HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL • WEEK EIGHT PREVIEW

Huge games for playoff-bound teams


With wins last week, three Blount County teams (Appalachian, Oneonta, and Susan Moore) all but wrapped up playoff spots and will now look to improve or hang onto their seeding.

All three could host a playoff game. Appalachian and Susan Moore are hoping to be part of a three-way tie atop the region while Oneonta is looking to hold on for second place.

Cleveland and J.B. Pennington still have a mathematical shot at the playoffs but need to win out to have a chance.

As always, all games kick off at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14

Appalachian (5-2, 4-1 in 1A Region 5) at Parkway Christian (1-6, 1-4)


Last year – Appalachian 54, Parkway Chr. 0

All-time – Appalachian leads the series 1-0


Appalachian 31, Spring Garden 14
Appalachian 42, Jacksonville Chr. 13
Appalachian 30, Coosa Chr. 6
Appalachian 53, St. Bernard 6
Westbrook Chr. 32, Appalachian 6
Victory Chr. 27, Appalachian 23
Appalachian 67, Jefferson Chr. 6

Shades Mtn. Chr. 29, Parkway Chr. 0
Coosa Christian 53, Parkway Chr. 0
Parkway Chr. 32, St. Bernard 8
Ragland 21, Parkway Chr. 0
Gaylesville 41, Parkway Chr. 6
Jacksonville Chr. 42, Parkway Chr. 8
Victory Chr. 42, Parkway Chr. 6

Eagles look to cement home playoff game.

Appalachian drilled region also-ran Jefferson Christian last week and might get a little bit more of a challenge this week. The Eagles need to get off to another good start – hard to fault last week’s 27-0 lead at the end of the first quarter – and that means the defense needs to be ready for a Parkway offense that might try almost anything. Appalachian has a pair of big games remaining on the schedule and is still in contention to win the region. However, a loss at this point could leave the Eagles as the No. 3 seed for the playoffs and a road trip.

Parkway Christian is still trying to get competitive with the better teams in Region 5 and a look at the scores above shows that the Wildcats are not there yet. The Wildcats do possess some talent at the skill positions but teams with solid play on the offensive and defensive lines have proven too much for the stilldeveloping program to handle. The Wildcats have been blown out by Coosa and Victory Christian – teams that can run and throw just like Appalachian. Parkway has nothing to lose at this point and you can bet that the playbook will be wide open this week.

Next week – Appalachian returns home to host rival
Ragland; Parkway hosts Jefferson Christian.

Falkville (1-6, 1-4 in 2A Region 7) at Cleveland (3-4, 2-3)


Last year – Falkville 19, Cleveland 0

All-time – Cleveland leads the series 6-3


Priceville 36, Falkville 34
Addison 27, Falkville 6
Falkville 21, Oakman 20
Winston Co. 27, Falkville 0
Vinemont 35, Falkville 6
Lamar County 43, Falkville 0
Sulligent 45, Falkville 8

Locust Fork 15, Cleveland 14
Sulligent 35, Cleveland 12
Lamar Co. 48, Cleveland 30
Cleveland 42, Cold Springs 0
Cleveland 21, J.B. Pennington 20
Cleveland 41, Oakman 19
Winston Co. 35, Cleveland 7

Panther playoff hopes are on life-support.

Falkville has shown promise this year, but for whatever reason the Blue Devils have not been able to put it together. The Blue Devils played a couple of the better region teams (Addison, Winston County) close but were blown off the field by Lamar County’s physical offensive and defensive lines. The Blue Devils have some quickness at the skill positions but depth has been an issue up front throughout the year and injuries have hit the big bodies in the second half of the season. The Falkville offense has been almost non-existent since a 21-20 win over Oakman in week 3. The Blue Devil defense had been decent but was run over the last three weeks against the best offenses it has seen. It will be a short work week for the Blue Devils. Because of the threat of storms and a water-soaked field, Falkville and Sulligent met Monday night and it wasn’t much of a game as the speed of Sulligent was too much – even on a muddy track.

Cleveland came out strong last week but then faded and now is in a battle for playoff consideration. A win this week and next (at Addison) should be enough but neither will be easy. Falkville and Cleveland were in the same position last year and the Panthers were splattered on the road. The Panthers’ three-game winning streak came to an end last week at the hands of one of the best teams in the region (and maybe, the state) but Cleveland needs to get back up this week and play with emotion. Falkville has struggled on defense this year and that means that the Panther offense needs to get off to a good start. The Cornelius-to-Cornelius connection has been huge this year for the Panthers and should be again this week. The Cleveland defense will face a Falkville offense that has some talent but can’t seem to quit making mistakes. Cleveland must make sure that this is not the week that Falkville puts everything together.

Next week – Falkville hosts Cold Springs; Cleveland
travels to Addison.

Hayden (1-6, 1-5 in 5A Region 6) at Erwin (5-2, 4-2)


Last year – Erwin 28, Hayden 0

All-time – Erwin leads the series 3-0


Cullman 42, Hayden 19
Haleyville 21, Hayden 7
Hayden 20, Brewer 14
Walker 48, Hayden 7
Pleasant Grove 49, Hayden 0
Curry 27, Hayden 8
Mortimer Jordan 38, Hayden 12

Pleasant Grove 20, Erwin 6
Erwin 28, Curry 21
Erwin 30, Mortimer Jordan 28
Erwin 28, Brewer 8
Erwin 30, Springville 20
Cullman 42, Erwin 16
Erwin 30, Carver-Bham. 27

Tough trip to Center Point for struggling Wildcats.

Last week’s tough loss to rival Mortimer Jordan was a perfect illustration of the Wildcats’ season so far. The Hayden defense got off to a good start against the Blue Devils but after the offense gave up an interception return for a touchdown, the Wildcats were forced to play from behind. Hayden went on to commit five turnovers and that simply cannot happen against good teams and you can believe that Erwin is a good team. Hayden has to have a good night by the offense to have a chance to upset the Eagles and that means the Wildcat offense must run the ball successfully and stay away from turnovers. The Wildcat defense will face an Erwin offense with plenty of speed and quickness in the skill positions and good size across both lines.

Erwin seems to be the forgotten team in Region 6 but a win this week and next (at Walker) could mean a No. 2 seed and a home game for the playoffs. The Eagles lost a lot of talent from last year’s team that finished 6-4 overall and just missed out on the playoffs. However, this year’s Eagles are a very young but also very explosive and talented group. Head coach Willie Miller also has a disciplined group that will play physical football each week. The Eagle defense has been pushed around some but has done enough most weeks to get the win by forcing turnovers and making big plays. Only Cullman and Pleasant Grove have been able to contain the dangerous skill players of the Eagles. Special teams have been a concern but there is nothing wrong with the Erwin return units.

Next week – Hayden hosts Springville; Erwin travels to
Walker.

No. 2 Cherokee Co. (7-0, 5-0 in 4A Region 6) at Locust Fork (3-4, 1-4)


Last year – Cherokee Co. 38, Locust Fork 7

All-time – Cherokee Co. leads the series 1-0


Cherokee Co. 42, Piedmont 13
Cherokee Co. 36, Alexandria 25
Cherokee Co. 49, Hokes Bluff 21
Cherokee Co. 42, Oneonta 14
Cherokee Co. 52, Cleburne Co. 14
Cherokee Co. 50, St. Clair Co. 7
Cherokee Co. 24, Jacksonville 12

Locust Fork 15, Cleveland 14
Hokes Bluff 49, Locust Fork 14
Oneonta 45, Locust Fork 13
Locust Fork 26, Ashville 0
Locust Fork 15, Corner 13
Alexandria 35, Locust Fork 7
St. Clair Co. 26, Locust Fork 0

Hornets battle one of the best 4A programs in the state.

Cherokee County played for the 4A title last year and is probably a better team this year. The Warriors are explosive offensively under the direction of senior quarterback Coty Blanchard (6’1, 185), who is a superb high school athlete. He can make plays and provides outstanding leadership. RB D.J. Fife (6’0, 150 Sr.) and WR Gabriel Chambers (5’10, 165 Sr.) supply the speed and can score from anywhere. The Warrior offensive line is deep and experienced with good size. The Cherokee County defense has given up some plays at times but this is a group that has the ability to dominate the line of scrimmage. The Warrior kicking game is solid in every phase and Fife and Chambers each have multiple touchdown returns on the season.

Locust Fork got a solid effort last week in a game that was much closer than the final score would indicates. The Hornet defense has kept the team in several games and this group will face the best offense it has seen all year this week. Locust Fork must get turnovers from Cherokee County to have a chance. Chambers and Fife are capable of scoring on every snap so the Hornets must be sure tacklers this week. The Hornet offense really struggled last week with a couple of players not even making the trip to Odenville because of the flu. A return to health would be nice for a Locust Fork team that will need to have every weapon available. Locust Fork did a good job of controlling the ball and shortening the game in the first half last week and the same style will be needed this week.

Next week – Cherokee Co. hosts
Ashville; Locust Fork gets a visit from
Jacksonville.

Alexandria (4-3, 3-2 in 4A Region 6) at No. 9 Oneonta (6-1, 4-1) HC

Last year – Oneonta 27, Alexandria 21;

Oneonta 34, Alexandria 33 OT
All-time – Oneonta leads the series 4-2

Anniston 14, Alexandria 13
Cher. Co. 36, Alexandria 25
Alexandria 42, St. Cl. Co. 14
Jackson. 21, Alexand. 20 OT
Alexandria 21, W. Well. 0
Alexandria 35, L. Fork 7
Alexandria 42, Ashville 6

Oneonta 34, Arab 33
Oneonta 52, Jacksonville 0
Oneonta 45, Locust Fork 13
Cher. Co. 49, Oneonta 14
Oneonta 28, S. Moore 21
Oneonta 46, Ashville 7
Oneonta 21, Hokes Bluff 12

Playoff implications galore in this one.

Alexandria was stumbling along at just 1-3 after a shocking overtime home loss to Jacksonville but the Valley Cubs have returned to playing physical football and have reeled off three wins in a row. Frank Tucker was forced to replace several key players from last year’s squad but he seems to have found the right combination now. RB Jaron Johnson (6’1, 183 Sr.) has developed into a serious threat and he operates behind a physical offensive line and FB Reggie Patterson (6’1, 212 Sr.). The Cubs have a threat at receiver with Hunter Kelly (6’0, 164 Sr.) but this is a team that needs to run to be successful. The Alexandria defense has struggled against stronger running games (Cherokee County, Jacksonville) but this unit has played much better over the second half of the season. Valley Cub special teams are usually solid. The Valley Cubs are not your typical homecoming opponent.

The Redskins battled illness, injuries, and the elements last week and seemingly had the deck stacked against them after falling behind 12-0 last week. However, Oneonta put all that aside and came back to beat a Hokes Bluff team that is as tough as they come. Oneonta will have to play well this week. Alexandria has moved the ball on every defense they have played and the Valley Cubs have quit making the mistakes that were killing them early in the year. The Oneonta defense will face an offense that prides itself on lining up and running the football down the opposition’s throat. Oneonta looked better last week, especially in the second half, but the downfield passing game will probably be needed this week against an opponent that will look to flood the box and stop the run.

Next week – Alexandria goes to Hokes
Bluff; Oneonta travels to Odenville to face
St. Clair Co.

J.B. Pennington (2-5, 2-3 in Region 7) at Hamilton (6-1, 5-0)

Last year – Hamilton 33,

J.B. Pennington 0 All-time – Hamilton leads the series 3-2

S. Moore 29, J.B. Penn. 0
J.B. Penn. 34, Carbon Hill 8
Winfield 34, J.B. Penn. 0
Hanceville 39, J.B. Penn. 13
Cleveland 21, J.B. Penn. 20
J.B. Penn. 21, Good Hope 14
Vinemont 40, J.B. Penn. 20

Hamilton 40, Sull. 38
Hamilton 54, Good Hope 40
Hamilton 33, Hanceville 6
Hamilton 32, Winfield 6
Haleyville 24, Hamilton 21
Hamilton 41, C. Hill 18
Hamilton 44, Danville 14

Faint Tiger playoff hopes would get a huge boost with win over region frontrunner.

Pennington played good football for three quarters last week but ran out of gas late. Now, the Tigers get the best team in the region on the road. Pennington needs to run the ball and keep the dangerous Hamilton offense off the field. Wesley Stephens is not the biggest back around but he has been a consistent threat and will be called on this week to grind out the tough yards. The Tiger offensive line will need to have a strong night. The Pennington defense will face a Hamilton offense that has put up big numbers on every defense it has seen in Region 7. Hamilton has not been slowed down at all in the region. The Tigers will face one of the bigger offensive fronts in the region (avg. 235 lbs.) and this is a group that has been tough to handle. Pennington must play well on the defensive front.

Hamilton lost a lot from last year’s team that finished 12-1 and advanced to the quarterfinals. However, Rodney Stidham’s Aggies have reloaded nicely and are far and away the most complete team in the region. It’s hard to find a weakness on the Aggies. They were forced to win a couple of shootouts early in the year but the defense has come together and played much better football over the last few weeks. The Aggie offense has been explosive with only 4A rival Haleyville able to control a unit that can run and throw with equal effectiveness. The offensive line is big and physical and several new skill players have come on to make plays. Hamilton is very good on special teams.

Next week – J.B. Pennington hosts
Danville; Hamilton entertains Vinemont.

Susan Moore (5-2, 4-1 in 3A Region 6) at Sardis (6-1, 5-0)

Last year – Susan Moore 8, Sardis 6

All-time – Susan Moore leads

the series 16-10-1

Susan Moore 29, J.B. Penn. 0
S. Moore 47, Holly Pond 15
Pisgah 22, Susan Moore 21
S. Moore 28, New Hope 0
Oneonta 28, S. Moore 21
Susan Moore 34, Sylvania 27
S. Moore 40, Brind. Mtn. 7

Gaston 39, Sardis 29
Sardis 28, New Hope 26
Sardis 34, Sylvania 19
Sardis 42, Holly Pond 0
Sardis 34, West End 7
Sardis 34, Brindlee Mtn. 6
Sardis 14, Crossville 7

The winner can think about hosting a first round playoff game.

Susan Moore did what it needed to do last week – dominate from the opening kick against one of the region’s weaker teams. That is not the case this week. The Bulldogs will face a Sardis team that has won six in a row and is hoping for a region championship. Susan Moore must get a good night on defense. Sardis struggled on a sloppy field Saturday night at Crossville but the Lions have been very good on offense this year. The Bulldog defensive front will face a Sardis offensive line that has some size (avg. 215 lbs.) and the linemen will need to get penetration against an offense that can run and throw. The Susan Moore offense will face a Sardis defense that struggled early but has given up just 20 points over the last four weeks. Keep in mind, Susan Moore has run the ball well of late and Sardis hasn’t faced a physical running game in a few weeks.

Chris Garmon’s Lions are tied with Pisgah atop the division but can’t get caught looking ahead to next week’s big game in Jackson County. The Lions were tested Saturday night by Crossville but overcame a sloppy field and a gritty effort from Crossville to get the win. The Lion offense is led by the coach’s son – senior QB Kyle Garmon (5’9, 170). He is a very good athlete who can beat a defense with his arm or his legs. He has lots of weapons around him in the skill spots. The Lion offensive and defensive fronts are not huge – the roster lists only two players over 200 lbs. – but these units have played very well throughout the year. The running games of Gaston and New Hope gave the Lion defense serious problems over the first two weeks of the year but teams have struggled to move the ball since then. Susan Moore needs to balance the attack this week and that means getting the running game going early before turning Justin Hawkins and the passing game loose.

Next week – Susan Moore travels to
Crossville; Sardis goes to Pisgah.