Last week’s scores:
Pell City 27 Calera 7
Springville 33 Ashville 22
Leeds 55 John Carroll 24
Victory Christian 26 Fayetteville 7
Etowah Co. 19 Moody 0
Cherokee Co. 33 St. Clair Co. 7
Westbrook Christian 28 Ragland 6
This week’s games
Ashville Bulldogs (1-1) @ Jacksonville (2-0)
Ashville heads into a mighty challenge this week as they visit undefeated Jacksonville. The Golden Eagles possess a dominant offensive line led by seniors (#62) center Jonathan Parker and (#68) guard Cole Gaddy. Through the first two weeks of the season, and dating back to last year’s 38-14 victory over Ashville, Jacksonville has a tendency of manhandling defensive fronts and letting loose into space their very talented offensive weapons in senior (#15) wide receiver Jewels Gray and the heart of the Golden Eagles running attack – junior (#4) RB Rontarius Wiggins.
Ashville’s offensive production will be fueled by a strong performance from running back Ty Armstrong. For this to happen, the Bulldogs offensive line will have to find a way to push back and muscle through Jacksonville’s trio of fine defensive linemen in (#17) Senior DE Josh Bell, (#50) Junior DE Cameron Parker and (#8) Senior DE Taye Loud.
Jacksonville is a top tier team in the region, and a competitive game out of Ashville will go a long way to bolstering Ashville’s confidence going forward this season.
Leeds Green Wave (1-1) @ Elmore County (1-0)
An opening victory for the Panthers does not belie the fact that does not have the size or athleticism that Leeds brings to the table.
The Green Wave’s defense will need disciplined eyes this week as it takes on Elmore County’s multiple look offense that lines up in I – formation and mixes in many elements of read/option. The workhorse of the Panthers offense is their big rangy running back (#4) Senior D.J. Patrick, but he is hampered by running behind a physically small offensive line that leaks like a sieve. Leeds will be able to disrupt Elmore County’s offense, but the key will be for the Green Wave to be more physical and bring their opponents down to the turf without the broken arm tackling in previous weeks.
Leeds’ offensive front has the size to get a great push and give running back Jakobi Hunter a few uninterrupted steps before he has to deal with the Panthers’ superior linebackers in seniors (#55) Hayden Bass and (#2) Antwan Cooks. If Leeds’ backs can consistently get to the second level and avoid turnovers, then they will own the field and the clock.
Moody Blue Devils (0-1) vs. St. Clair County Saints (1-1)
This county rivalry suddenly turned from ho-hum into a very exciting matchup over the past weekend. Conventional wisdom would have stated that fifth ranked St. Clair County would make quick work of the Blue Devils, but the Saints showed some vulnerability last week, struggling to get their offense on track, with a turnover in the red zone and only 120 yards total offense, while surrendering 290 rushing yards in their unexpected loss against Cherokee County.
Conversely, Moody’s defense didn’t surrender any points until late in the second quarter against #2 Etowah Co., and allowed only 225 yards against a very high-octane, talented offense. A defense that competed for 48 minutes and surrendered only two touchdowns to Etowah County was a performance few outside of the Blue Devils’ locker room saw coming.
The Saints defense, led by a very talented and tenacious middle linebacker in (#34) Skyler Mizzell, will have to contend with a Moody offense that features three quality running backs in senior Cornelius Voltz, junior (#12) Terrence Moore and the freshman phenom (#22) Nick Burrell. Blue Devils quarterback (#16) Karson Buckner has an effective quick game, but Saints head coach Matt Glover will game plan for that, so Buckner will have to find a way to throw downfield.
The Saints offense runs on a steady diet of ground game featuring running back (#5) Tre Christon. Moody’s best chance to stop Christon will be how middle linebacker (#32) Mason Shockley is able to read what is happening in front of him and fill the gaps that Christon could charge through. The Blue Devils’ defense also must by aware that sophomore quarterback (#8) Cade Golden can pick a team apart through the air if he gets into a groove and is protected in the pocket.
Pell City Panthers (2-0) @ Oxford (2-0)
Pell City has had as good a start as anyone could hope for, winning their first two games in impressive fashion and headed for a showdown that will be the Panthers biggest challenge during the regular season.
Oxford is a ten-foot monster that eats everything it sees. So far this season they have outscored their opponents 63-6, including the dismantling of a very good Gadsden City team last week 35-6. Ranked second in 6A coming into this week, the Yellow Jackets will be an extraordinary challenge for first year coach Wayne Lee.
Pell City’s offense powered by quarterback Mitchell Gossett and running back Darius Garrett will have to contend with Oxford senior linebacker Kendall McCallum, an LSU commit who leads a defense that has thoroughly stifled opponents on the line. McCallum is surrounded by freakishly fast defensive players, which will compel Pell City to play at its highest level of athleticism to compete. The Panthers passing game will want to stay away from Oxford CB Trequon Fegans, who can effectively play on an island and shut down your best receiver.
The Panthers defense has watched game film all week and know that Yellow Jackets running back Tyetus Smith-Lindsey is the primary weapon out of the backfield, with fellow back Jonovan Carlisle getting the ball about ten times per game. Each averages over six yards per carry this season. The Panthers will struggle containing Oxford’s running attack, and if they stack the box, quarterback Trey Higgins beats you downfield with wideout Roc Taylor.
Pell City’s chances will be fleeting and brief, but keeping the game competitive into halftime opens up possibilities for a monumental upset.
Ragland Purple Devils (0-2) @ Donoho (1-1)
Ragland, smarting from two consecutive losses, opens up its regional schedule against a Falcons squad led defensively by the fast and powerful defensive end (#55) Tyler Rigsby. The Purple Devils can exploit Donoho’s defense away from Rigsby, but he has shocking closing speed and can run an opponent down across the field.
The Purple Devils have struggled stopping the run this season, and now will be facing a doozy of a tandem from Donoho in sophomore running back and linebacker (#6) Rod Elston along with running back Dekari Garrett, who at 5’7” and 215 pounds is going to be like trying to tackle a rolling boulder. Elston and Garrett run behind what passes in 1A football as a huge offensive line anchored by senior tackle Grayson Marlowe, a 300 pounder that towers over most anyone across the line.
Ragland’s outside linebackers will also need to contend with senior Tight end (#25) Will Nelson, who is a very effective blocker who also has great hands on short and intermediate passing plays.
Springville Tigers (1-1) @ Sylacauga (2-0)
Turning around from last week’s success and facing an undefeated (and pretty dominant) Sylacauga team on the road will be a daunting task for the Springville Tigers.
The Aggies’ most dynamic player on the offensive side of the ball is (#4) Lew Dale. The senior wide receiver has long play capability, can fly down the field, catch and even throw the ball on occasion.
Springville’s defensive coaching staff earned its pay this week trying figure out how to deal 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 is running back is (#5) Jordan Ridgeway. Other big play offensive weapons are wide receivers Brady Davis and (#6) Malik Wycoff
Sylacauga’s defense is big, mean and in a hurry. It is anchored by two great defensive ends in seniors (#55) Zan Smith and (#7) Kam Cook, backed up by a solid middle linebacker in (#45) Chase Ivey and outside backer (#9) Tory Harris.
Last week we saw a confident Springville offense led by quarterback Austin Hutcheson, who threw accurate fades and slants, as well as run down the field on big plays. That was Ashville, this is Sylacauga. This week’s question is can that Hutcheson magic be duplicated, or will the Aggies be just too much?
Victory Christian Lions (1-0) vs. Gaylesville (1-0)
Victory Christian showed last week that it had some strength and athleticism, with players like Lee Yeager opening up a Fayetteville team and leaving them on the roadside. The Lions now face Gaylesville, who blanked Asbury 34-0 in their opener. This appears to be a game of strength vs. strength, ball control and willpower.
The Trojans have lots of weapons that have to be dealt with. They include the opportunistic RB/LB Derrick Lee, who stripped the football from an opposing runner and returned that fumble for a touchdown against Asbury last week. There is arguably the best player on the field for both teams in senior fullback (#6) Tristan Payne, who will line up in the backfield with speedy (#4) Kaleb Whatley. This is a really impressive offensive backfield, and they will be lined up behind a hefty offensive line led by senior center Lawson Hurley.
Defensively the Lions will have to be a wall against this running attack, yet still be mindful of Gaylesville’s small, shifty quarterback in Brayden Stofdahl, who has a big target peeling off the end of the offensive line in senior tight end Blane Kuykendall in the case that the Lions are able to stop the run.