Region play gets into full swing this week, which means the run for the playoffs begins. Let’s take a look at some notable games this week.
*On paper, it appears Thompson High sits in an uncomfortable spot with losses to elite teams from Georgia and Tennessee to begin the season. It’s the first time the Warriors lost the first two games of the season since 2014 when they finished 0-11. The only time a Mark Freeman-coached Thompson team lost two games in a row came in 2015 with back-to-back setbacks to Vestavia Hills and Hewitt-Trussville.
The silver lining, which isn’t hard to spot, is that neither of those losses hinders Thompson in its search for a fourth consecutive state championship. The quest for that begins tonight when Thompson travels to face a rejuvenated Vestavia Hills program that is led by first-year head coach Robert Evans. The Rebels have not beaten Thompson since 2015.
*Enterprise lost its last six games against Phenix City Central and dropped 11 of the past 12 vs. the Red Devils. The Wildcats certainly aren’t the only program to struggle against Central but they need to find a way to break through. Enterprise is in its first season under head coach Ben Blackmon and has a pair of talented running backs in Mykel Johnson and Amare Griffin.
On Friday night, the Red Devils play host to Enterprise with Central entering as the No. 1 ranked team in the state.
*Leather helmets were the thing when Hartselle and Cullman first started playing football against each other. The teams will meet for the 101st time on Friday night at Hartselle. It’s almost a dead-even series with Hartselle holding a slight, 49-47-4 advantage. Cullman has won two of the past three, but Hartselle is 7-3 over the last 10 meetings.
Both teams are 2-0 heading into Friday’s game with Hartselle coming in as the No. 9 ranked Class 6A team in the state.
*Sparkman burst out of the gates with a 77-9 win over Hazel Green and a 42-0 whitewash of Huffman. Sixth-year head coach Laron White’s teams have lost to Hoover in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs in four of the past five years. Obviously, the playoffs are still in the distance but perhaps the Senators can work their way to a first-round game against someone other than Hoover.
Sparkman begins play in Class 7A Region 4 play on the road against an Austin team that opened the season with a pair of losses.
*Piedmont, last season’s Class 3A state champion, came up short in the 2022 season opener, losing to Cherokee County, 21-14. Yet state sportswriters still kept the Bulldogs at the top of the Class 3A ranking. Nine of the 20 voters gave Piedmont No. 1 votes and the Bulldogs easily outdistanced Winfield at the top of the poll.
The Bulldogs have an interesting game on Friday against Sylvania, which is just outside the Top 10. Sylvania lost to Piedmont, 40-20, in a Class 3A first-round playoff game last season and now the teams are in the same region. Piedmont is the host team for Friday’s game.
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