Last Week’s scores
Victory Christian 40 Appalachian 12
White Plains 32 Ashville 20
Lincoln 42 Leeds 21
Sylacauga 21 Moody 14
Central Clay Co. 42 Springville 6
Gardendale 41 Pell City 21
Talladega County Cen. 22 Ragland 0
Mortimer Jordan 28 St. Clair Co. 3
Ashville Bulldogs (1-3) @ Oneonta Redskins (2-1)
The Bulldogs travel to Oneonta this week to take on an explosive aerial assault. Senior quarterback (#10) Taveris Hill has been shredding defensive secondaries this season with the help of 6’4” Troy commitment senior Jaden Kent. Kent is projected to be an all-state receiver this season, and Ashville’s secondary has struggled against good passing attacks. If Ashville double teams Kent, it leaves 6’5” senior wideout (#3) Brandon Howard and 6’6” receiver (#13) Andrew McAlpine in one-on-one matches with Ashville’s shorter cornerbacks. The Redskins also feature a very effective running attack led by junior powerhouse (#14) David Hall.
The Redskins do have a suspect defense and can be scored upon, evidenced by last week’s blow out inflicted by Hokes Bluff who routed Oneonta 49-7. Except for senior defensive ends (#52) Ethan Faust and (#23) Jake Hodge, the rest of the Redskins defense has shown itself to by young and inexperienced. The Bulldogs will need to lean on their running game for long sustained drives to keep Oneonta’s offensive weapons on the bench and stay competitive. If Ashville continues to be plagued by turnovers and three-and-outs on offense, Friday will be a long night.
Moody Blue Devils (1-2) @ Central Clay County Volunteers (2-1)
After the third week of the season, a dividing line has emerged in the Class 5A Region 5 standings. Barring any drastic changes to personnel or fortune, the projected playoff teams in the region come November will be Sylacauga and Mortimer Jordan, with the two remaining spots being fought over by Central Clay County, Moody and Center Point. The Blue Devils competed very well with Sylacauga last week, leading throughout the game before succumbing to a last minute Sylacauga score. That game showed that Moody is in a position to improve every week and be playoff ready by the end of the season.
Central Clay provides another playoff caliber test. The Volunteers team on both sides of the ball are stocked with big, huge guys who can play. Offensively Sylacauga 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.
Moody’s prolific running attack led by AL.com Player of Week Two Rashad Clark will have to be firing on all cylinders because Clay County’s stifling pass defense will likely hamstring Blue Devils quarterback Karson Buckner. 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. Moody’s big offensive line 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.
Pell City Panthers (2-2) vs. Huffman Vikings (0-3)
A visit by Huffman to Pete Rich stadium could not come at a better time. After Pell City’s brilliant start, it has stumbled over the past two weeks against some of the high quality opponents the Panthers share in their region. Huffman may provide a badly needed opportunity for a regional win and a boost of confidence.
The Vikings may be winless, but they still have a lot of very talented players on their team. Huffman’s offense is led by Senior quarterback (#10) Tacoby Trammell, a four year starter who has mastered his offense, calling plays at the line of scrimmage and can operate at a blistering pace, confusing and confounding defenses. Trammell’s favorite target is senior slotback (#1) Anthony Wiggins, who stretches the field on option runs, speed sweeps, and quick routes that sets up Trammell’s short passing game. The Vikings best receiver is 6’3” senior Caleb Tillman, who is very dangerous catching outside shoulder fades and 50/50 balls. Trammell and Wiggins will share the running duties with the Vikings’ strong, solid running back (#5) Jakobie Smith.
Pell City’s balanced offensive attack will be well served to get after Huffman’s defense immediately. The Vikings have some strong defenders against the pass led by cornerback (#22) Courtney Blakely, but their run defense has been exposed repeatedly this season. Ball discipline and the sustained, grinding, ground-centered drives the Panthers are known for should be Huffman’s kryptonite this week.
Ragland Purple Devils (0-4) vs. Victory Christian Lions (3-0)
Within the county is a Class 1A matchup between two teams going in opposite directions. So far this season Ragland has been outscored 106-19 in four games. Conversely, Victory Christian has outscored their opponents 80-27 in three games.
The game plan for Coach Mike Holliday should be pretty straightforward. The Purple Devils defense has a terrible time trying to contain the run, and the Lions are perfectly set up to exploit that. Victory Christian linemen Cage Jackson, Griffin Staples and PJ Holman should be able to gash open big, roomy holes for standout running back (#1) Lee Yeager. Mix in a little of their passing game and the Lions should get the scoreboard turning.
As for Ragland’s offense, the running production of LaDarious Spikes continues to challenge defenses. Unfortunately Spikes’ consistent play doesn’t cover up the fact that Ragland’s quarterback is under pressure most of the time and the team struggles to find the end zone after getting deep into their opponents’ territory. When those problems are fixed and Ragland starts scoring, things can turn around this season. Until then, the Purple Devils will be in the role of underdog, at least for one more week.
Springville Tigers (1-3) @ Munford Lions (0-4)
The Munford Lions are a very strange team to figure out. Defensively they have some excellent personnel. Senior linebacker/running back (#7) Pernell Mitchell is an outstanding football player who has captured the attention of several FCS and lower-tier FBS programs. Junior outside linebacker (#6) Rodney Groce Jr. and cornerback (#4) Dreke Dorman have also generated buzz about how their on-field play can translate to a future in college football. One would think that a team with this kind of defensive talent would shut people down – but scores and stats do not lie. Having been outscored 135-24 so far this season, the Lions have been doing themselves in with flat, ineffective offensive production and a skilled defense exhausted by the excessive time and punishment meted out on the field.
Springville has just completed two games against the cream of their region. Now, the Tigers have an opportunity for a region win and it all falls on their defense. Springville cannot allow Munford’s anemic offense to get any traction. If that is accomplished, Springville’s offense can bring their hard hat and lunch box – and just outwork the Lions defense with their running game to secure a road win.
St. Clair County Saints (1-3) @ Center Point Eagles (1-2)
The Fighting Saints travel to Center Point this week catching an Eagles squad that has been getting stronger as the season has progressed, illustrated by a narrow loss against Mortimer Jordan in week two and a 32-0 drubbing over Munford last week.
Center Point’s defense is rock-solid, led by two talented safeties in senior (#1) Leboise Deru and junior (#9) Leon Silmon. Joining the fight with these seasoned veterans are the young guys on the Eagles defense who are also very effective. Two sophomores currently being recruited by FBS college programs are linebacker/running back (#8) Noah Steen along with cornerback (#10) Robert Blanco. Considering how the Fighting Saints have fallen a bit offensively this season, this Eagles defense presents a number of challenges going into this week.
St. Clair’s defense will have to step it up in the secondary this week because the Eagles have really balanced out their attack over the past couple of weeks. Senior quarterback (#5) Kendall Calloway has found his mid-season groove, having run all over Munford last week. The Saints will be challenged to press into the backfield and contain Calloway without allowing him to hit his downfield threats like junior wideout (#2) RJ Orr.
Leeds Green Wave (1-3) Bye week