We are at the halfway mark of the high school football season and that means it’s time to assess each team’s outlook – at least as far as region races and playoff consideration.
Appalachian – the Eagles are 0-4 overall and 0-4 in 1A Region 6. Most of the region heavyweights are in the rearview mirror – except for Ragland this week and the Purple Devils are the best team on the schedule. Playoff chances – very, very slim.
Cleveland – the Panthers are 2-3 overall and 0-3 in 3A Region 5. There are definitely some winnable games left on the schedule but the Panthers will need to pull an upset or two (or three) to make the playoffs.
Hayden – the Wildcats are 0-5 overall and 0-3 in 5A Region 6. Hayden hasn’t been able to catch a break all year. Playoff chances – not good at all but a huge upset in Jasper this week would ease the pain.
Locust Fork – the Hornets are 1-4 overall, 0-3 in 4A Region 6. Locust Fork got a big win last week at Blountsville but there are still some seriously talented football teams to be played. Playoff chances – (see Appalachian).
Oneonta – the Redskins are 5-0 overall, 3-0 in 4A Region 6, and ranked No. 1 in Class 4A. Oneonta just keeps blistering the opposition but there are a couple of games coming up that could be interesting. Playoff chances – uh, very, very good.
J.B. Pennington – the Tigers are 1-4 overall, 1-2 in 3A Region 6. Pennington has been all over the place – played Cleveland and Sylvania tight, beat Pisgah on the road, was blown out by Plainview and Locust Fork. Playoff chances – still a shot, a long shot, but a shot.
Southeastern – the Mustangs are 0-4 overall, 0-3 in 1A Region 6. Keith Moore’s squad is learning every snap and that’s what matters. Playoff chances – none but that’s not the point.
Susan Moore – the Bulldogs are 2-3 overall, 1-2 in 3A Region 5. Susan Moore got off to a good start but the last few weeks haven’t been pretty. Playoff chances – still a chance but a win this week is almost a must.
All games kick off at 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 3
1A Appalachian (0-4, 0-4 in Region 6) at No. 4 Ragland (4-0, 3-0) All-time – The series is tied 16-16
Last meeting – (2011) Ragland 30, Appalachian 14
Meek 21, Appalachian 20 OT Sum. Chr. 24, Appalachian 20 Falkville 45, Appalachian 24 Appalachian – Open Addison 18, Appalachian 0
Ragland – Open Ragland 36, Addison 7 Ragland 34, Gaylesville 11 Ragland 48, Southeastern 0 Ragland 62, Shades Mtn. Chr. 7
The Eagles will take a shot at the Purple Devils.
Appalachian did some good things last week. The Eagle defense got pushed around a bit by the Addison running game but it was still just a 12-0 game late in the fourth quarter. The Eagles are a little undersized and outmanned up front but this group did force some turnovers last week. The Appalachian offense is having to be re-tooled after the loss of quarterback James McMunn to injury. Brandon Reese did a solid job last week and will get even better as the season plays out but he needs some help. The Appalachian offensive line must do a better job this week and that will not be easy against a Ragland defense that is very big and physical across the front.
Ragland is pounding through the schedule and should be at No. 3 on the Alabama Sports Writers Association (ASWA) rankings this week. The Purple Devils have the best combination of size and speed of any team in 1A not named Marion County or Linden. New head coach Jonathan Nix has inherited a solid team and the Purple Devils’ only weakness is probably a lack of depth along the offensive and defensive fronts. So far, that hasn’t been a problem. Ragland will pound away behind an offensive line that averages about 240 lbs. and then will throw deep when the defense comes up to stop the run. Textbook football and it hasn’t been stopped yet this year. Unlike in year’s past, Ragland special teams are very good.
Next week – Appalachian hosts Southeastern; Ragland travels to Meek.
3A Cleveland (2-3, 0-3 in Region 5) at Weaver (3-2, 2-1) All-time – This is the first meeting
Cleveland 14, J.B. Penn. 6 Susan Moore 35, Cleveland 21 Ashville 28, Cleveland 20 Piedmont 35, Cleveland 0 Cleveland 35, West End 6
Weaver 13, Cleburne Co. 7 Glencoe 15, Weaver 3 Weaver 20, White Plains 14 Weaver 20, Susan Moore 13 Jacksonville 34, Weaver 13
The Panthers will try to upset the Bearcats.
Cleveland was able to do what it does best last week – run the ball in a variety of different ways against a West End defense that wore down as the night went on. More than most teams, the Panthers have to run the ball to be effective. Christian Collum’s return last week led to a much more efficient offensive night for the Panthers. Weaver has done a good job of stopping the run this year but the Panthers will need to test the interior of the Bearcat defense. The Panther defense did a nice job two weeks ago against the speed of Piedmont until wearing down late in the game and will need a similar effort this week. Weaver will try to mix the run and the pass but the Bearcats have struggled to balance the offense against better defenses. Panther coverage teams will need to bring their “A” game this week.
Weaver has played solid defense this year but Jacksonville just lined up and mashed the Bearcats last week. The Weaver defense had contained the explosive offenses of Cleburne County and Glencoe but the 4A Golden Eagles ran the ball down the Bearcats’ collective throat. Weaver won close games against White Plains and Susan Moore by running the ball and stopping the run and Cleveland will have to get something going on the ground this week to have a chance. The Bearcats are not huge (avg. 220 lbs.) but Darryl Hamby’s team has played physical football on defense this year. Junior quarterback Timothy Hawkins (6’2, 170 Jr) has made plays in every game this year and he has plenty of weapons around him. Chris English (5’11, 155 Jr) is dangerous with the ball in his hands and the Bearcats will use him in a variety of ways.
Next week – Cleveland hosts Glencoe; Weaver travels to Saks.
5A Hayden (0-5, 0-3 in Region 6) at Walker (3-2, 3-0) All-time – Walker leads the series 6-0
Sylacauga 35, Hayden 21 Springville 21, Hayden 20 Moody 14, Hayden 13 Pinson 29, Hayden 9 Corner 28, Hayden 22
Cullman 42, Walker 14 Walker 28, Moody 13 Walker 31, Pinson 13 Walker 41, Curry 15 Russellville 16, Walker 0
The Wildcats will try to end a losing streak in Jasper.
The Wildcats keep finding ways to lose games, mainly due to slow starts. Corner led 28-0 in the second quarter last week before the Wildcats woke up. A similar start this week would not be advised against a Walker team is capable of winning the region. Hayden needs to come out firing on all cylinders this week. The Wildcat passing game has been solid this year but Corey Ward struggled last week against a Corner defensive front that brought pressure. The Hayden running game has not been good enough to keep defenses honest. The Wildcat defense has to stop the run. Walker struggled to run the ball in the first half against Curry and trailed at halftime. Russellville limited Walker to just 82 total yards last week. If Walker can run, the Vikings can win.
Walker was shut out by a physical Russellville defense last week, the Vikings’ first shutout since 2006. The Vikings had been playing much better with three straight region wins but Russellville frustrated John Wayne Holladay’s team from the opening drive of the game. The Vikings lost a ton of talent from last year and have had to rebuild quite a bit. The Walker offense managed just 50 rushing yards on 23 carries last week and completed just 3 of 12 passes for 32 yards. In a Week 3 win at Pinson, the Walker defense forced five turnovers and kept the potent Indian offense bottled up for the most part. This group did a nice job last week against Russellville and kept the Vikings in the game. Cullman and Pinson were able to make some plays through the air against the Walker defense.
Next week – Hayden travels to Mortimer Jordan while Walker visits Center Point.
4A Crossville (1-4, 0-3 in Region 6) at Locust Fork (1-4, 0-3) HC All-time – Crossville leads the series 2-1
Plainview 35, Crossville 7 St. Clair Co. 44, Crossville 13 Sardis 45, Crossville 7 Oneonta 49, Crossville 6 Crossville 26, DAR 25
New Hope 45, Locust Fork 26 Sardis 68, Locust Fork 48 Oneonta 59, Locust Fork 20 Fairview 55, Locust Fork 26 Locust Fork 48, Pennington 24
The Hornets would love to get a victory in front of a big homecoming crowd.
Crossville got a much-needed win last week and it took a come-from-behind effort at DAR to do it. The Lion offense has been bottled up by the better defenses of Plainview, St. Clair County, Sardis, and Oneonta but last week the Lions were able to run the ball. Avery Ross (5’11, 160 Sr) led the Lions with 97 yards and a touchdown on nine carries and it was hit 32-yard run with 4:14 to play that proved to be the game-winner. The Crossville offensive and defensive lines have some size (avg. 230 lbs.) but teams with speed and quickness have caused all kinds of problems for the Lions. The Crossville defense did come up with a huge stop when DAR went for two with less than a minute last week.
Locust Fork opened things up in the second half last week against J.B. Pennington and it was the Hornet defense that made plays. The Tigers got a touchdown on the opening possession of the second half to cut the Hornet lead to 28-22 but the Locust Fork defense didn’t give up anything after that. The Hornets will need to keep that intensity on the defensive side of the ball this week. The Locust Fork offense was able to make some plays on the ground last week in the first half and the passing game hit on a couple of big plays in the second half. The Hornet receivers could have an advantage working against a Crossville secondary that has been lit up at times this year.
Next week – Crossville travels to Guntersville while Locust Fork goes to Douglas.
4A Douglas (2-3, 0-3 in Region 6) at No. 1 Oneonta (5-0, 3-0) All-time – Oneonta leads the series 41-19-4
Douglas 21, DAR 6 Fairview 40, Douglas 26 St. Clair County 30, Douglas 16 Sardis 42, Douglas 28 Douglas 36, Brindlee Mtn. 9
Oneonta 21, Pinson Valley 16 Oneonta 28, Guntersville 10 Oneonta 59, Locust Fork 20 Oneonta 49, Crossville 6 Oneonta 42, Susan Moore 0
The Eagles will try to pound on the Redskins. Good luck on that.
Douglas has been pretty good against bad teams but not very good against 4A Region 6 opponents. The Eagles want to be physical and hard-nosed and Brian Knapp’s team has had some success this year, mainly on offense. Carlton Peppers (5’11, 165 Sr) is a playmaking quarterback and he ran and threw the ball all over Brindlee Mountain last week. Freshman fullback Keenen Lewis (5’7, 145) is a quick little back that can make things happen. The Douglas offensive and defensive lines have a little bit of size (avg. 225 lbs.) but were run over by St. Clair County earlier this season. The Douglas defense has struggled against better offenses. Fairview quarterback Luke Bailey threw the ball all over the Eagle secondary and St. Clair County’s offensive line paved the way for Kortez Carr to rush for more than 200 yards.
The Redskins continued to deal misery to the opposition last week. Oneonta jumped out to a 42-0 halftime lead and cruised despite missing three starters. Douglas will test the Redskin defensive front with a decent running game. Other than two big plays from Guntersville quarterback Clayton Daniel, yards on the ground against the Redskins have been hard to come by. Peppers is a good athlete and he has some talent around him so the Redskin defense will have to play well. The Oneonta offense got more out of the running game last week and that is an area that is slowly becoming more of a weapon for the Redskins. Tyler Smith and Javon Russell have had moments this year behind a Redskin offensive line that is becoming more and more dominant. Douglas special teams have been good but the Redskins are dangerous in the return game.
Next week – Douglas travels to Locust Fork; Oneonta visits Fairview.
3A J.B. Pennington (1-4, 1-2 in Region 6) at Holly Pond (1-4, 1-2) All-time – Pennington leads the series 25-11
Cleveland 14, Pennington 6 Pennington 31, Pisgah 14 Sylvania 27, Pennington 7 Plainview 47, Pennington 6 Locust Fork 48, Pennington 24
Good Hope 37, Holly Pond 6 Holly Pond 18, Brindlee Mtn. 13 New Hope 42, Holly Pond 0 Sylvania 49, Holly Pond 14 Fairview 28, Holly Pond 7
The winner can stay in the playoff hunt.
Pennington played with Locust Fork into the second half before wearing down and now must go on the road. The Tiger offense put up solid numbers but couldn’t make plays late in the game when the Hornets seized control. Brandon Butts threw the ball well last week but the Tigers left too many points on the field. The Pennington defense made the Hornets work for their points but the challenge is much different this week. Holly Pond will try to run the ball on almost every snap and the Broncos will also look to slow the game down if they stay with the same script from last week. The Tigers have been a bit banged up and injuries have caused some problems.
Holly Pond has been blown out at times this year but the Broncos are coming off a pretty good effort against 4A Fairview. The Holly Pond offense last week was able to pound away a bit last week behind an offensive line that averages about 240 lbs. The Broncos milked the play clock on almost every snap last week and was able to keep the explosive Fairview offense off the field. Jacob Jones (5’8, 175 Jr) led the Broncos with 117 yards on 18 carries against Fairview. The Bronco defense couldn’t handle the speed and quickness of the better offenses it has seen. Good Hope, New Hope, and Sylvania had several explosive plays against the Holly Pond defense. Bronco special teams are very solid.
Next week – Pennington will travel to Brindlee Mtn.; Holly Pond travels to Geraldine.
3A Ashville (2-3, 1-2 in Region 5) at Susan Moore (2-3, 1-2) HC All-time – Susan Moore leads the series 7-4
Ashville 25, Springville 21 Piedmont 36, Ashville 13 Ashville 28, Cleveland 20 Saks 35, Ashville 6 Moody 24, Ashville 18
Susan Moore 41, West End 12 Susan Moore 35, Cleveland 21 Saks 28, Susan Moore 6 Weaver 20, Susan Moore 13 Oneonta 42, Susan Moore 0
A battle of the Bulldogs with a dash of homecoming thrown in for good measure.
Ashville has been in every game with only region front-runners Piedmont and Saks able to put the Bulldogs away. E.J. Moss (6’4, 210 Jr) is the quarterback and leader of an explosive offense that has talent at the skill positions and enough across the offensive line to battle most teams to a standstill. Former Cleveland head coach Mark O’Bryant has an aggressive offensive team with a defense that can make plays. Ashville has decent size up front (avg. 225 lbs.) and more than enough athletes with quickness to make plays. Piedmont was tied with Ashville 13-13 in the second quarter before pulling away and both Piedmont and Saks were able to pound the ball on the Ashville defense. Cleveland struggled to move the ball on the ground (only 69 yards) but threw for a season-high 169 yards. Ashville has a couple of dangerous return guys that can make plays in the kicking game.
Susan Moore never got going last week against Oneonta and has now lost three in a row. The Bulldogs have started slowly in three straight losses and will need to come out of the fieldhouse ready to play this Friday night. Ashville is improved but they have also been hammered by Saks and had to come from behind in the fourth quarter to beat Cleveland. Susan Moore never got the running game going last week (17 yards on 20 carries) but Ashville doesn’t have Oneonta’s defensive front. If the Bulldogs (the purple ones) can get Preston Kent and Chase Brown going on the ground, Ryan Brown will be able to see the field and Ashville has given up some plays through the air. The Bulldog defense will have to get a handle on Moss early. He is a dynamic athlete that can make plays with his arm or his legs.
Next week – Ashville hosts White Plains; Susan Moore hosts top-ranked Piedmont.
1A Shades Mtn. Christian (0-4, 0-4 in Region 6) vs Southeastern (0-4, 0-3) at Appalachian
Sumiton Christian 35, Shades Mtn. Chr. 0 Falkville 34, Shades Mtn. Chr. 14 Shades Mtn. Chr. – Open Addison 42, Shades Mtn. Chr. 3 Ragland 62, Shades Mtn. Chr. 7
Falkville 61, Southeastern 7 Southeastern – Open Addison 48, Southeastern 0 Ragland 48, Southeastern 0 Holy Spirit 39, Southeastern 0
The Mustangs will take a shot at the Eagles.
Shades Mtn. has been kicked around pretty good this year but the Eagles are also one of the biggest teams (avg. 250 lbs.) across the offensive and defensive lines in the region. Southeastern will have to run the ball to have a chance and the Mustangs were able to pick up some yards on the ground last week at Holy Spirit. Mauris Zamora continues to play hard-nosed, physical football and the Mustangs will need to get him going early this week against Shades Mtn. Southeastern played pretty solid defense early last week as Holy Spirit didn’t get on the board until very late in the first quarter. Addison forced five turnovers against Shades Mtn. and Ragland simply pounded the Eagles into submission and then ran around them for the rest of the night. Shades Mtn. has been able to make some plays in the return game this year so Mustang coverage units will need to tackle well.
Next week – Shades Mtn. Christian hosts Coosa Christian; Southeastern goes to Appalachian.