It's back to region play this week as the state’s high school football teams hit the stretch run of the regular season.

*The drivers’ seat in Class 4A Region 7 is on the line when West Morgan visits Deshler. West Morgan beat Deshler, 28-19, last season but neither team advanced to the playoffs.

Defense is the calling card for West Morgan this season, even though the Rebels also are capable of being explosive offensively. The Rebels have two shutouts, gave up seven points in another game and allowed just 44 points in five games.

Deshler will score points in bunches. Russellville is the only team to slow down the Deshler offense, limiting the Tigers to seven points. In the other five games, Deshler is averaging 50 points a game. The Tigers scored on the final play of the game to beat Colbert County, 36-33, last week.

*You think Handley had the trip to play Anniston circled on the schedule for a while? Last October, Handley fell from the unbeaten ranks and lost the Class 4A No. 1 ranking after Anniston beat the Tigers, 28-27.

This time, both teams are 6-0 heading into the showdown with Handley ranked No. 2 and Anniston coming in at No. 4. Three of Anniston’s wins have come by one score, including last week’s thrilling 30-28 win over Piedmont, who was ranked No. 1 in Class 3A at the time. Handley’s average winning margin is 21 points and it hasn’t had a close game since beating Valley, 22-20, in the season opener.

*Big things are happening at Corner this season. The Yellow Jackets are unbeaten and receiving votes in the Class 4A rankings. Big things don’t come often for the Corner football program. The school’s lone playoff football win came in 2006 and they’ve finished above .500 only five times since that season.

Friday night’s visit from Northside could be the biggest game in years for Corner. The Yellow Jackets are the team in Class 4A Region 5 with an unbeaten region record. Northside is one of four teams with a 2-1 record in region play. Northside is 31-7 in the past three seasons and have finished in double digits in wins during each of those seasons.

*There have been plenty of interesting moments in the football rivalry between Montgomery Catholic and Montgomery Academy. The programs have played each other starting in 1971 and Montgomery Catholic leads the series 31-15-1.

The past two seasons they’ve played each other four times – twice in the regular season and twice in the playoff semifinals. Interestingly, the regular season winner has lost the playoff game both seasons. Both times, the semifinal winner lost the following week in the championship.

All of that is part of the buildup of what should be an interesting game when Montgomery Academy visits Montgomery Catholic on Friday. Montgomery Catholic has been unstoppable this season, outscoring six opponents, 335-42, with the combined score in the last three games 176-0. Montgomery Academy is 3-3 overall and 2-1 in region play.

*At 5-1, Williamson is off to its best start since starting with the same record in 2003. There’s no mystery how the Lions reached this point. They’ve been playing suffocating defense. Williamson gave up 20 points in a one-point overtime victory to begin the season. Since then, the Lions had three shutouts and gave up six points in two games. The only loss was a 6-0 setback to Vigor.

This week, though, the Lions have perhaps its toughest challenge thus far with Ronnie Royal and his Gulf Shores teammates coming to Williamson. Gulf Shores is averaging 35 points per game and the team’s only loss is a 35-28 setback to UMS-Wright.

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