By Lee Davis
Journal Sports Writer
Mountain Brook entered its game against Homewood Sept. 16 as a team on the cusp of being very good.
The Spartans had sandwiched impressive wins over Shades Valley and Pelham around a hard-fought 17-13 loss to Vestavia Hills.
Coach Chris Yeager’s offense had shown flashes of brilliance in its two victories, while his defense appeared to be among Metro Birmingham’s most solid. By any measure, Mountain Brook looked well on its way to atoning for last season’s disappointing 4-6 record.
But even those promising signs couldn’t prepare anyone for what the Spartans would do to the visiting Patriots.
Mountain Brook pounded out more than 500 yards of total offense to roll to a 42-7 third quarter advantage on the way to a 49-21 victory.
As impressive as the offense was, however, Yeager insisted that the Spartan defense was the key.
“Homewood has some of the best offensive talent in the state,” he said. “You can’t contain them man to man.
“You have to have 11 people sprinting to the ball on every play. If you can neutralize Homewood’s big play guys, you’ve got a chance to win.”
The Spartan offense also worked to take Homewood out of its game. By moving to the huge early lead, Mountain Brook forced the Patriots to throw the ball early and often, and largely took Homewood’s ace running back, Ameer Abdullah, out of the equation. Abdullah finished with 86 yards on 19 carries.
Mountain Brook seized the momentum almost immediately, driving to a touchdown on its first possession. Mark Rector’s five-yard score with 7:42 to go in the first period gave the Spartans a 6-0 lead. Warren Handrahan added the extra point.
On its next possession, Mountain Brook struck again. Edward Aldag’s 29-yard scoring strike to John McCrary pushed the Spartans ahead 14-0 with 3:45 remaining in the quarter.
The onslaught continued in the second stanza. Rector’s two-yard touchdown run raised Mountain Brook’s advantage to 21-0 with 6:32 left in the first half.
Homewood began to show signs of life when quarterback Stephen Baggett ran 19 yards for a score with 3:09 remaining in the half. Bernard Holman’s conversion cut the gap to 21-7.
With lightning-like speed, however, the Spartans broke the game open on their next two possessions. Rector raced 80 yards for a touchdown with 2:54 left, raising the margin to 28-7. Then, with one play left in the half, Aldag connected with John Beck for a 34-yard touchdown bomb as the buzzer sounded, and Mountain Brook went to the locker room with a 35-7 lead.
Any chances of a Homewood comeback were probably dashed on the first play of the second half, when the Spartans’ Walker Cox took the kickoff and raced 94 yards for a touchdown, pushing the hosts ahead 42-7.
Homewood rallied for two consolation touchdowns. The first came on Baggett’s 50-yard pass to Aaron Ernest. The final score came on Kenneth Thompson’s five-yard run with 1:42 left in the game.
Aldag completed 14 of 18 passes for 236 yards. Baggett completed 18 of 32 passes for 195 yards.
Mountain Brook improved its record to 3-1 overall and 2-1 in Class 6A Region 6 play. Homewood dropped to 2-2 overall and 1-2 in Region 6 play.
After the win over the Patriots, Spartan fans had every reason to be excited about their team’s prospects for the rest of the season. Barring an upset, Mountain Brook has an excellent chance to go into its Oct. 22 game against Hoover with just one loss.
“All we’re thinking about now is our next opponent (Grissom of Huntsville),” said Yeager.
That’s understandable. But with the way the Spartans are playing right now, a lot of people are going to be thinking about them.
week four highlights
Hoover 50, Thompson 0
The Bucs earned their fourth consecutive shutout in winning over the Warriors. Hoover has outscored its opponents this season by a whopping margin of 168-0.
Justin McArthur rushed for 105 yards and four touchdowns. His scoring runs came on dashes of six, six, 23 and 34 yards.
Hoover defensive back Montez Carlton intercepted two Thompson passes and returned them for touchdowns.
Jason Jones also scored for the winners.
Vestavia Hills 38, Pelham 23
The Rebels exploded for 35 first half points to take an easy win over the Panthers. Vestavia running back Georgie Salem gained 132 yards on six carries in the first half, including touchdown runs of 48 and 63 yards. Salem also returned a kickoff 93 yards for a score.
Stuart Jacobs also scored on a one-yard run for Vestavia. Rebel quarterback Patrick Prewitt connected with Neil Gannaway on a 65-yard touchdown strike.
Ryan Raspino kicked five extra points and a 37-yard field goal, as Vestavia ran its record to 4-0, 3-0 in Class 6A Region 6 play.
Spain Park 21, Oak Mountain 7
The Jags ran their record to 2-2 with a win over the Eagles. Oak Mountain scored first on Heath Quinn’s 50-yard touchdown pass to Rico Dunn.
Kevron McMillan’s eight-yard touchdown for Spain Park tied the game 7-7 at halftime.
Steven Silivo’s one-yard touchdown run in the third quarter gave the Jaguars a 14-7 lead at the end of the third quarter.
McMillan also scored on a 21-yard run to cap Spain Park’s scoring.
The Eagles dropped to 0-4 for the season.
Briarwood 41, Chelsea 6
The Lions remained undefeated with an easy win over the Hornets. Briarwood quarterback Ben Craft ran for three touchdowns and passed for one to lead the winning attack. Cannon Smith caught the scoring toss from Craft.
Matthew Furuto scored on a one-yard run for the Lions. Chad Davis capped the scoring for Briarwood by intercepting a Chelsea pass and returning it 28 yards for a touchdown.
John Carroll Catholic 24, Parker 0
The Cavs returned to the winning track with a shutout of the Thundering Herd.
Johnny Boohaker’s 22-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Hullum put Carroll ahead 6-0. Michael Cowan’s run added a two-point conversion.
Marcus Richardson’s one-yard touchdown run in the second quarter gave the Cavs a 15-0 lead. On the ensuing kickoff, Carroll earned a safety, raising its total to 17-0.
The Cavs’ final touchdown came on a 67-yard run by Wes Dismuke.
John Carroll raised its record to 2-2 for the season.
Maplesville 61, Shades Mountain 0
The Eagles suffered their fourth straight defeat.
Vestavia running back Georgie Salem ran for 140 yards on nine carries in the Rebels’ win over Pelham. Salem, a junior, scored touchdowns of 48 and 63 yards and also returned a kickoff 93 yards for another score.
Hoover defensive back Montez Carlton returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the Bucs’ 50-0 rout of Thompson.
Hoover running back Justin McArthur gained 105 yards on nine carries for four touchdowns in the Bucs’ win over the Warriors.
Mountain Brook running back Mark Rector ran for 127 yards on nine carries, including an 80-yard touchdown, as the Spartans scored a surprising 49-21 over Homewood.
Mountain Brook quarterback Ed Aldag completed 14 of 18 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns in the Spartans’ win over Homewood.
Spain Park quarterback Nick Mullens passed for 221 yards in the Jaguars’ 21-7 victory over Oak Mountain.
Spain Park receiver Reid Rangel caught eight passes for 92 yards in the win over the Eagles.