Calera @ Montevallo – Friday 27th August 2010
South Shelby County bragging rights are up for grabs next Friday when the Calera Eagles face off against the Montevallo Bulldogs at Montevallo in the season opener for both teams. Although these two rivals reside only nine miles apart, and have been playing each-other since they started out in youth football, this will be the only chance local fans will get to see them clash this year.
Both teams come into this week’s fixture on a loss after the first week of play, but both will be bouyed by their performances against higher classified teams. Calera posted some pretty strong offensive numbers in their 28-20 loss to the 6A Shades Valley team, while Montevallo consoled themselves with a late rally against Jemison to overcome earlier sloppy play.
The Eagles go into the match as favorites since they beat the Dawgs in the 3A play-offs last year. They also enjoy a significant school size advantage, with expanding enrolment providing them with considerably more talent to draw on (which has earned them a reclassification into the 4A championship this year).
But as Montevallo fans are quick to point out…
“it’s not the size of the Dawg in the fight that counts, it’s the size of the fight in the Dawg.”
…And if Montevallo are going in as the under-dawgs, you’d never know it in the locker-room. There’s many reasons they’ll give you as to why this match is not a foregone conclusion.
For starters, it’ll be an emotional game for the Dawgs, who will be taking the field for the first time since the tragic death of then encumbent head coach Richard Gilliam in a traffic accident during the off-season. There will be a memorial service at the Montevallo field which bears his name15 minutes to kick-off, and his family will be there to will the Dawgs on.
Next on the list is the coaching. Gilliam’s replacement, Jamie Williams, has a lot to prove as this is his first appointment as a head coach. Prior to taking up the post at Montevallo Williams called the shots for the Auburn Tigers offensive line, and you can be sure his playbook is full of exciting and effective tricks to clip the Eagles’ wings. While he espouses a philosophy grounded in academics and character, that talk is likely to be swept aside when the whistle blows on this first real test of his leadership. While he’s philosophical about the outcome, and the importance of playing the whole season, Coach Williams says “I’d trade three regular season wins for a victory against Calera”.
And then there’s the players themselves, who Coach Williams thinks may be the best Montevallo team ever. While school numbers have been pretty static year to year, the football program is buoyed by an almost doubling in participation this year, resulting in a much broader base. The team has found an unlikely hero in RJ Scaife, whose 5’4” frame tips the scales at a mere 125lbs. But don’t underestimate him!
Scaife leads the team both physically and emotionally, playing both sides of the ball. He’s the starting quarterback, and a starting Defensive Back/Safety. If he is able to pull it together on Friday, you can expect the whole Dawg-pack to be on fire.
Will these three massive changes be enough for Montevallo to overcome the strength and size of the Calera pack? With a lot of pride at stake, you can be sure both teams will be at their best, and that this game will surely come down to the wire. We will be biting our nails in the stands waiting to share the outcome with you.