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Here we go with another round of AHSAA playoff games. Class 7A will hold the quarterfinals while every other division will play second round games. We take a look at a key game from each classification.

CLASS 7A

Hewitt-Trussville at Hoover: Defenses win championships. Hoover is evidence of that after capturing the Region 3 championship. We’ll soon see if defense wins state championships. The Bucs’ defense has been sensational this season, allowing no more than 17 points in a regular season game this season. Bob Jones scored 19 points on Hoover last week, but the Bucs still won by 26 points.

Hoover and Hewitt-Trussville met in the regular season with the Bucs coming away with a 17-7 victory. The Huskies’ high-powered offense managed just over 200 yards in the game, and the lone touchdown came on a 1-yard run by quarterback Peyton Floyd. The teams have played 25 times overall with Hoover winning 21 of those meetings.

CLASS 6A

Saraland at Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa: Can Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa win another game without standout quarterback Ethan Crawford? It certainly will be a test against another one of the top teams in Class 6A. Crawford, a Southern Miss commit, tore his ACL late in the season. Sophomore backup Bryson Kimbrough performed well in the 38-0 playoff opening win over Calera. He’s leading a team that is 22-3 under head coach Jamie Mitchell, who is in his second season. The Patriots (11-0) outscored their opponents, 194-47.

Saraland (10-1) features sophomore wide receiver Ryan Williams, an Alabama commitment, and a host of other big-time players. The Spartans lone loss this season was a 27-26 setback to unbeaten Theodore. Saraland’s 2021 season ended with a 24-16 loss to Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa in the third round. In 2017, Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa beat Saraland, 34-27, in a second round game. The only other meeting between the schools came in 2014 when Saraland beat the Patriots, 35-20, in the third round.  

CLASS 5A

Moody at Arab: Both teams in are in the midst of what could be the greatest season in school history. Arab (10-1) has advanced to the second round in the playoffs just twice in school history and never won a second-round game. The only time that Moody (10-1) made it past the second round was in 2004. The Blue Devils lost to Deshler, 31-0, in the third round that season.

This Arab team is led by quarterback Aidan Cox, running back Drake Franklin and an outstanding senior class. However, it was a youngster, sophomore Drew Puccio, that had six catches for 100 yards with two touchdowns, threw a touchdown pass and returned a kick for a touchdown in a 54-14 first round win over East Limestone. The Knights outscored opponents, 433-127, thus far.

Moody has a dynamic offense and shutdown defense. The Blue Devils, who outscored opponents, 469-161, are led by dual threat quarterback Cole McCarty and Arkansas commit wide receiver Damion Dozier. The only loss this season for Moody was a 14-13 setback to Leeds.

CLASS 4A

Priceville at Oneonta: Two of the best running backs in the state – Oneonta’s Fluff Bothwell and Priceville’s Mason Cartee – are featured in this one. Bothwell has 2,476 yards and 34 touchdowns this season. He rushed for 345 yards and six touchdowns in a first-round win over Haleyville. Cartee has 1,566 yards rushing with 22 touchdowns and is one of the better defensive players for the Bulldogs. He had two rushing touchdowns, a receiving touchdown and a pick-six in a first- round win over Central-Tuscaloosa. Priceville linebacker Jake Langlois was credited with 26 tackles in that game.

Priceville is 11-0, which is a school record for wins. The Bulldogs had the first 10-0 mark in school history and set a record with 476 points. Priceville coach Chris Foster is 35-10 in his four seasons at the school. Oneonta advanced to the state championship game last season and is 9-1 this season. The Redskins outscored opponents, 396-185.

CLASS 3A

Piedmont at Colbert County: It’s Colbert County’s turn to face Piedmont quarterback Jack Hayes, who has put together one of the best athletic careers in AHSAA history. Hayes’ career numbers include 13,774 total yards, 204 total touchdowns accounted for, 10,462 yards passing and 153 passing touchdowns. His objective now is to help the Bulldogs continue an amazing playoff run. Since 2015, the Bulldogs have played in the championship game five times, winning in four of those appearances, and they lost in the semifinals twice.

Colbert County has made 11 consecutive playoff appearances but haven’t advanced past the second round since being bounced by Piedmont, 14-0, in the third round of the 2015 postseason. This season, the Indians are riding a five-game winning streak coming into Friday night.

CLASS 2A

Tuscaloosa Academy at Lexington: Chances are good that Tuscaloosa Academy is the only AHSAA team that has never lost an AHSAA playoff game. The Knights, a longtime member of AISAA, moved into the AHSAA this season. They were 8-2 in the regular season, finished second behind Aliceville in Region 5 and knocked off Locust Fork, 42-28, in the first round of the playoffs. Head coach Josh Wright won four state championships as the head coach at Bessemer Academy before coming to Tuscaloosa Academy last season.

Lexington is making its 26th playoff appearance but is in the postseason for only the second time in the last six years. Last week’s 49-14 win over North Sand Mountain was just the Golden Bears third playoff win since 2008. Lexington (9-2), won the Region 8 championship, marking the school’s first region title since 2009, and set a school record with 451 points.  

CLASS 1A

Pickens County at Meek: Meek must beat Pickens County to extend the best season in program history. Meek has never beaten Pickens County on the football field. The teams have met seven times with Pickens County winning every one of those games. The teams were in the same region the past four seasons. Pickens County won those games by a combined, 171-53. This is only the second time the teams have met in the playoffs.

Meek has been dominant this season. The Tigers (11-0) had just one game finish with a one-score deficit – a 24-17 win over Colbert Heights. Meek beat Cedar Bluff, 46-6, in the first round. Pickens County (8-3) lost to Lynn, 21-20 in overtime, in the game that decided the Region 5 championship. The Tornados are in the playoffs for the 18th consecutive season.  Pickens County head coach Michael Williams, a former University of Alabama and NFL tight end, is 50-18 in his five seasons and 14-4 in the playoffs during that time. His team played in the state championship game in 2020 and lost in the semifinals the other three full seasons.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email steve.irvine@1819news.com.

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