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Plenty is at stake for Hoover and Thompson when they meet on the football field Friday night. If recent history is any indication, it’s still hard to look at this game as anything more than a playoff appetizer.

Since 2017, the teams have met during the regulation in a game that goes a long way toward determining the Class 7A Region 3 champion. In each of those seasons, the teams have also met in the Class 7A semifinals.

Is this yet another year that Thompson and Hoover meet in the game that determines the North representative in the Class 7A championship game?

Time will tell on that, but we do know that the Region 3 winner will come from this matchup on Friday. Thompson, winners of seven consecutive games since starting the season 0-2, will play host to a Hoover team that carries an eight-game winning streak into the game.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see this be a low-scoring, grind-it-out type of game. Both teams have offenses capable of putting up points, but the defenses are outstanding. Hoover allowed 82 points in nine games. Thompson allowed 62 points in the two losses and have given up 64 points total in the seven games since.

While most of the Region 3 attention is directed to Alabaster, there is also a playoff-deciding game going on. Tuscaloosa County plays host to Vestavia Hills with the winner advancing as the No. 4 seed from the region. Tuscaloosa County has not advanced to the playoffs since 2014. Vestavia Hills made a playoff appearance in 2019 but that was its lone postseason visit since 2015.  

*In some ways, it’s two teams looking at a mirror image when Priceville visits Randolph on Friday night with the Class 4A Region 8 title on the line. Both have high-scoring offensive attacks and can also win with defense. Both won 10 games and lost in the second round of the playoffs last season. Randolph has never won a region title. Priceville’s lone region title came in 2015.

Priceville has one of the top running backs in Class 4A in Mason Cartee, who rushed for more than 2,000 yards last season. However, Priceville coach Chris Foster, who has a 33-10 overall record and is in his fourth season, chose to spread the football around this season. Cartee still has 1,221 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns but he shares the load with the big play trio of Jaylen Mosely, Blitz Clemons and Xander Gaines. Quarterback Jackson Prickett is also a playmaker when needed and linebacker Jake Langlois was all-state a year ago.

Randolph’s high-scoring offensive attack is triggered by quarterback Andrew Hunter, who has thrown for a state-leading 2,508 yards with 32 touchdowns and two interceptions. Running back/safety Nic Strong, the program’s career leader in all-purpose yards, will play on Saturdays and wide receiver Grayson Davenport has 55 catches and 12 touchdowns.

*After a season filled with lopsided wins, the top two teams in Class 6A Region 1 will meet when No. 1 ranked Saraland visits third-ranked Theodore.

Saraland outscored its first eight opponents, 351-109, with a 35-24 win over Spanish Fort being the smallest margin of victory. The scary thing for Saraland opponents is the Spartans are a young team with sophomores K.J. Lacey, Ryan Williams and Santae Williams leading the way.

Theodore outscored eight opponents, 291-71, with a 29-21 win over Spanish Fort and a 10-point win over Class 7A Opelika. Running back Brayden Jenkins is the offensive leader and 6-foot-5 tight end/wide receiver Kamarean Johnson recently committed to Vanderbilt.

*Nobody on Montgomery Catholic’s schedule, thus far, has come close to slowing down the Knights. Nine opponents have gone down by a combined score of 523-47.

Nobody on Andalusia’s schedule has come to close to slowing down the Bulldogs. Nine opponents have gone down by a combined, 428-105.

Do you see where this is going? On Friday night, Class 4A No. 1 Montgomery Catholic visits No. 3 Andalusia with the region title on the line.

Montgomery Catholic is led by quarterback Caleb McCreary and Auburn commit running back Jeremiah Cobb. Montgomery Catholic coach Kirk Johnson took over the program in 2021 and is 22-1 at the school.

Andalusia is coached by Trent Taylor, who is in his 35th season as a high school head coach. He’s led Andalusia to the playoff semifinals in five of the past six seasons. Quarterback Jack Lathrop has thrown 22 touchdowns with three interceptions and J’Marion Burnette has over 1,000 yards rushing.

*A pair of ranked teams will decide the Class 1A Region 1 championship when No. 9 Millry takes the 30-minute trip to play at No. 2 Leroy. Both teams are 5-0 in region play.

Leroy is led by 6-foot-3, 270-pound lineman Bryston Dixon and 6-foot-4, 210-pound defensive end/tight end Malcolm Pugh. The Bears outscored their opponents, 272-39, and have four shutouts. They were 2-8 last season but playoff semifinalists the previous two seasons.

Millry hasn’t won a region title since 2007 but have made the playoffs eight consecutive seasons. This year’s team is 8-1 and the lone loss was a 20-14 setback to Class 1A No. 3 Linden. Millry coach Shane Hendry, who took over the program in 2021, is 16-5 overall.

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