The Tigers did so without four players who were named starters in the preseason, all of whom were out with injury.
It’s a battle Cleburne County has been fighting all season, beginning in the second quarter of their 21-17 loss at Anniston in Week 2. First, senior Brayden Walker went down with a high ankle that greatly limited his ability and forced him out of action against the Warriors. Three plays later, 5-foot-11, 237-pound full back and reserve linebacker Chris Ervin tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). He’s out for the season.
Lucas Carter and Nick Wallace were also out.
Shortt’s squad has also overcame injuries to Dylan Jones, who was expected to play a lot on the defensive line before a staph infection in his knee claimed his junior season. Tate Bell started in their 28-27 win against Lineville at home in Week 1 but a knee injury kept him out until their Week 4 matchup at St. Clair County.
Shortt said most teams are dinged up this time of year. His squad has just been unfortunate that its top players have been the ones getting injured, he said. He added that the valiant efforts of players such as Tanner Howle and Blake Turner, who have filled in in the backfield for Walker and Ervin, with the keeping the team’s head above water.
“We’ve been surviving,” Shortt said.
“I have to give a lot of credit to my coaching staff. We wanted to be a run-oriented team but a lot of that kind of went out the door. We’ve been forced to do some things, that we’ve done before but these kids haven’t done them. We’ve been able to score some points but we’re kind of like Auburn, we can’t score too soon. Passing puts points on the board but it doesn’t run the clock down.”
Shortt said he could have some of his players back Friday when his team entertains rival Alexandria at L.E. Bell Field but listed their statuses as day-to-day.
The Valley Cubs have won back-to-back games on the road against Jacksonville and Boaz after beginning their season 0-3.
• OXFORD CROSS COUNTY: Both Oxford’s girls and boys cross country teams finished third in the team standings among 22 squads that participated in the Spain Park Invitational in Hoover.
Alec Young finished third overall in the boys competition with a time of 18:40 Jacoby Dove’s time of 18:57 was good enough for a top 10 spot, placing sixth.
Jacob Schwyn (19:10), Landon Delozier (19:18) and Dakota Beane (20:01) rounded out Oxford’s fastest finishers.
Ryan (21:07) and Cori (22:14) placed sixth and eighth in the girls race. Ever Naughler (25:22), Katie Flynn (25:28) and Kylee Delozier (25:36) were among the Lady Yellow Jackets’ top 5.
The Yellow Jackets will participate in the Jesse Owes Classic in Oakville Saturday.
Nick Birdsong covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 235-3575. Follow him on Twitter @birds_word.