By Rubin E. Grant
Tim Vakakes was in his office Saturday morning watching film of his first game as Spain Park’s new head football coach.
“We made plenty of mistakes,” Vakakes said. “Our kids just have got to figure out how to win.”
The Jaguars figured out a way in their opener, edging Calera 14-10 at home and giving Vakakes a victory in his debut.
“I’ve been in this long enough to appreciate a win,” said Vakakes, who had spent the past nine years as head coach at Jackson-Olin. “Sometimes you play well and feel you deserve to win and you don’t.”
Spain Park prevailed when senior quarterback Evan Smallwood scored on an 8-yard run with 23 seconds remaining. The touchdown capped a nine-play, 70-yard drive.
“That’s what you expect of him,” Vakakes said. “He’s the leader, the glue that keeps us together. He doesn’t panic and the other players follow him. He stepped up that last drive and made plays for us.”
Vakakes was the only one of the three new Over the Mountain coaches to win his debut. Vestavia Hills” Robert Evans suffered a 24-14 setback against Mountain Brook on Thursday and Hoover’s Wade Waldrop was on the losing end of a 17-14 decision to Auburn Friday night in the AHSAA Kickoff Classic at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery.
“Oh, wow,” Vakakes said when made aware that he was the only one of the new coaches to win their opener. “This business is crazy. Sometimes it makes you feel good and other times it makes you want to jump off the roof.”
Spain Park visits Briarwood Christian this week.
Homewood Clicks in ‘Battle of Lakeshore’
Prior to Homewood’s season-opener, Patriots head coach Ben Berguson said their offense was clicking.
“Most of the time when you start practice, the defense is ahead of the offense, but it’s the reverse this year,” Berguson said. “The offense has been good, hitting on all cylinders.”
That was clearly evident in the Patriots’ first game. Senior quarterback Woods Ray led Homewood on scoring drives on five of the six possessions he played in the first half as the Patriots built a 28-6 halftime lead and cruised to a 38-20 against John Carroll Catholic Friday night in the “Battle of Lakeshore” at Samford’s Seibert Stadium.
Ray threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to Charlie Reeves and scored on an 8-yard run.
The Patriots’ Jackson Parris had a 65-yard punt return for a touchdown.
John Carroll quarterback Carson McFadden passed for 238 yards and three touchdowns.
Lions Still No Match for Cougars
Briarwood Christian’s 2022 season began the same way its 2021 season ended – with a lopsided loss to Clay-Chalkville.
The defending Class 6A champion Cougars’ stifled the Lions’ highly touted senior quarterback Christopher Vizzina en route to a 48-0 shutout.
Vizzina, who has committed to Clemson, was held to only 93 passing yards while completing 13 of 22 attempts and was sacked four times.
Clay-Chalkville routed Briarwood 56-21 last year in the second round of the state playoffs.
Oak Mountain Takes Advantage
Oak Mountain was opportunistic on special teams, leading to 16 points as the Eagles downed visiting Northridge 23-14 Friday at Heardmont Park.
The Eagles took advantage of a blocked punt to set up one touchdown, a high snap on another punt that resulted in a fumble to set up another score and another high snap for a safety.
Eagles senior running back Trey Vassell ran for 108 yards and two touchdowns on runs of 1 and 4 yards. Senior running back Davion Foster scored Oak Mountain’s other touchdown on a 27-yard run.