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 Clay-Chalkville at Pinson Valley | Friday - October 15, 2021 | Class 6A, Region 6 Game 

WR #3 Marquarius White and QB #2 Khalib Johnson (Clay-Chalkville) before game with Gardendale earlier in the season

The #1 Clay-Chalkville Cougars travel to #10 Pinson Valley to play the Indians in a key Class 6A, Region 6 game at Willie Adams Stadium on Friday night. Pinson Valley has a seven-game winning streak between the two teams. 

Clay-Chalkville is 5-0 and Pinson Valley is 3-1 in region play and the Indians need to get a win over the Cougars get into a three-way tie with Jackson-Olin in the region. The Jackson-Olin Mustangs defeated Pinson Valley (36-29) earlier in the season while Clay-Chalkville defeated Jackson-Olin (46-14) in week six. 

Clay-Chalkville (8-0) is looking to break that streak and get the region title with a win. "I really believe we are getting better each week and playing for each other," said Cougars head coach Drew Gilmer. "The bottom line is this team loves playing football. It doesn't matter if it is in practice or the games. It is fun to coach a team like that."

The Cougars offense is very effective averaging 52.1 points per game. Quarterback Khalib Johnson is the one directing the offense for the Cougars. "Khalib has all the physical tools that you would want in a player along being a big, tall kid," added Gilmer. "He can run around and make plays being very athletic. He can make every throw along with being very competitive. He is a good kid, very smart and a student of the game. He has a great personality you love to be around and play with." 

On the season, the Louisville commitment has completed 83-of-125 passing for 1,361 yards with 20 touchdowns and only two interceptions. Add in three rushing touchdowns this year. Johnson can make all the throws and does a great job of standing tall in the pocket letting his receivers get loose on a play.

The Cougars have two solid running backs in Ed Osley and Cam'ron Williams. "Ed is having a good year and he has grown so much as a football player," said Gilmer. "He is a top notch kid. He will do anything you ask him to do. He was grown in size this past year that has helped his game. Very good dynamic top end speed and he plays very physical. You don't want to tackle him 20 times in a game due to being so physical. He does a good job of pass protection and you can send him out in routes."

On the season, Osley has 913 yards on 116 carries and 12 touchdowns. He averages 7.9 yards per carry on the season. Williams can play in the wildcat position where he can do anything with the ball. Throw it, hand it off or just run the football with his quickness and speed.

At receiver, the Cougars have four good ones that can make a big play at anytime on the field. Marquarious "Squirrel" White is having a big year. The Tennessee commitment has off the charts speed and he is a problem for opposing defenses. A receiver with great hands and very good football IQ. "Squirrel can stop and start along with having the top speed on the field," said Gilmer. "He runs great routes, great hands and they are such a great combination." For the season, White has 20 receptions for 520 yards and eight touchdowns. White had a 65-yard kickoff return touchdown against Hueytown.

Next at receiver is Jaylen Mbakwe. Also, the sophomore receiver can play defensive back for the Cougars and go both ways if needed. "Jaylen is a player like Squirrel, two elite speed guys," said Gilmer. "Anyone that wants to go one on one with him, he is going to make the play. We try to move him around in the scheme of things for defenses needing to communicate where everyone is on the field. That way we can get that one on one matchup that we like. He can take the top off going deep or if you play off of him, we can throw it to him short and make guys miss. When you have guys on the perimeter that can make players miss tackles, it just helps you on the offense so much." 

For the season, Mbakwe has 19 receptions for 328 yards and five touchdowns. Mbakwe has offers from Tennessee, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, Louisville, Virginia Tech and UAB. He has been to Alabama on a recruiting visit this season. Both White and Mbakwe have crazy per catch averages on the season. White is averaging 26.0 yards per catch while Mbakwe is averaging 17.3 yards per catch. Along with those two that get playing time is Amari Howell, Nate Owens and Mario Craver. Craver is another sophomore with great speed that can go deep.

On the offensive line, we have Kyrell Wiggins, Paul Lee, Corey Calvin, Pierre White and freshman AJ Williams. This group has done a good job of getting better each week of the season. Wiggins and Calvin are the leaders on the team. Calvin can play all three spots on offense. 

The Cougars defense is only giving up 12 points per game this season. "Guys are very physical at the point of attack," said Gilmer. "They are smart and are very good tacklers. We can do some different things on defense because they are so smart."

On defense, the defensive line is not huge but brings a lot of speed to the position. Kaleb Simon, Jamon Smith, Devin Finley, Kevin Hurley and Randall Cole lead the way for the Cougars. 

The linebackers are Jordan Walker, Rodarius Sykes, D'Angelo Barber and Coda Cooper. Barber leads the team with 55.5 tackles along with having seven sacks and 12 QB hurries on the season. 

The secondary has Lamar Croskey, Jayden Sweeney, Ormond Wallace, Mbakwe, Michael Yafondo, Cameron Jones and Dylan Simmons. "Lamar is a physical corner and you really can't do much with him like screens because he is so physical," added Gilmer. "He is involved in all our special teams and he is a heck of a player."

Pinson Valley (5-2) had a lot of new faces especially on the defensive side of the ball where they only returned two starters from last season. "We started the season off with a lot of guys that hadn't played a lot of ball and some new coaches to start the season," said Indians head coach Sam Shade. "We have made progress from game one till now. It has been a steady progression."

For Pinson Valley, they have averaged 35.4 points per game this season. The Indians have Zach Pyron at quarterback. The Georgia Tech commitment is having a good year for the Indians. "Zach saw a lot of progress from the end of last season till now," added Shade. "He did a lot of good things in the off season to get ready to play in the fall. It has really helped this team. He has picked up his leadership role and even his skill level. He has a stronger arm and has done a good job of getting his right reads." 

The Indians running backs are Mike Sharpe and Jaylen Taylor. Taylor, a transfer from Hoover, is the big back that just runs over defenders while Sharpe can make all the cuts on the field. "Mike is a great runner," said Shade. "Mike has good vision. He can find the little areas to run in that another back might not be able to do. He is very versatile. Can catch the ball well out of the backfield. He can block, cover kicks and punts. He is an all around unselfish player." For the season, Sharpe has 510 yards and eight touchdowns while Taylor has 407 yards and four touchdowns.

The wide receivers are very good in Korbyn Williams, Mario Byrd, Amare Thomas, Tyler Russell and Taborie Reed. "Amare has been very consistent player for us," said Shade. "He is having a great season. He has progressed as the season goes on. A sure handed guy on catching the football along with Mario and Korbyn." Thomas has four touchdown receptions in the last two games for the Indians.

The offensive line will need to play big against the Cougars. The lineman are Cameron Griffin, Omari Porter, Cameron Ambrose, Carson Moorer and Joel Brown. "These guys have delt with problems since the start of the season, but it is getting better for us," added Shade. "We had to move a defensive guy to the offensive line. Joel, Cameron and Carson are doing a good job for us." Griffin made the successful switch from the defensive line to offensive line for the Cougars.

The defense has given just over 22 points per game this season. "We have been a little up and down at times, we gave up some big plays that really hurt us, some bad penalties that cost us," added Shade. "Only returning two seniors from last year on defense, we have made progression. We had a lot of young players when we started back at our first game. They have grown so much till now. We have a new defensive coordinator and I like the progress we have made. I believe we will keep making more progress till the end of the season."

The defensive line has Jevonta Williams, Connor Knight, Jaylon Norwood and Jordan Jackson. Knight was just offered by Alabama A&M. "Connor has been hurt early in the season against Trussville, but he has made his way back," said Shade. "He still is not 100 percent but get back to full strength at some point this season." 

The linebackers have Zi'Keith Springfield, Jacobi Jackson, Carson Baylor, Rod Ivy, Carlos Ivy, and B.J. Diakite. Last season, Diakite was a big target at wide receiver and he has switched to a defensive end and linebacker position for the Indians.

In the secondary, the Indians have Jacobe Shade, Zac McCray, Ar'mare Sills, Armarius Butler and T.J. Metcalf. "T.J. been a good addition to our team," said Shade." You can see his leadership being a son of a coach. He lives and breathes football. Very passionate about the game. He is long at the safety position that can make plays in the passing game and the run game. He has been a big addition to our team."

It will be interesting to see if Pinson Valley can keep the scoring pace that Clay-Chalkville puts up week after week. Will the streak end Friday night?

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