Photo by Dan Starnes
Spain Park coach Shawn Raney gets a shower from his players after the Jaguars' win over then-No. 1 Hoover.
Spain Park, coming off perhaps its biggest regular-season win in school history, takes its Class 7A No. 2 ranking into a battle with Vestavia Hills on Friday night at Jaguar Stadium.
The Jaguars jumped from No. 8 in the Class 7A rankings to No. 2 after shutting out then-No. 1 Hoover 17-0. It was the first “on-the-field” win over the Bucs in school history, discounting a forfeit.
Bob Jones is the new No. 1 team, but the Jags did pick up four first-place votes. Hoover dropped to fifth.
The big win also put the Jags in prime position to win Class 7A, Region 3 as the only unbeaten team in region play. But Hoover, Hewitt-Trussville and Vestavia Hills are all 3-1 in region play. The good news in the scenario is that the Jags already own wins over the Bucs and Huskies, giving them the tiebreaker over them. A win over the improving Rebels on Friday would go a long way toward locking up the region.
The Jaguars will look to do what they did against Hoover. Defense, running game and special teams is the calling card for coach Shawn Raney’s squad. The shutout of Hoover was the Jags’ third this season. Meanwhile, Larry Wooden and Wade Streeter power the punishing running game, and Joey Beatty continues to make the big throws when needed. Kickers Tyler Sumpter and Crosby Gray have been outstanding in all phases.
The Rebels forced seven turnovers last week in a 23-13 win over Thompson. They jumped out to a 13-0 lead, reminiscent of the previous week’s start against Oxford. After that, coach Buddy Anderson’s squad (5-1, 3-1) turned to the running game and defense to put away the Warriors.
The Rebels are led by quarterback Brett Jones and the running of Walker Minor and Toliver Chatwood. Although the Rebels prefer to run from their I-Formation, Jones went 14-of-18 passing for 125 yards for a very effective night against Thompson.
Defensive back Nolan Turner has been a standout all season. Curry Howard booted three field goals against Thompson.
Spain Park won the meeting between these teams last year 14-13, but the Rebels hold a 9-3 lead in the series all-time.