Patriots pounce on Pelham for region title


Quarterback Woods Ray (#13) flips football into the endzone, after rushing for a 55 yard touchdown vs Pelham on 10/14/22. (Photo by Henry Sklar)

Henry Sklar, Sports Editor

In the waning days of the off-season, Coach Ben Berguson said that the experience returning on Homewood’s (6-2, 4-0, 1st in 6A R3) defense was “valuable.” Two months later, that same defense shut out the Pelham Panthers (4-4, 3-2, 4th in 6A R3) on the way to their first regional championship since 2017. 

“I’m really proud of the way this defense performed and how hard they’ve worked,” Berguson said post-game. “Pitching a shut-out like this is awesome.” 

Not only was the defense stout, but the offense played great complementary football, courtesy of quarterback Woods Ray.

The game started with an array of punts for each side, but as the first quarter wound down, Ray capped off an eight-play drive by powering into the end zone, giving the Patriots the first points of the night.

When it seemed like the Patriots would quickly strike again, Pelham cornerback Jamal Miles intercepted a pass with one hand, returning the ball to the Panthers.

The Patriot defense again held back Pelham’s offense and forced a punt. With the help of some penalties, along with 66 yards thrown by Ray, running back Mondrell Odell punched into the endzone from five yards out. Homewood linebacker Rigdon Gibbons intercepted Pelham quarterback Clayton Mains on the final play of the first half but was corralled before he could break off a big return.

Pelham was able to finally muster some offense early in the third quarter, but the Patriot defense held out, turning the Panthers over on the Homewood 32-yard line on downs.

On the ensuing Patriot drive, Ray provided another signature moment of the season. Ray broke multiple Panther defender tackles on a read option, bringing the ball 55 yards to the endzone and extending the Homewood lead to 21-0.

Defensive back Clay Burdeshaw got an interception, giving the ball back to the Patriots. Running back Calyb Colbert scored two minutes into the final quarter of play. 

Homewood then ran down the clock, capping off a marquee win over the Panthers.

With the regional championship, the Patriots will likely host McAdory on Nov. 5 in Homewood’s playoff game. 

The Patriots host Briarwood on Friday, Oct. 21 at 7 p.m.