Last Week’s Scores
Jacksonville 33 Ashville 7
Elmore Co. 35 Leeds 28
Moody 41 St. Clair Co. 20
Oxford 33 Pell City 0
Donoho 41 Ragland 7
Sylacauga 48 Springville 10
Victory Christian 14 Galesville 8
Ashville Bulldogs (1-2) vs. White Plains Wildcats (1-2)
Ashville’s setback last week exposed a vulnerability against a solid running game. This could become problematic this week when White Plains comes calling.
The Wildcats are a bit one-dimensional on the offense (and have only scored 16 points in the past two games), but they can shower an opponent body blow after body blow with their trio of backs. Junior (#18) quarterback Jaden Harris is the most talented of the three, with very fast feet and great vision in space. Harris is complemented in the backfield with seniors (#4) Garison Abbott and (#9) Mac Young. The Bulldogs must be prepared to defend against multiple axes of attack and a lot of misdirection out of the backfield.
White Plains’ defense got beaten up quite a bit last week against Hokes Bluff, surrendering a lot of points and a lot of yards. The Wildcats do have a couple of superior defensive players in junior defensive end (#2) Ethan Bozarth, who is very physical and fast on pursuit, along with the leader of their defense in senior middle linebacker (#33) David McClure. Fortunately for Ashville the rest of the White Plains defense thins out, and they will be very vulnerable to Ty Armstrong runs and Ashville’s play-action pass attack.
Leeds Green Wave (1-2) vs. Lincoln Golden Bears (1-1)
The Green Wave will not be facing the 1-9 Lincoln team of last year – this year’s squad got a lot healthier and is a formidable foe in 2018, proof being the opening victory against Southside-Gadsden earlier this year.
Lincoln’s offense, bolstered with a talented and experienced offensive line led by Javon Ward and Dalton Gowers have been able to protect their new versatile quarterback Javion Surles (#6), who has generated three touchdowns early in the season. Wells is supported by a couple of talented playmakers in senior running back Shamar Hampton (#1) and junior Cam Reynolds (#12) who are reliable single backs coming about of spread. Another special player on the offense is wideout (#2) Tre Garrett, a 6’3” star who may be the fastest player on the field come Friday.
The Green Wave’s formidable running attack led by Jakobi Hunter will be tested. Lincoln has two outstanding run stoppers in linebackers Keyshon Townsend and Jarrod McBurnett, helped over the top by safety Montez Hall. Both the Green Wave and the Golden Bears need this crucial game, and they match up very well with skill players and big interiors.
Moody Blue Devils (1-1) vs. Sylacauga Aggies (3-0)
This matchup hosted by Moody is as exciting a battle of great rushing attacks as you will find anywhere in the state this Friday night. In this corner – Moody’s Rashad Clark coming off of a spectacular 340+ yard rushing performance in a resounding victory over rival St. Clair County, in the other corner is the relentless option running attack of Sylacauga that has gotten them ranked in 5A football and an undefeated record.
The Aggies’ most explosive player on the offensive side of the ball is running back is (#5) Jordan Ridgeway, who singed Springville’s defense last week with 213 rushing yards and six touchdowns.
Moody’s defense has been a very consistent quality unit. The Blue Devils will have to contend with an Aggies offense led by quarterback (#3) Daylon Keith, who runs a multiple offense with a lot of moving parts and great misdirection. Keith’s best option out of the backfield after Ridgeway are wide receivers Brady Davis and (#6) Malik Wycoff. The Blue Devils will also have to contend with (#4) Lew Dale. The senior wide receiver has long play capability, can fly down the field, displays soft hands and can even throw the ball on trick plays.
Aside from Mortimer Jordan, this has lined up to be the battle for the two best teams in the region. Barring unforeseen injuries, the winner of Sylacauga and Moody may just about secure a home site playoff spot.
Pell City Panthers (2-1) vs. Gardendale Rockets (2-1)
There is a family in Gardendale by the name of Crowder, who send son after son to Gardendale High School to become stars on the football field. The latest iteration is sophomore quarterback (#18) Will Crowder’ who follows in his older brothers’ footsteps to lead Gardendale’s offense. Crowder has passing targets all over the field, featuring Senior WR (#12) Owen Cupps and Junior WR (#24) Stephen Lewis. Lined up in the backfield with Crowder is Senior running back (#1) Jacob Wright, who can easily gain over 100 yards on the ground if Gardendale successfully spreads the Panthers’ defense.
Pell City’s best hope offensively is successfully running the ball. Gardendale’s defensive front is led by Senior DE (#3) Xavier Skinner, who have proven to be hungry, effective run stoppers. A very impressive sophomore has emerged at linebacker in (#34) Kenneth McShan, who plays with a lot of heart and physical power. The Panthers may have a very difficult time with its passing game, going against the formidable pair of Rocket cornerbacks seniors (#9) Jonah Wright and (#5) Tanrence Catlin.
Pell City finds itself in a region where many of the teams are playing catch-up to Oxford and Clay-Chalkville, who are playing lights-out football so far this season. Gardendale has impressed as well, but their three closely fought games are good omens for Pell City – a team with a great history of battling out wins in closely fought games. This may be a make-or-break moment for Pell City’s playoff chances, taking on the Rockets at home.
Ragland Purple Devils (0-3) at Talladega Co. Cent. Fighting Tigers (2-1)
After a week one shutout loss against a Childersburg team miles above in classification, the Fighting Tigers of Talladega took regional opponent Appalachian behind the woodshed in a sound 34-0 thrashing last week. Ragland travels to a resurgent, and dare say beastly 1A powerhouse in Talladega CC. Ragland’s struggling offense will have to contend with one of the region’s best defensive players in senior middle linebacker (#4) Jaylon Swain, who blows up backfields on a regular basis. Defensively, the Purple Devils struggled against Donoho’s running attack last week. That is exactly the pressure TCC will apply with their flashy, tough tailback in senior (#10) Devin Dates.
Ragland enters this road game a heavy underdog. Putting some road blocks in front of Dates and capitalizing on turnovers may give the Purple Devils a fighting chance on Friday.
Springville Tigers (1-2) vs. Central Clay County Volunteers (1-1)
Springville hosts a Volunteer team that features a stifling defense loaded with star players. It will be a tall task indeed for the Tigers offensive line and quarterback Austin Hutcheson to find any gaps through this lauded unit.
Springville’s spread offense will need to get receivers open very quickly because of Central Clay’s relentless cornerback play. Seniors (#2) Paul Garrett and (#17) Anthony Valdes will alternate corner blitzes while jamming up receivers at the line. Over the top on coverage will be senior safety (#18) Shamari Simmons, who has been successful at erasing most intermediate and deep routes. Things will be just as challenging for Springville’s running attack. The Patriots’ defensive line is fairly good, but its linebacking corps of seniors (#4) DeWayne Garrett, (#26) Tyler Staples and junior (#21) JD McNealey is as solid and experienced as they come.
Sylacauga’s 48 points were scored on Springville utilizing a very effective cadre of running backs in an option attack. There will be more of that Friday. Junior QB (#10) Javon Wood is fleet of foot and has a very good short passing game. If Wood does not give the ball off to the power running of Junior (#39) Darius Kelly or the outside speed of (#16) Quentin Knight, he will bring in the speed sweeps and quick routes of sophomore Slot Back (#12) Ken Hayes, a small and effective athlete who gets lost in all the motion commotion of Central Clay’s offensive attack.
St. Clair County Saints (1-2) vs. Mortimer Jordan Blue Devils (2-1)
The Saints host Mortimer Jordan this week – a team that is very much on the same path as St. Clair County. The Blue Devils have had to replace a lot of starters from last year’s squad and are finding their footing, but it comes at the cost of muffed plays and several turnovers so far this season. Both Coach Dusty Goode and Matt Glover are very adept at rebuilding teams rather quickly, and this week’s regional matchup will be sort of a progress report for both programs.
MJ’s new quarterback is junior Kourlan Marsh, who is very slippery when he breaks out of the backfield. The Blue Devils spread-option attack features some solid running backs in Senior (#34) Daniel Franklin and Junior (#22) Garrett Helm, who also is a defensive standout. As Marsh improves in his passing, he will have a rich field of targets, including the outstanding senior wide receiver (#81) Luke Parks a 6’4” playmaker who can get to the high ball downfield.
Despite the Saints loss last week, their offense is now coming online. Opportunities to exploit Mortimer Jordan’s defense will come through their struggling linebacking corps. The Blue Devils are strong up front, with a solid wall brought by three seasoned seniors – Defensive ends (#50) Colby Mixon and (#53) Dylan Morris joined with defensive tackle (#79) Michael Barnes.
Victory Christian Lions (2-0) @ Appalachian Eagles (0-3)
The Lions are in the perfect spot to grab their third straight victory and remain undefeated as they travel to play Appalachian in a regional matchup that could position Victory Christian on an inside track for a playoff spot.
The Eagles have struggled defensively, giving up over 33 points per game while only generating seven points per game. There are some quality veteran two-way players on Appalachian’s squad, like (#10) Gabe Smith, senior lineman Chase Roberts and running back (#80) Alex Heard. Fortunately for the Lions, Appalachian struggles with sustained drives and they have weaknesses to exploit throughout their secondary. Victory Christian’s balanced offensive attack and ball discipline should lead to another comfortable victory on the road this week.