Non-region for some but not all



Week five of the high school football season is traditionally a non-region week and that’s true this week for all but two of the Blount County schools.

J.B. Pennington and Susan Moore are in 3A Region 6 which is a nine-team region and that means those schools will have one fewer non-region game. This week, the Tigers travel to Saks while the Bulldogs will journey to Hokes Bluff.

Cleveland is also in a nine-team region (2A Region 7) but the Panthers drew week 5 for non-region and will welcome DAR to Michael E. Dixon Memorial Stadium.

In other games, Appalachian gets a tough trip to west Alabama to face a very solid Berry team, Locust Fork travels to Corner, and Oneonta visits Hayden.

All games will kick off at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25
1A Appalachian (4-0) at Berry (3-1)
All-time – This will be the first meeting

Appalachian 27, J.B. Pennington 21
Appalachian 45, Jacks. Christian 14
Appalachian 20, Coosa Christian 0
Appalachian 41, Akron 6
Berry 38, Northside 30
Lynn 33, Berry 6
Berry 22, Parrish 21
Berry 46, Meek 14

Appalachian head coach Ernie Willingham makes his point.

Appalachian head coach Ernie Willingham makes his point.

The Eagles get a tough non-region trip to Fayette County for a solid 1A opponent in a measuring-stick game.

Berry is a very solid 1A team that would probably be one of the favorites (along with Appalachian and Ragland) if they were placed in Region 6. Danny Raines is in his eighth year as head coach of the Wildcats and he led them to a 10-2 record a year ago and a schoolrecord 491 points on the year. The Wildcats are an explosive offensive team led by junior quarterback Jacob Kennedy (5’9, 155) and freshman tailback Terrance “Tank” Hollingsworth (5’8, 190). Kennedy is a dual-threat quarterback who can turn broken plays into positive yardage and Hollingsworth is a physical, downhill runner with speed. Kennedy almost singlehandedly beat Parrish as he rushed for 177 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries. The Berry offensive and defensive lines have good size (avg. 220 lbs.) and there is good depth across both units. The Berry defense has been solid, although Lynn’s ground-andpound offense hammered the Wildcats all night long and Northside’s passing game was effective, as well. Berry special teams have been solid.



Appalachian barely broke a sweat during last week’s mugging of Akron. The Eagles jumped out to a big lead early and then was able to play some younger folks. Don’t expect that to be the case this week. Berry might be the best team Appalachian has seen this year – the Wildcats are probably on par with J.B. Pennington. The Eagles will need to get more efficient on offense. The Eagles have not had trouble gaining yards but putting up points has been an issue – just look at the Coosa Christian game film for an example. The Eagle running game got a big lift last week from Esgar Covarrubias, who has shown flashes of quickness. Now the passing game and quarterback Cameron Cox need to step it up. Appalachian threw the ball well as a team last week but Cox was just 1 of 4 through the air. Berry will try to stack the line of scrimmage and slow down the Eagle running game so look for Appalachian to go to the air early to try and loosen up the Wildcats. Appalachian needs to have a good night on coverage because Berry has been dangerous in the return game.



Next week – Appalachian returns home to face
Donoho; Berry travels to South Lamar.

4A DAR (0-4) at 2A Cleveland (3-1)
All-time – This will be the first meeting

Columbia 32, DAR 0
Butler 50, DAR 35
North Jackson 66, DAR 0
Fairview 42, DAR 7
Cleveland 41, Oakman 6
Westmin.Christ.42,Cleveland 41 (2 OT)
Cleveland 66, Falkville 9
Cleveland 31, Fultondale 27

The 4A Patriots might give the 2A Panthers a game. Then again, they might not.

DAR is only in its

The Panthers got the win last week against a dangerous opponent and it wasn’t easy. Fultondale repeatedly made plays against the Cleveland defense and that must be corrected because there are several teams on the schedule that will be at least as dangerous as Fultondale. The Panther defense will face a DAR offense this week that has struggled to move the ball – at least against teams not named Butler. Cleveland must play well on defense against the ground-oriented Patriot offense. The Panther offense struggled early last week but managed to turn things around after the first quarter. While the Panthers rushed for almost 400 yards, the passing game took a big step backward as Chas Cornelius managed to complete just 2 of 10 passes for 35 yards. DAR has had the ball rammed down their throat all year long by 4A offenses but it will be interesting to see if 2A Cleveland is able to do the same.

DAR is still kind of new to football as this is only the fifth season for the Patriot program. However, the Patriots have been more than competitive posting records 2-8, 4-6, 6-4, and 6-4 over the last four years. Unfortunately, this year has been a struggle. The Patriots lost a talented group of seniors from last year’s team and there is lots of youth on both sides of the ball. Better 4A opponents (North Jackson and Fairview) did pretty much anything they wanted to the DAR defense and the Patriot offense has had a tough time – other than defensively-challenged Butler (which is giving up 42 points per game). The DAR offensive and defensive lines have not been able to match up against the better fronts on the schedule. Cleveland will look to establish the run early against the Patriots and then open up the passing game. The DAR offense has some talent. Quarterback/running back Hunter Elkins (5’9, 175 Sr) led the Patriots with 129 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries last week against Fairview.

Next week – DAR travels to Douglas; Cleveland has a
big region game at West End.

Locust Fork (0-4) at Corner (2-2)
Last year – Locust Fork 15, Corner 13
All-time – Locust Fork leads the series 21-13-1

Crossville 24, Locust Fork 10
Jacksonville 36, Locust Fork 26
St. Clair County 21, Locust Fork 2
Oneonta 49, Locust Fork 7
Hayden 37, Corner 14
Corner 23, Good Hope 8
Oak Grove 21, Corner 7
Corner 13, Midfield 12

The Hornets and Yellow Jackets have gone back and forth over the last several years in what has developed into a pretty good rivalry.

For one half last week, the Hornets went toe-to-toe with Oneonta and trailed just 14-7. However, a big defensive stop by the Redskins deep in their own territory seemed to take all the steam out of the Hornets and the Redskins pulled away. This week, the Hornets get a Corner team that has been playing solid football throughout the first half of the season. Locust Fork had some success in the first half last week with the running game, particularly with Tate Dyar and quarterback Sam Estes alternating carries out of the spread look. The Hornets could use more consistency in the passing game to open up the run – the 68-yard touchdown pass from Estes to Clay Smith just before the half showed that the Hornets are capable. The Locust Fork defense will be challenged this week by a Corner offense that is solid but not flashy. The Yellow Jackets have a good offensive line that has played well so far this season. Locust Fork must at least get a stalemate at the line of scrimmage this week to get the win on the road.

Corner is coming off a huge 4A Region 5 win over Midfield. That win keeps the Yellow Jackets in the hunt for a playoff spot with some big region games coming up in the next few weeks (Dora, Fayette County, at Tarrant, at Haleyville). The Yellow Jackets are fundamentally sound in all three phases of the game and last week it was the special teams that came up big in the win over Midfield. Troy Elliott drilled a 22-yard field goal (his third of the night) with 10 seconds left to give the Yellow Jackets the win. The Corner offense has been efficient but far from spectacular. Jordan Shipp (6’0, 170 Sr.) had a 1-yard touchdown run early last week against Midfield and he has been the workhorse for the Yellow Jackets. Shipp started the last two years at quarterback but has also played some at running back this year with the development of sophomore quarterback Blake Byrd (5’10, 170). The Corner offensive and defensive fronts have some size (avg. 225 lbs.) but depth is an issue. The Yellow Jacket defense is a solid bunch. Hayden made some plays in the second and third quarter against Corner and Oak Grove’s powerful running game was able to do the same but this is a tough bunch to move off the ball.

Next week – Big region games for each as Locust Fork
hosts Anniston and Corner welcomes Dora.

4A Oneonta (3-1) at 5A Hayden (2-2)
All-time – Oneonta leads the series 23-5

Oneonta 28, Southside 21
Oneonta 28, Alexandria 27
Springville 41, Oneonta 21
Oneonta 49, Locust Fork 7
Hayden 37, Corner 14
Cullman 21, Hayden 0
Hartselle 48, Hayden 0
Hayden 43, Curry 11

It’s a county rivalry but these teams haven’t met since 2001.

Oneonta rebounded nicely last week after falling flat in the second half the week before at Springville. The Redskins played solid football last week for a half against Locust Fork before putting everything together in the second half. That’s nice but it won’t be good enough this week in west Blount. Hayden is a solid football team that is getting better and Oneonta is a young team that is slowly getting more experience. The Redskin defense must do a better job this week stopping the run. When Hayden struggled to run the ball (Cullman, Hartselle), the Wildcats were not able to make enough plays in the passing game to compete. The Redskins must slow down Issac Veitch to have a chance this week. The Redskin offense wasn’t efficient last week – too many incomplete passes and too many penalties – but the skill players made plays and the offensive line took over the game in the second half. Other than the meltdown at Hartselle, the Wildcat defense has been formidable. Oneonta special teams are solid but the return game looks to be coming on.

Hayden went to Curry last week, got off to a slow start, and then buried the Yellow Jackets. The win sets up the second half of the region schedule for a possible playoff run and should give the rebuilding Wildcats a shot of confidence. Oneonta will present some problems for Hayden, particularly to the Wildcat defense. The Redskin passing game has some weapons. Everyone knows about Alvin Scott but last week Lee Mitchell proved that he can make plays when given the chance. The Wildcats will look to get after Schyler Walker with the pass rush and keep an eye on senior defensive end Rodney Dixon (5’11, 188) who had a pair of sacks last week against Curry. The Yellow Jacket offense is based out of the spread but Steven Kerby wants to run the football. When Hayden runs (Corner, Curry), especially when Issac Veitch gets going, then the field opens up for Corey Ward and the passing game. Oneonta has given up some rushing yards this year so Hayden needs to establish the run early. Wildcat kick coverage could be tested this week.

Next week – Huge home region games for each –
Oneonta hosts St. Clair County and Hayden entertains

J.B. Pennington (0-4 overall, 0-3 in 3A Region 6)
at Saks (3-1 3-1)
All-time – This will be the first meeting

Appalachian 27, J.B. Pennington 21
Glencoe 34, J.B. Pennington 6
Weaver 46, J.B. Pennington 6
Piedmont 48, J.B. Pennington 13
Saks 46, Ashville 14
Saks 17, Hokes Bluff 8
Susan Moore 26, Saks 7
Saks 30, White Plains 13

The Tigers desperately need a win and Saks might be looking ahead.

The Tigers made some plays in the passing game in last week’s second half but it was a case of too little, too late after Piedmont had already built a 34-0 halftime lead. The Bulldogs were a balanced offense and the challenge is different this week against a Saks team that will look to line up and pound the ball at the Tigers. The key this week might be the Tiger offense. If Pennington is able to make some plays early in the passing game – and quarterback Lee Morton has proven he is capable – then the Tiger running game might find some room to operate. The Tigers can then pick up some first downs and keep the Saks offense off the field. If Saks is able to contain the Tigers early and force three-and-outs then the Pennington defense will once again be forced to stay on the field. Pennington has to play well along the line of scrimmage and keep Saks from dominating the game with the run. If the Tigers can make some stops early and get the ball back – much like Susan Moore did – then the Wildcats may have to do more than just run the toss sweep and try to get on the edge.

Saks had trouble running the ball two weeks ago against Susan Moore and the Bulldogs basically dominated the Wildcats on their home field. Saks has to run to win. Period. The Wildcats have a stable of big-play threats, led by Brandon Johnson (5’10, 185 Sr.). He has already gone over the 100-yard mark three times this year and is a threat to score from anywhere on the field. Junior quarterback Cordarius Cooper (5’10, 165) doesn’t throw it much but he can when he has to. The Wildcat offensive and defensive fronts are solid with good size (avg. 235 lbs.). Defensively, the Wildcats have been good – especially against the run. The only team that really did much consistently against Saks was Susan Moore and the Bulldogs’ spread offense caused all kinds of problems for a Saks defense that apparently would rather face a more traditional attack. If Pennington is able to make some plays early through the air then Saks might start thinking back to that game a couple of weeks ago when Susan Moore was able to go to Saks and manhandle the Wildcats.

Next week – Pennington returns home to face Ashville;
Saks has a huge game at Glencoe.

Susan Moore (2-2 overall, 2-2 in 3A Region 6)
at Hokes Bluff (2-2, 1-2)
All-time – Hokes Bluff leads the series 6-2

Weaver 24, Susan Moore 21
Piedmont 26, Susan Moore 23
Susan Moore 26, Saks 7
Susan Moore 51, Ashville 6
Piedmont 29, Hokes Bluff 6
Saks 17, Hokes Bluff 8
Hokes Bluff 36, Ashville 6
Hokes Bluff 30, Pisgah 20

The Bulldogs may be playing as good a football as any team around but a trip to Hokes Bluff is never easy.

Susan Moore made quick work of Ashville last week and the Bulldogs are now setting their sights on a run back toward the top of the region. In their way stands one of those gritty Hokes Bluff teams that you hate to play. The Bulldog offense was very efficient last week and put up 51 points and almost 560 yards of offense. Susan Moore is finally getting production out of the running game and that should open up things for Justin Hawkins and the passing game. If the Bulldogs are able to run this week, Hokes Bluff is in trouble. Look for the Eagles to try to take away the run and make the Bulldogs one-dimensional. That may be a problem because the Bulldogs have several talented receivers. The Susan Moore offensive and defensive lines need to have a good week. Hokes Bluff doesn’t ever appear to be overpowering along the fronts but they are almost always solid and this year’s team is no different. The Bulldog defense must stop the run. Hokes Bluff is a bit banged up at the skill positions and the Bulldogs need to take advantage.

Hokes Bluff always looks and plays the same and that is not good news for the opposition. The Eagles are always a physical, rugged team with better than expected speed and quickness. Injuries have robbed the Eagles of their most dangerous player – tailback Cole Frederick. The loss of Frederick was particularly devastating because he was an all-state type of talent with the speed to score from anywhere. In his place, the Eagles have inserted Jacob Pennington (5’8, 175 Jr.) to team with fullback Trey Adcock (5’11, 165 Sr.). Adcock burned Pisgah last week for 45 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries and 25 yards on two receptions and he also kicked a 27-yard field goal. Pennington showed some speed by gaining 95 yards on 15 carries. The Eagles are throwing a bit more this year and Brad Robertson (6’0, 150 So.) completed 5 of 13 passes last week for 62 yards. The Hokes Bluff defense wore down against talented Piedmont and Saks to start the year but this is a physical group that comes to play. The Eagles have been particularly effective forcing turnovers. Hokes Bluff is usually solid in the kicking game. The Eagles got a 95-yard punt return for a touchdown from Dakota Hallmark (6’0, 175 Sr.) last week but also gave up a 65-yard return for a score.

Next week – Susan Moore finally plays a non-region
opponent as Oakman visits for homecoming; Hokes
Bluff travels to White Plains.