired on his first pass but then hit 10 in a row to help the Jaguars take a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Howell ended the first two drives with touchdown passes of 15 yards to Larry Wooden and 38 yards to Jalen McMillan.
The Spain Park defense was equally impressive, allowing 239 yards on 50 offensive plays.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on Friday.