Madison Academy is adjusting well with their move to Class 4A, and take on a bit of an underdog in Hokes Bluff, while Handley is the new king of Region 3 as they take on the new king of Region 1 in Andalusia.
Who will join our first Super 7 pairing with McGill-Toolen and Hoover in Class 7A?
Here is the JoxPreps preview and staff picks for the Class 4A semifinals.
Handley at Andalusia
by Aaron Daniel
Andalusia has been a terror since their Week 3 loss to UMS-Wright. The Bulldogs have won by an average of 41.2 to 8.1. This past Friday, Andalusia held the Tallassee Tigers to just 65 yards in the first half of a 51-7 blowout. The offense is led by running back Jamal Hourel and quarterback Ethan Wilson. Hourel finished with 112 yards on 10 carries with two touchdowns while Wilson ran and threw for a score.
Handley is now on an 11-game winning streak after an 0-2 start to the season. Larry Strain has the Tigers in familiar winning territory once again, and it’s been their ability to be consistent offensively and finish games that has them a region title and one game from a state championship. Handley’s last win came on the road over Thomasville, 36-16 behind Alvin Brown’s two pick-six interceptions. The Tiger defense held Thomasville to just 34 yards in first half of the win.
Andalusia is a clear favorite in a game of two good offenses because of their defensive numbers. Handley’s best bet will be to have a similar defensive performance to their quarterfinal game with Thomasville. Turnovers and even a defensive score or two can lead Handley to a win. However, I’m not betting on it. Give me the Bulldogs.
Aaron’s Pick: Andalusia
J.D. Cowart’s Pick: Andalusia
Jon Lunceford’s Pick: Andalusia
Jacob Bunn’s Pick: Andalusia
John SaBerre’s Pick: Andalusia
Madison Academy at Hokes Bluff
by Jon Lunceford
What has gotten into the Eagles? Hokes Bluff has channeled the spirit of the 2004 team that won a 3A state title. In the regular season, they were a combined 10 points away from a 6-1 region record and a possible home game in the first round. Instead, Hokes Bluff finished fourth and had to do things the hard way. They’ve won over two region champions and a two seed in Haleyville, North Jackson, and Cherokee County to get here. The Eagles will look to junior quarterback Landon Johnson to lead them to what would be a monumental win.
Why monumental? Because Madison Academy stands in the way. You know Madison Academy, the program that has been a staple of Alabama high school football over the last decade with three straight state titles from 2012 to 2014. This is the first year for the program in Class 4A, and while it hasn’t been perfect with three losses in the regular season, they’ve gotten back to a place they’re very familiar with. The Mustangs have outscored their three playoff opponents 112 to 20.
This is the ultimate mismatch with Madison Academy’s talent level against Hokes Bluff. But the Eagles have grit and heart along with home-field advantage. This will take limited mistakes from Hokes Bluff while playing the solid defense that has gotten them to the semifinals. In the end, Madison Academy seems to be too much for the Eagles and I’ll play it safe.
Aaron Daniel’s Pick: Madison Academy
J.D. Cowart’s Pick: Madison Academy
Jon Lunceford’s Pick: Madison Academy
Jacob Bunn’s Pick: Madison Academy
John SaBerre’s Pick: Madison Academy
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