Last Week’s Scores
Ragland 56 Appalachian 7
Etowah 8 Pell City 6
Hoke’s Bluff 52 Ashville 0
Talladega 50 Leeds 7
Munford 21 Moody 7
Center Point 54 Springville 14
Sylacauga 44 St. Clair Co. 13
Winterboro 30 Victory Christian 14
Ashville Bulldogs (1-5) vs. Cherokee County Warriors (2-4)
Ashville travels to Cherokee County to face a team that is much better than what its record indicates. Warrior quarterback Caden Hubbard runs a very effective spread offense, and at 6’3” and 185 pounds, he is an imposing presence in the Warriors’ backfield. Hubbard possesses a great arm that delivers on intermediate pass routes and he is quick to run out of the pocket. Hubbard also plays defense, accounting for 65 tackles and six quarterback sacks last season.
Hubbard will be protected by Cherokee’s big O-line anchored by senior tackles Will McKinney and Chase Bailey. Defensively the Saints’ secondary will want to put their best athlete on Hubbard’s favorite target, wide receiver Julian Latty.
Ashville’s running attack has struggled to find consistency so far this season, which cannot be allowed to happen this week. Cherokee County’s opponents have found a lot of success running through the off-guard holes, and the Bulldogs will need to replicate that strategy. Ashville’s offensive line will have to contend with senior noseguard Clark Oliphant and his 300+ pound frame, but the Warriors are vulnerable of being gashed on the outer edges of their defensive line. On passing downs, Ashville’s coaches should be aware of the very effective free safety Austin Pruett, but the Bulldogs should still find the Warriors secondary vulnerable and should be able to effectively throw downfield.
Leeds Green Wave (1-5) vs. Holtville Bulldogs (4-2)
If Leeds is looking for a turning point this season, it may be hard-pressed to find it this week against a very good Holtville team. The Bulldogs have quite a few talented players, starting with their electrifying running back (#1) Jadarius Carter, who has torn up defenses with multiple 100+ yard rushing performances this year. When Carter needs a respite, Holtville doesn’t miss a beat because Carter’s brother (#7) Jaderick Carter picks up where Jadarius leaves off. The Carter brothers are bolstered with teammate (#22) Alexander Gibbons, a bruising fullback who loves to run into the teeth of his opponents.
Holtville’s relentless running attack is tempered by quarterback (#4) Braxton Buck who is very effective with his play-action passes built off of the Bulldogs’ running game. His favorite target is (#11) Dajon Reeves.
Leeds offense must not be distracted or deterred by Holtville’s shifting defense, which gives a lot of looks and loves to zone blitz on third down. One standout player on the defense is (#23) Broc Breeman.
Holtville is looking to lock down a regional win this week to secure a home game in the first week of the upcoming playoffs. The Bulldogs are hungry and at home, which will make the Green Wave’s challenge this week all the more daunting.
Moody Blue Devils (1-5) @ Springville Tigers (2-5)
A very intriguing county rivalry comes to Springville this week with Moody’s Run-Pass-Option attack going up against Springville’s spread offense.
Springville’s offense has grown up quite a bit as the season has progressed. Tigers’ quarterback Austin Hutcheson is now a much more versatile offensive weapon, developing a groove in the pass game with his collection of receivers led by the talented wideout Cameron Bonner. Moody will likely put their best cornerback, senior Jordan Maxwell, on Bonner – which would be a fascinating matchup of strength vs. strength.
Springville has also retooled its running game, giving the ball to the tiny, but very elusive tailback Kobye Payton. Hutcheson and company are going up against a hungry and angry Blue Devils defense who are overdue for a victory. For Springville to have success, they have to establish a running game against formidable Blue Devils like linebacker Mason Shockley and defensive end Joel McCormick.
Moody’s offense bristles with weapons, but is still a work in progress. The Blue Devils have a very effective offensive line that opens up holes for their feature back, senior (#3) Rashad Clark who is nearing 1,000 yards for the season. If Moody’s quarterback (#16) Karson Buckner can pull the trigger and fully implement their RPO gameplan, few teams would be able to stop them.
Springville’s defense led by Pearson Baldwin and Noah Lee should key on Moody’s running attack and force Buckner to beat the Tigers through the air. At this point in the season Springville’s offense is a bit more balanced. That fact along with playing at home may be enough to overcome Moody’s physical superiority.
Pell City Panthers (2-4) vs. Clay-Chalkville Cougars (5-1)
Pell City’s brutal schedule continues with a home stand against Clay-Chalkville, ranked 5th in Class 6A in the latest ASWA poll. The Panthers physical fitness will be tested this week as they go up against a rotating cast of talented tailbacks that stay fresh while they stay relentless. Senior running backs (#7) Drew Heller, (#32) Demarcus Burris and Courtney Braxton stretch defenses while four star Alabama recruit DJ Dale brings his 323 pound defensive tackle frame into short yardage situations and is an unstoppable battering ram at fullback. The young man that directs the offense is their very capable quarterback Willie Miller.
Defensively the Cougars are grown men with attitude. Dale has proven himself as the best defensive tackle in the state, and is supported by a very physical linebacking corps in their 4-4 base defense. The Cougars’ secondary is also first-rate, featuring one of the best safety duos in the state in Jaylin Mack and Levert Jefferson.
Pell City’s performance last week against Etowah showed that the Panthers can compete deep into a game with top-notch opponents. Clay-Chalkville’s 2018 team is a nationally respected program. Panther nation should cross its fingers and hope for the best.
Ragland Purple Devils (3-4) vs. Valley Head Tigers (1-5)
The Purple Devils are clicking just at the right time as their make-or-break regional games begin this week with Valley Head. The Tigers enjoyed an opening game victory before skidding into a five game losing streak.
Ragland’s defense needs to jam the box and contain Valley Head’s sophomore quarterback (#7) Jordan Burt and his double wing – single back offense. If Burt isn’t handing the ball to his big freshman running back (#33) Roger McMahon, he is pulling the ball and running it himself. Valley Head’s team is young and developing under coach Heath Vincent, so the passing game is of little threat. Jamming the wings and playing press-man on their single receiver set should be plenty to neutralize any vertical threat Valley Head may bring.
Ragland can get one step closer to a playoff berth by doing two things on offense – feeding the ball to their stud running back LaDarius Spikes and avoid silly penalties that has taken away many big plays by the Purple Devils’ offense. Executing those two simple tasks should take care of Valley Head and get Ragland to .500.
St. Clair County Saints (1-5) @ Central Clay County Volunteers (3-3)
Once more the Saints face a regional powerhouse when they face Central Clay stocked with FBS-caliber grown men. The Volunteers team on both sides of the ball are stocked with big, huge guys who can play. Offensively Central Clay deploys a very effective group of running backs in an option attack. Junior QB (#10) Javon Wood is a very effective option runner 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 flashy (though small) scat back who gets lost in all the motion commotion of Central Clay’s offensive attack.
The tallest challenge to the Saints offense will be its passing game because Clay County’s stifling pass defense will likely disrupt Saints quarterback Cade Golden. All season long Clay County has had cornerbacks (#2) Paul Garrett and (#17) Anthony Valdes 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. St. Clair’s running game should have some success with Central Clay’s first level, but its linebacking corps of seniors (#4) DeWayne Garrett, (#26) Tyler Staples and junior (#21) JD McNealey are as good as they come.
Victory Christian Lions (3-3) vs. Spring Garden Panthers (5-1)
Victory Christian is a frustrating, dumbfounding team that has been difficult to read all season. Some weeks they look like spectacular world beaters, while on other Friday nights they stall and sputter. For this Friday the former needs to show up because the Lions playoff hopes may rest on an upset victory over favored Spring Garden.
It won’t be easy – Spring Garden has some skill players that have frequently burned defenses with big yardage plays. Senior quarterback (#12) Luke Ivey is a dual threat talent who has a great target in Senior wide receiver (#81) Elijah Petty, who plays with passion yet runs crisp, disciplined routes that creates separation on virtually every play. Bolen’s running option is bolstered by a great surprise in their backfield with sophomore running back (#3) Weston Kirk, who has improved rapidly this season and has become a formidable weapon.
Teams in 1A have to play both ways, and the talent on the Panthers offense also plays a very effective defense led by Senior linebacker (#21) Lucky Bolen, who will get into the Lions’ backfield and pressure Lions quarterback Pate Cheatwood. The Lions need to keep their head and get their talented running back Lee Yeager the space he needs to get the ball moving down the field and get into the end zone.