Top Seed in Playoffs Likely Awaits Golden Lions
By: Anthony Perkins
Belmont – Shelby’s Golden Lions dispatched a pesky Red Raider team from South Point on Friday evening by a 49-21 final score and secured the top spot in the Southwestern 2A conference with a perfect 6-0 conference record. Shelby will also be one of the top seeded teams going into the state championship playoffs that will begin next week and they will likely be favored to repeat as state champions.
The final score belies the difficulty the Golden Lions had in gaining another conference championship against a determined South Point team that had nothing to lose going into the game.
Shelby jumped out to a quick lead on a ten-yard run by Omar Phillips and a 59-yard pass reception by Ja’hari Mitchell to complete their first two possessions in the opening quarter and it looked like it might be over quickly.
At the beginning of the second quarter South Point’s offense came to life when Omari Hunt caught the right edge on a sweep play and went sixty-six yards to the house cutting the lead in half. The Golden Lions did answer on their next possession when Isaiah Bess connected with Mitchell again for a 15-yard scoring strike to push the lead to 21-7. Not to be outdone, the Red Raiders answered on their following possession with a two-play drive that was capped off with a 51-yard run up the gut by wingback Devon King. With only five minutes left in the half it was “game-on” with the Red Raiders trailing by only one score at 21-14. Momentarily, it looked like it might be the night for a big upset in the Southwestern Conference because on the ensuing kick-off the Red Raiders executed a pooch kick to perfection when the Golden Lions tried to return the kick but a perfectly timed hit to the receiver resulted in a fumble which Peyton Chaney fell on to put the Red Raiders back in business at the Shelby 33.
Any hope the Red Raider’s may have had to tie the game before the half quickly disappeared as they fumbled the ball back to Shelby on the very next play after a bad pitch on an option toss.
True to form, the Golden Lions came out in the second half and posted two additional touchdowns in the third quarter. A ten-yard run by Phillips and a three-yard run by Donye Fuller pushed the lead to 35-14 and at the same time the Golden Lion defense kept the Red Raider offense off the scoreboard.
South Point added their final points mid-way into the final quarter and Shelby added two – Oh, by the way – scores for the final margin of 49-21. One of those scores came on a twelve-yard run by Mitchell (his third score for the game) and the final one came on a 38-yard run by Phillips (his third score of the game also).
Shelby finished up with 421 yards of total offense: 194 yards rushing and 227 yards passing. Isaiah Bess completed 10 of 22 passes and had no interceptions. Donye Fuller (94 yards on 13 carries) and Omar Phillips (94 yards on 9 carries) hauled most of the mail for the Golden Lions. Ja’hari Mitchell was the quarterbacks favorite target for the contest with six catches for 155 yards.
South Point fullback Naseem Jones did most of the work for the Red Raiders on the ground game with 17 carries for 45 yards but Omari Hunt was the most productive with 75 yards on three carries. Quarterback Will Rhinehart completed three of ten passes for 54 yards with Devon King gathering in two of his tosses for 43 yards and Alex Campbell caught the other pass for eleven yards.
Shelby will be at home next week for the first round of the 2A playoffs and South Point will be anxiously awaiting the playoff brackets on Saturday to see if they are made the field.