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AHSAA SEMIFINALS

CLASS 6A

Saraland (12-1) at Theodore (13-0): Can someone check, real quick, to see if that Saraland quarterfinal game against Homewood has ended yet? It’s hard to imagine a better, or more draining game, than Saraland’s 57-56 overtime triumph over Homewood. The Spartans (12-1) need to turn the page from that epic game with undefeated Theodore waiting in the semifinals.

Speaking of thrilling games, Theodore (13-0) beat Saraland, 27-26, earlier this season. The Bobcats rallied from a nine-point fourth quarter deficit in that game and emerged with the victory when Miguel Frias hit a 25-yard field goal with 1:19 left. Theodore running back Brayden Jenkins rushed for more than 200 yards in that game.

Theodore plays its first semifinal game in school history on Friday. Saraland is trying to get back into the championship game for the first time since losing to Pinson Valley in 2018.

Mountain Brook at Muscle Shoals: Muscle Shoals (11-2) has been sensational on defense in the playoffs, allowing 20 total points in three games. Last week, the Trojans shut down a potent Gardendale offense in a 38-7 victory.

Mountain Brook (11-2) also has one of the top defensive units in the state. But, the Spartans had to outscore a potent Hartselle offense last Friday in a 49-30 victory.

The only times these teams met in the past came in 2020 when Mountain Brook beat Muscle Shoals, 38-7, in a first round playoff game.

CLASS 5A

Charles Henderson at Faith Academy: Charles Henderson (11-1) moved into the semifinals by knocking off top-ranked UMS Wright. Faith Academy (11-2) advanced by avenging an early season loss to Gulf Shores. Charles Henderson hasn’t played in the semifinal since 2013. Faith Academy is playing a semifinal game for the second time in three seasons, but the Rams have never won an AHSAA playoff game.

Quarterback Jarrett Daughtry and Christian Burnette spark the Faith Academy offense. The Rams also win with defense. The Rams have four shutouts and held four more opponents to seven points or less. Charles Henderson quarterback Parker Adams is outstanding and wide receiver Jywon Boyd is one of the most athletic players in the state.

Pleasant Grove at Ramsay at Legion Field: Round 2 for these teams. Ramsay stole a victory over Pleasant Grove earlier this season when defensive end Caleb Patterson ripped the ball out of quarterback Eric Handley’s grip and raced for the winning score in the final seconds. Rest assured that the Spartans remember that evening.

Ramsay’s defense is built on speed and playmaking ability. Linebacker QB Reese is a good as any defender in the state. He played a big role last week in the Rams shutting down Leeds in the second half of the 27-19 Ramsay win. The only time that Pleasant Grove was held below 35 points this season came in the 21-14 loss to Ramsay. Pleasant Grove, which advances with a 41-38 double overtime win over Arab, is searching for its fourth consecutive trip to the state championship game.  

CLASS 4A

Andalusia at Montgomery Catholic: Before last week, no team was able to stay close to a Montgomery Catholic team that averages 51 points per game and hasn’t given up more than 23 points in a game. The Knights (13-0) held off a good Handley team, 21-14, in last week’s quarterfinal game. Before that, the closest game the Knights had was a 45-23 win over Andalusia (12-1).

Both teams lost in the semifinals last season. Montgomery Catholic played in the championship game in 2020. Andalusia moved into the semifinals this season with a thrilling 35-28 win over Anniston.

Oneonta at Cherokee County: The key, obviously, for a physical Cherokee County team, is stopping Oneonta running back Fluff Bothwell. Easier said than done. Bothwell, a physical 6-foot, 210-pound bruiser, who also mixes in ‘outrun you’ ability, had 315 rushing yards and five touchdowns in a quarterfinal win previously unbeaten Deshler last week. Bothwell, who seemingly produces 300 yard games weekly, has more than 2,900 rushing yards this season.

Cherokee County (11-2) did a nice job of limiting Bothwell’s success in an early season 17-14 loss to Oneonta (11-1). But it was a pair of Bothwell touchdowns, the second on a 70-yard pass reception, that lifted Oneonta to the win.

CLASS 3A

St. James at Mobile Christian: Is there a more unlikely story than Mobile Christian? It’s not that the Leopards (6-7) aren’t talented enough to still be playing. They are, after all, a team that is 10-3 on the field with two of those losses in overtime. However, four forfeits earlier this season put the Leopards’ ability to reach the playoffs in jeopardy. They won three in a row to end the regular season and three more in the playoffs to reach this point.

St. James (11-2) is making its first appearance in the semifinals. Junior quarterback KJ Jackson is outstanding. He’s thrown for more than 2,300 yards overall and had four touchdown passes in a quarterfinal win over Thomasville.

Sylvania (10-3) at Piedmont (11-2): Can Sylvania find a way to knock off a Piedmont team what was 33 points better than the Rams earlier this season? Piedmont opened region play with a 40-7 win at Sylvania on Sept. 2.

Quarterback Jack Hayes, who could very well be the Mr. Football favorite at this point, scored four rushing touchdowns last week as Piedmont overcame a scoreless first half to beat Gordo, 27-14.

CLASS 2A

Highland Home at B.B. Comer: Will Pouncey has his Highland Home team, which is 12-1, in the semifinals for the second consecutive season. Adam Fossett has his B.B. Comer team in the semifinals for the first time since advancing to the championship game in 1995. One team’s special season will come to a close on Friday.

B.B. Comer running back Kamore Harris has rushed for 1,300 yards and 15 touchdowns and is one of the team’s top defenders for the Tigers (11-2). Highland Home defensive lineman Keldric Faulk, a 6-foot-6, 243-pound senior, is a Florida State commit.

Pisgah at Fyffe: Fyffe is a high school football machine. The Red Devils (13-0) have beaten three playoff opponents by a combined, 125-21. They haven’t allowed more than 14 points in a game this season. Pisgah (11-2) dropped a 40-6 decision to Fyffe on Oct. 14.

CLASS 1A

Leroy at Millry: Millry (12-1) hasn’t lost since the second game of the season, a 20-14 setback to Linden. The Wildcats beat Leroy, 36-14, on Oct. 21 in a game that decided the region championship. Sophomore quarterback Daylon Edmunds has accounted for 41 touchdowns for the Millry squad that is making the school’s first semifinal appearance.

Leroy (11-1) advanced with a 42-14 win over Brantley. Quarterback Brayden Huebner accounted for five touchdowns in the win. The Bears are making their 14th appearance in the semifinals. They played in the semifinals in 2017, 2019 and 2020 with 2017 marking the lone season in that span that they advanced to the championship game. Leroy did not make the playoffs last season.

Coosa Christian at Pickens County: Two teams with distinctly different AHSAA playoff histories get together in this one. Pickens County (10-3) is playoff tested, playing in its 83rd playoff game as a program. Head coach Michael Williams, a former University of Alabama and NFL tight end, returned to coach his alma mater five years ago. He’s led all five teams to the semifinals and his 2020 team played in the state championship game.

Coosa Christian, which joined the AHSAA in 2005, was 0-5 in playoff games before this season. The Conquerors (9-4) started this season with two consecutive losses and were 2-4 after six games. They’ve won seven consecutive games to reach this point.

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

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