The Panthers received a win from Clay-Chalkville, which played an ineligible player when the teams squared off in Week 7. The Cougars were ranked No. 1 in the ASWA 6A poll on Wednesday.
The forfeit of nine victories shakes up the Class 6A Region 7 standings, as Oxford moves to the top spot and Gadsden City claims the fourth and final position.
The Panthers finished fifth in the region.
“It is disappointing,” Pell City head coach David Shores said. “We are one minute away in a drive in the Trussville game — if we get them stopped we are in. And we were six turnovers away from beating Gadsden City. Either one of those, if you take our turnovers away or take that one minute away we get into the playoffs. It is frustrating. Clay had a great football team this year. I don’t know, which player they are talking about being ineligible but if you take one or two kids out of that mix they are still a really good football team. I know coach Hood and their staff I am sure it wasn’t anything intentional. I hate it for them, because they were set to make a run without a doubt.”
The Panthers (6-3) upset region foe Austin last week 42-38 on a last-second touchdown reception from Austin Martin to Justin Morgan. Shores said the momentum from last week’s win has carried over into practice this week.
“We’ve had a good week,” Shores said. “I think the kids are excited about the win last Friday and the way we were able to finish. It shows a lot of improvement from the week we lost to Trussville back in Week 4 to Week 9 where we were able to finish and hold them on defense, so the offense could get the ball back and score. I am very proud of the success that we have had. Our initial goal was to try to make the playoffs, but more than taht was to become a competitive football team again and play for four quarters. I think we have done that every week, we have had a chance in every game that we have played and we never quite. That says a lot about the character of our kids and where our program is heading I think.”
The Blue Devils enter tonight’s match looking for a little payback. Last season the Panthers scored 35 unanswered points to defeat Etowah 35-14.
“They are a very scary team,” Shores said. “They are sitting at 8-1 right now, they have a forfeit back from J.O. Johnson and they are nine points from being undefeated in the two games they lost on the field. They are solid, they are big and they are physical. Pell City beat them last year and the quarterback got hurt in the first quarter on a punt. We are going to have to play really solid in the first half of the game and hopefully can pull away because of our numbers in the second half.”
Even if the Panthers lose tonight, the senior class is already guaranteed a winning record on the field, something that hasn’t been accomplished since the 2006 season.
“I think they want to finish the season the way we started it,” Shores said. “We have been talking about that for two weeks. We started with a positive, winning attitude and on a high note. We want to finish that way. This is the first chance these kids have had to have a winning season in five years, so that means a lot. Their attitude and work ethic hasn’t changed. They come to work every day and prepared. They have been positive every day regardless of the playoff situation.”
Kick off is set for 7 p.m. from Jim Glover Field in Attalla.