Time to separate contenders from pretenders

Several Blount County teams can all but clinch playoff berths with wins this week.

With seven region games, the magic number is four when it comes to region wins. Appalachian, Oneonta, and Susan Moore each have three region wins and can seemingly assure themselves of a playoff date with a win this week.

Cleveland, Locust Fork, and J.B. Pennington have two region wins and need to win out over the rest of the region schedule to have a chance.

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

Friday, Oct. 9 Jefferson Christian (1-5, 1-3 in 1A Region 5) at Appalachian (4-2, 3-1) HC Last year – Appalachian 58, Jefferson Christian 0
All-time – Appalachian leads the series 3-0

Isabella 57, Jefferson Chr. 6 Jefferson Chr. 14, St. Bernard 12 Ragland 40, Jefferson Chr. 0 Jacksonville Chr. 51, Jefferson Chr. 6 Shades Mtn. Chr. 51, Jefferson Chr. 12 Coosa Chr. 53, Jefferson Chr. 12

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

Eagles need to rebound from disappointing trip to Pell City.

Jefferson Christian has struggled on both sides of the ball this year. The Eagles, who have been a member of the AHSAA only since 2006, have won just three of their past 26 games and were 0-10 a year ago. The Eagles had trouble with numbers when playing in the AISA and those problems are even more evident now against public school competition. Jefferson Christian has a little bit of size but not enough to compete with most of the better teams in Region 5. Better offenses have buried the Eagles under an avalanche of early points.

Appalachian didn’t get many breaks last week at Pell City but the Eagles didn’t help themselves either. Victory Christian kept the Eagle defense on the run for most of the night by mixing up the run and the pass and finished with almost 350 yards of offense. In the pivotal third quarter, the Eagles seemed intent on digging a bigger hole after losing their composure and committing several needless penalties. Appalachian needs to come out with intensity from the opening snap this week and prove to the homecoming crowd that this is a team on a mission to be the best in 1A Region 5.

Next week – Jefferson Christian hosts Victory
Christian; Appalachian travels to Parkway Christian.

Cleveland (3-3, 2-2 in 2A Region 7) at No. 6 Winston County (6-0, 4-0) Last year – Winston County 35, Cleveland 20
All-time – Winston County leads the series 1-0

Locust Fork 15, Cleveland 14 Sulligent 35, Cleveland 12 Lamar Co. 48, Cleveland 30 Cleveland 42, Cold Springs 0 Cleveland 21, J.B. Penn. 20 Cleveland 41, Oakman 19 Winston Co. 19, Lawrence Co. 3

Winston Co. 41, Oakman 21

Winston Co. 7, Addison 0

Winston Co. 27, Falkville 0

Winston Co. 35, Carbon Hill 0

Winston Co. 35, Sulligent 14

Despite battling injuries and illness, Cleveland has quietly put together a nice little run over the last three weeks and now can be considered a dark horse for a playoff spot. However, the Panthers get what might be the best team in the region this week at Double Springs. Cleveland quarterback Dusty Cornelius continues to make plays with his arm and his legs and he has had plenty of support around him. Chas Cornelius has proven to be a legitimate threat with the ball in his hands and Wayne Woodard and Geoffrey Gammon have produced each week. The Panther defense has been hit hard by injuries but this unit has to play well this week. Winston County has one of the better running game around and only Addison has been able to slow down the Yellow Jackets. If Cleveland can stop the run, Winston County will be forced to throw – something the Yellow Jackets do not want to do.

Winston County didn’t get its fourth straight shutout last week but the Yellow Jackets are coming off one of their best performances of the year. Sulligent never got much going against the Yellow Jacket offense and the Winston County offense lined up and knocked the Blue Devils all over the field. The Yellow Jackets are a physical, grind-it-out bunch on offense with an attack predicated on wearing the opponent down. Winston County has thrown the ball with a bit of success but this is a bunch that wants to make the game a physical war of attrition – a contest the banged-up Panthers cannot afford to get into. The Yellow Jacket defense has been as good as there is this year. Oakman broke a couple of big plays after the issue was decided but the Winston County defense has held every offense it has seen in check. Special teams have been good for Winston County but it would be nice if the Panthers could get make a play or two in the return game this week to steal some points.

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

Mortimer Jordan (3-3, 3-2 in 5A Region 6) at Hayden (1-5, 1-4)

Last year – Mortimer Jordan 27, Hayden 23
All-time – Mortimer Jordan leads the series 18-10

M.. Jordan 49, Curry 30 M. Jordan 24, Brewer 14 Erwin 30, M. Jordan 28 M. Jordan 19, Springville 15 Cullman 51, M. Jordan 14 Moody 27, M. Jordan 21 OT Cullman 42, Hayden 19

Haleyville 21, Hayden 7

Hayden 20, Brewer 14

Pleasant Grove 49, Hayden 0

Wildcats get a visit from biggest rival.

Walker 48, Hayden 7

Curry 27, Hayden 8

Mortimer Jordan is right in the thick of the playoff hunt and needs to win this game to stay there. The Blue Devils are coming off a very disappointing loss last week after getting hammered by top-ranked Cullman the week before. Greg Watts’s team has been effective on offense this year but struggled against the better defenses of Cullman and Springville. Watts has always favored a wing-T attack on offense but the Blue Devils have been able to throw the ball the last couple of years more than some might think. Mortimer Jordan does not have the size across the lines this year that they have had. The Blue Devil defense was blitzed by spreadbased Cullman and Erwin and ground-pounding Curry and Moody each had their moments. Blue Devil specialty units are good and the return game is explosive.

Hayden continues to have problems hanging onto the football. Five more turnovers last week at Curry took away any chance the Wildcats had of knocking off the Yellow Jackets. The Wildcat offense has moved the ball at times but turnovers have stopped almost every good drive they have been able to establish. Hayden has struggled to run the ball against better defenses but Mortimer Jordan has given up some yards on the ground this year so this might be the week that the Wildcats bust out. The Hayden defense was pushed around last week by a solid Curry rushing attack and Mortimer Jordan will test the Wildcat defensive front again this week. Hayden special teams have been decent but this would be a nice time for the return units to make some plays.

Next week – Mortimer Jordan hosts Walker; Hayden
travels to Erwin.
Locust Fork (3-3, 1-3 in 4A Region 6) at St. Clair Co. (3-3, 2-2) Last year – St. Clair Co. 30, Locust Fork 7
All-time – The series is tied 4-4

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. 34, Moody 7

St. Clair Co. 44, Ashville 0

Alexandria 42, St. Clair Co. 14 Hokes Bluff 22, St. Clair Co. 13

St. Clair Co. 19, Leeds 14

Cherokee Co. 50, St. Clair Co. 7

Hornets need to come up with a good effort on the road.

The Hornets got an early score last week but then the offense disappeared and Alexandria pulled away. Locust Fork must play well this week at Odenville against a St. Clair Co. team that has been the definition of hot-andcold. The Hornets have size up front on the offensive line but have struggled to run the ball against better defenses. Locust Fork will face a St. Clair defensive front that was tough for the first two weeks of the season but has since struggled stopping the run. Quarterback Kyle Smith made some plays last week but the running game was just not good enough – just 59 yards on the ground. The Locust Fork defense played well for two weeks leading up to last week. The Hornet defense needs to play physical football and tackle well against a St. Clair offense that can look very good or very average.

St. Clair County looked very good through the first two weeks of the season but the Saints have won just once in the past four games. However, that win was against Leeds, which was ranked No. 1 in 3A at the time. The Saint offense has been up and down but quarterback Jervontez Goldsby (5’9, 175 Sr) has made plays in almost every game. He is a quality athlete that can throw or run with equal effectiveness. There is plenty of skill around him in the backfield. The Saints had to rebuild along the offensive and defensive lines and these units were great early but have struggled against better competition. Stopping the run was a problem against Alexandria and Hokes Bluff and the defense was flat-out overmatched by Cherokee County’s potent attack last week. Special teams have been average but there is reason to fear the Saints’ kick returners.

Next week – Locust Fork hosts Cherokee Co.; St. Clair
Co. travels to Jacksonville.

No. 10 Oneonta (5-1, 3-1 in 4A Region 6) at Hokes Bluff (4-2, 2-2) Last year – Oneonta 38, Hokes Bluff 14
All-time – Oneonta leads the series 4-1

Oneonta 34, Arab 33 Oneonta 52, Jacksonville 0 Oneonta 45, Locust Fork 13 Cherokee Co. 49, Oneonta 14 Oneonta 28, Susan Moore 21 Oneonta 46, Ashville 7

Hokes Bluff 21, Southside 14

Hokes Bluff 49, Locust Fork 14 Cherokee Co. 49, Hokes Bluff 14

Hokes Bluff 22, St. Clair Co. 13

Hokes Bluff 35, Ragland 14

Jacksonville 33, Hokes Bluff 30

Redskins face major test with trip to Etowah County.

Oneonta got just what it needed last week – a chance to coast by a lesser team after two weeks of tough competition. Now, back to the grindstone and the Redskins will go in weakened by the flu. Oneonta had as many as 15 players miss practice this week (including head coach Gardner Gilliland) and didn’t even try to practice Tuesday.

The Redskin offense was able to work on some things in the passing game last week and will need to be sharp this week against a Hokes Bluff team that is trying to stay in the playoff hunt. Oneonta needs to get the ball to Nolen Smith and Alvin Scott down the field. When the Redskins are able to throw the ball, the offensive line is not trying to block seven in the box and that opens up lanes for running backs Vernarr Hughes and Brandon Evatt. Oneonta will have a size advantage across the offensive and defensive fronts this week. The Redskin defense will be tested by a Hokes Bluff team that wants to run but can, and will, pass. The key this week – is Oneonta healthy enough to win on the road against a Hokes Bluff team that is 3-0 at home this season?

Mike Robertson has been at Hokes Bluff a long time and all of his teams look the same. Hokes Bluff will be physical and will try to run the football but can throw the ball with a quarterback, in this case the coach’s son, that is a steady leader. The main weapon for the Eagles is running back Cole Frederick (5’10, 165 Jr), who ripped off an 80-yard touchdown run on the first play against the Redskins last year. Cole Robertson (5’9, 155 Sr) is the quarterback and he has made some plays this year through the air. Turnovers have been a problem for the Hokes Bluff offense. The Eagle roster has just two players listed at 200 pounds so size across the offensive and defensive fronts is a problem. However, the Eagle linemen have played six games already and have been outsized in every one of them so the bigger Redskins won’t intimidate them. Jacksonville did run the ball very well last week in the surprising 33- 30 win. The Eagles never covered Nolen Smith last year and he finished the game with 12 receptions for 185 yards and a touchdown. He will probably draw some extra attention from the Hokes Bluff secondary this week. Hokes Bluff special teams are always solid.

Next week – Oneonta has a homecoming

date with Alexandria; Hokes Bluff
travels to Ashville.

J.B. Pennington (2-4, 2-2 in Region 7) at Vinemont (4-2, 3-1) Last year – Vinemont 44, J.B. Penn. 40 All-time – J.B. Penn. leads the series 11-2

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

Fairview 35, Vinemont 26

Winfield 33,Vinemont 12 Vinemont 20, Carbon Hill 0 Vinemont 33, Good Hope 0

Vinemont 35, Falkville 6 Vinemont 14, Hanceville 7

Tigers try to duplicate last week’s gutty effort.

Good Hope is struggling but the Tigers picked up a quality win last week. Trailing 14-7 in the third quarter, the Pennington offense shoved the Raider defense around on a couple of scoring drives to finish off the win. Perhaps the Tigers will have a bit more confidence this week after breaking the three-game losing streak. The Tigers got a good night from the offensive line last week and established the run early. That gave Lee Morton time to throw the ball and he had one of his better nights so far this season. The Tiger defense gave up some plays last week but also got stronger in the second half and was able to force some turnovers. Vinemont will test the Tigers with a strong running game early and Pennington’s defensive front cannot get knocked off the ball if Pennington is to pull the upset on the road.

Vinemont is playing very good football, especially on the defensive side, under Mark Smothers. The Eagles were burned early by Fairview’s spread attack and then the hard-nosed, physical running game of Winfield but have surrendered just 13 points over the last four games. The Eagles have excelled at stopping the run and it will be interesting to see if Pennington can move the ball on the ground early against the Vinemont defensive front. The Eagle offense is diverse but the main weapon is senior running back Eli Harris (5’10, 175) who rushed for 202 yards with a touchdown and a two-point conversion in last week’s win over Hanceville. He carried the ball 25 times for more than 150 yards in the second half, wearing down the Hanceville defense and something that should concern the Tiger coaching staff this week. Quarterback Reno Jones has quietly put together a solid season throwing the ball for the Eagles.

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

Brindlee Mtn. (0-6, 0-4 in 3A Region 6) at Susan Moore (4-2, 3-1) Last year – S. Moore 39, Brindlee Mtn. 14 All-time – S. Moore leads the series 1-0

Douglas 32, Brindlee Mtn. 14 Pisgah 52, Brindlee Mtn. 10 New Hope 32, Brindlee Mtn. 17 Sylvania 42, Brindlee Mtn. 0 DAR 51, Brindlee Mtn. 0 Sardis 34, Brindlee Mtn. 6

S. Moore 29, J.B. Penn. 0 S. Moore 47, Holly Pond 15

Pisgah 22, S. Moore 21 S. Moore 28, New Hope 0

Oneonta 28, S. Moore 21

S. Moore 34, Sylvania 27

Bulldogs need to continue to play well with serious challenges looming.

Brindlee Mountain has been on the wrong end of several blowouts this year and most games have been decided by halftime. The program, which began play in 2006 and is competing for the second year in 3A after starting in 2A, has struggled on the football field losing 33 of 36 games. The Lions’ last win was a 42-13 victory over Mount Hope in the 2007 season opener. The Lions are not a deep football team, especially across the offensive and defensive fronts, and most teams on the schedule have had their way with the Brindlee Mountain defense. The Lions do have some skill kids with speed and quickness. However, injuries have hit a roster that was not very deep to begin with. The Lions moved the ball and scored some points against New Hope but have struggled since then.

Susan Moore got a quality win on the road last week against a good opponent and can’t get caught looking ahead to next week’s big game at Sardis. The Bulldogs continue to get good play from junior quarterback Justin Hawkins, who made plays on the ground and through the air last week. The running game welcomed the return of Phillip McEvoy but needs to get Blake Weaver back to be at full strength. The Susan Moore offensive line continues to quietly play good football. The Bulldog defense played well early but gave up a couple of big plays in the second half to make the score closer than it should have been. Brindlee Mountain has enough talent at the skill positions to make some noise if the Bulldog defense is not properly focused this week.

Next week – Brindlee Mtn. hosts
Crossville; Susan Moore travels to Sardis.