Preview: Briarwood vs. John Carroll

Briarwood Christian (1-1) is riding a wave of momentum after barely squeaking out a win versus Shelby County last week. The Lions ranked 16th in the state in 5A football by ASWA, and 6th in the Coaches' Poll, prepare to host a gritty John Carroll ball club Friday night.

Quarterback Paul Barber is the leader of the Briarwood Christian offense. Last week, he led the Lions in the option attack by making good decisions.

The 6-2, 180 pound senior signal caller who is steadily gaining attention from local programs such as UAB and Samford, is a pocket passer with the talent to break the pocket.

In the game vs Shelby County, Barber displayed not only his passing capabilities by putting up 212 yards on 13-of-22 passing, but got loose in the open field and ripped off a 30-yard TD scamper that changed the landscape of the game for Briarwood Christian.

A lot of Barber's success stems from not only having an accomplished arm, but a talented receiving corps around him that consists of future Southern Miss receiver Zeke Walters, and Barber's favorite target Caleb Castille.

Castille is a 5-10, 175 pound senior receiver, who is dangerously speedy and has decent hands. Among those looking at Castille are Alabama, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Louisiana Tech, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.

Alabama fans are hoping the Tide can reel in all of the Castille family, as Caleb is the youngest of the three brothers. Jeremiah (Caleb's father), Tim and Simeon all played for the Crimson Tide, but the latest Castille is leaning toward Auburn as his college of choice.

Walters is a 6-4, 230 pound tight end/linebacker who can seal the edge, make tough grabs in traffic and also a force on the defensive side of the football.

The Lions allowed only six points in the contest, and held Shelby County to only 13 first downs in large part due to the play of Justin Shade and the rest of the Lion defense.

The 5-foot-11, 200 pound senior is on the radar for Alabama, Auburn, UAB, and Vanderbilt. After a junior campaign that included 133 solo tackles for Shade, and his performance against Shelby County, coaches at Briarwood Christian believe that this list will steadily get longer as the season goes on. More coaches will begin to hear about Shade, and he shows more of what he can do on the defensive side of the ball.

Coming off wins at Pinson Valley and Chelsea High School, the John Carroll Catholic Cavaliers come into this contest undefeated and unranked, 2-0 for the first time since 1999.

However this season, the Cavaliers are doing it with young talent such as junior running back Adric Merchant averaging 136 yards per game and a first year quarterback in Chris Bunio.

Last season the Lions rolled over the Cavaliers 28-7. John Carroll is looking to make a statement as serious contenders. The Cavaliers are the clear underdogs in this contest, but if they can control the clock they could walk away with this one.

Prediction: Briarwood Christian 28, John Carroll 14

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