Tough trips for Eagles and Redskins

The regular season is over, the playoffs begin this week, and only two Blount County teams are still playing. And neither can be considered the favorite playing on the road this week.

Appalachian, the No. 4 team out of 1A Region 6, travels to take on Region 7 champion Collinsville. The Eagles played solid football last week and will need to be even better to upset the Panthers.

Oneonta is the No. 3 team out of 4A Region 6 and the Redskins travel to Guntersville this week to take on a Wildcat team that is the No. 2 seed from Region 7. These two teams met in a jamboree at Guntersville back in August – a game that Guntersville won 10-7. Each team suffered an injury at the all-important quarterback position last week so the health of the signal-callers may go a long way toward deciding this one.

As always, all games kick off at 7 p.m. and admission is $7. Also, there is no reserved seating in the playoffs – it’s firstcome, first-serve at every game.

Thursday, Nov. 4

1A Appalachian (5-4) at Collinsville (9-1) Last meeting – 2008 (1A playoffs, first round) Appalachian 21, Collinsville 7

All-time – Collinsville leads series 5-4

Appalachian 26, J.B. Pennington 13
Appalachian 54, Jacks. Christian 20
Appalachian 46, Coosa Christian 0
Akron 28, Appalachian 22
Berry 58, Appalachian 22
Donoho 34, Appalachian 8
Appalachian 57, Jefferson Christian 6
Appalachian – Open
Ragland 30, Appalachian 14
Appalachian 22, Cleveland 7

Collinsville 49, Coosa Christian 0
Collinsville 41, Spring Garden 25
Collinsville 24, Gaston 14
Collinsville 56, Woodland 14
Collinsville 56, Jefferson Christian 0
Collinsville 26, Cedar Bluff 20
Collinsville 28, Gaylesville 7
Collinsville 49, Decatur Heritage 13
Collinsville 49, Valley Head 13
Ragland 12, Collinsville 7

The Eagles and the Panthers have met nine times – Collinsville won the first five but the Eagles have won the last four. Collinsville hasn’t won a playoff game since a 30-27 victory over Meek in the first round in 2001.

Appalachian played solid football in last week’s win over Cleveland. The Eagle defense forced five turnovers and limited the Panthers to just 210 total yards. If the Eagle defense plays as well this week, then Appalachian has a chance. Collinsville has only been tested twice this year (Cedar Bluff, Ragland) and the Panthers are 1-1 in those games. The Eagle defense has to tackle well this week. Collinsville has explosive speed at the skill positions and the Panthers have made plays against almost every defense they’ve seen (Ragland didn’t allow the Panthers much at all last week). Appalachian is giving up right at 200 yards per game on the ground and Collinsville will look to test the Appalachian front early and often. The Appalachian offense did a nice job of taking advantage when given short fields by the defense. The Eagles had struggled to run the ball at times this year and then struggled to throw the ball at Donoho and against Ragland. The Eagles must get offensive balance this week to pull the upset. Collinsville is very explosive and the fewer snaps they have, the better. Eagle special teams, particularly the coverage units, must be solid this week.

Collinsville is the champion of 1A Region 7 and the Panthers are a good football team with a deep pool of skill players. The Panthers are not very big across either front. As a matter of fact, Collinsville’s roster lists only four players at 200 pounds or more. However, the Panthers have been very good across the offensive and defensive lines – dominating with speed and quickness against almost every team on the schedule. QB Charles Coker (5’8, 145 Sr.) is a quick little athlete that can make plays with his arm or with his legs. Curtis Williams (5’10, 140 Sr.) and Josh Gogus (5’8, 140 Sr.) are the playmakers for the Panthers. Each has done damage as running backs or catching passes from Coker. The Collinsville defense has been very solid against the run but has given up some yards through the air. Two weeks ago, Valley Head’s Benjamin Kirby completed 17 of 28 passes for 138 yards and Cedar Bluff’s Levi Mintz was even better earlier in the season. The Panther defense held Ragland in check last week and only gave up one touchdown – the Purple Devils got an interception return for the other score. This is a swarming, athletic defense that forces turnovers. However, this is also a defense that has given up plays through the air. If the Eagles can get good pass protection, the Panther secondary will surrender some plays. Collinsville special teams are very good – especially on punt and kick returns.

Next week – The winner advances to face either Lynn or Hackleburg in the second round and Appalachian would be the host regardless of the opponent.

4A Oneonta (8-2) at Guntersville (8-2) Last meeting – 1999 (regular season) Guntersville 30, Oneonta 6

All-time – Guntersville leads series 17-13

Oneonta 28, Southside 7
Alexandria 28, Oneonta 27
Oneonta 43, Springville 14
Oneonta 56, Locust Fork 20
Oneonta 47, Hayden 6
Oneonta 35, St. Clair County 7
Oneonta 42, Jacksonville 6
Anniston 34, Oneonta 31
Oneonta 49, Cleburne County 34
Oneonta 42, Susan Moore 3

Guntersville 17, Boaz 14
Guntersville 49, Crossville 0
Guntersville 61, Butler 6
North Jackson 23, Guntersville 21
Guntersville 10, Arab 0
Guntersville 35, Fairview 19
Guntersville 31, Douglas 6
Guntersville 45, DAR 0
Guntersville 26, Cherokee County 13
Albertville 27, Guntersville 20

The Redskins and Wildcats have met 30 times but only twice since the ’60s. Oddly, this is the first playoff meeting between the two schools.

The Redskins are a play away – against either Alexandria or Anniston – from playing at home this week. Unfortunately, Oneonta is on the road as a No. 3 seed from Region 6 and faces a Guntersville team that is probably as good as a lot of region winners. Oneonta got a strong test last week at Susan Moore with a Bulldog team that really got after the visiting Redskins. Oneonta used its newlyfound running game to good advantage the last couple of weeks and the Redskins might have to lean on the running game even more this week if Schyler Walker is not 100 percent. Guntersville is a very good defensive team, allowing just 129 rushing yards and 98 passing yards per game. Only North Jackson’s high-powered attack has done much through the air against the Wildcats while Boaz and Albertville (both 5A) moved the ball well on the ground against the Guntersville defense. Oneonta’s Tyler Smith has run with authority the last couple of weeks and the Redskins need more of that this week to get the win. The Oneonta defense will face a very solid Guntersville offense – even though there is a question mark at quarterback for the Wildcats. Oneonta did a nice job last week, limiting Susan Moore to just 121 total yards – and building on the second half performance against Cleburne County the week before. The Redskins must play well across the defensive front to slow down what has been a very potent Guntersville running game. If Oneonta can keep Guntersville from lining up and running the football, the Wildcats might be forced to go to the air with a backup quarterback that really struggled throwing the ball last week. Oneonta special teams might be needed to make a big play this week.

Guntersville is coming off a tough loss to rival Albertville and it might be even tougher if sophomore quarterback Clayton Daniel (5’7, 145) is unable to play this week. Daniel injured an ankle early against Albertville and didn’t return. In his place, the Wildcats’ got a great game from senior Nick McAnally (5’10, 175), who had touchdown runs of 45 and 44 yards against the Aggies and finished with 144 yards on 10 carries. However, McAnally completed just 3 of 8 passing for 34 yards and was picked off twice. Daniel is a threat with his legs (92 rushes for 722 yards and nine touchdowns) and his arm (55 of 101 passing for 922 yards with nine touchdowns and six interceptions). If he is out or limited this week, it definitely hurts the Wildcat offense. Rod Faulks (5’11, 175 Sr.) is the leading rusher for Guntersville with 986 yards and 12 touchdowns on 142 attempts. Guntersville has done a good job protecting the ball in all but two games – five turnovers at North Jackson; four against Albertville – and those just happen to be the team’s only losses this year. The Guntersville defense is giving up just 11 points per game and this unit has been solid every week. The Wildcats have forced 24 turnovers and posted three shutouts. The Wildcats have decent size up front on both sides of the ball in seniors Sam and Ben Cox, each is a 6’0, 200-lb. senior. Wildcat special teams are very good. Hunter Kennamer (5’11, 180 Sr.) has made 31 of 35 extra points and had the game-winning kick in overtime to beat Boaz in the season opener. Faulks and Daniel have been dangerous on any type of return.

Next week – The winner advances to face either Midfield or West Limestone in the second round. Oneonta would host Midfield but would travel to West Limestone.