What did we learn?
– One down, one to go for the Central Red Devils out of Phenix City. Central handled their business after a tight scoring first half, pulling away for a 43-24 win over Enterprise. The Wildcats had come in not allowing more than 14 points in a game, but Zion Webb and Jaxton Carson showed for the second week in a row that these aren’t the Week 0 Red Devils on offense. Webb went for over 350 total yards and a touchdown while Carson finished with 137 yards and four TDs on the ground. The Devils doubled up the ‘Cats in yardage (516-268) but committed three turnovers. Their last big test in region play will come in 11 days at home against Lee-Montgomery. That should be a shootout.
– Speaking of shootouts, Birmingham area’s Hewitt-Trussville now stands alone at the top of Huntsville-dominated Region 4. This comes off the heels of a 59-49 marathon win over Bob Jones in our Game of the Week. It was a sight to behold as Hewitt matched Bob Jones early before taking their first lead at 28-21. From there, they never gave it back as they eventually got out to a 52-35 advantage before shutting the lid on the Pats’ comeback attempt for the 10-point victory. For Hewitt, not much stands in the way of a region title except for their final game on October 21st, a home date with Bob Jones’ Madison rival, James Clemens. The Jets look better than they did just a month ago. They’ve won four straight, including holding Clay-Chalkville to single digits over a week ago. That will be Hewitt’s real test to see if they can handle the type of defensive challenge Hoover, Central, and McGill-Toolen could all present. Until then, they have Sparkman and Huntsville to avoid sleeping on.
– Every region but one has a clear leader. The one exception to the rule is Region 2, where Sidney Lanier is keeping pace with Park Crossing leading to an October 14th showdown in Montgomery. The Poets have been nowhere near as convincing as PC in winning, but they are pulling games out. 10 points over Northview. Six over Carver-Montgomery. Three this past week over Dothan. Lanier gets the week off to heal their wounded before the big battle in the capital. They’ll need that to go against a Thunderbird squad averaging just under 40 a game. PC’s lone loss came to Lee-Montgomery in a 51-44 shooutout. They’ll get Lanier’s last opponent this week when they face Dothan in preparation for the de facto region title game. Cramton Bowl will be rocking in less than two weeks.
– Region 3 may be the best race of them all. While Opelika sits alone at the top, Ben Russell, Chelsea, and Wetumpka all sit with one region loss. Russell fell to Opelika, Chelsea to Russell, Wetumpka to Chelsea. And the one game this week that could throw the whole title race into the spin cycle is Chelsea heading to Opelika. The Hornets have gotten better and better each year under Chris Elmore. Two years ago, their 60-14 loss in Opleika was the beginning of their downward spiral to missing the playoffs. Last year, they led the Bulldogs at halftime before mistakes cost them in a 40-25 loss at home. But they rebounded to beat Pell City and Oxford and made the playoffs. To be clear, Chelsea is definitely better at home than on the road. Opelika will be a tough environment to walk out of with a W. But if the Hornets can jump up to a big advantage the same way Central did two Fridays ago, there’s a chance for an upset. They’ve already beaten region leader Briarwood and playoff hopefuls Oak Mountain and Gardendale this season.
– In a battle of quarterback versus former team, quarterback Daulton Hyatt and his Etowah Blue Devils defeated former squad Arab 61-41 in a battle in Attalla. Hyatt scored five touchdowns on the night, four of them through the air. The Blue Devils are now back in a familiar position, tied for the region lead with one other team. Difference is Scottsboro is Etowah’s final game on the schedule, whereas Guntersville beat Etowah in the middle of the season each of the last two years. Etowah’s gotten past three of the four major hurdles (Guntersville, Alexandria, Arab). The Wildcats are a few weeks away, but it’s hard to believe the Devils aren’t already looking just a little ahead. They’ll face cellar dweller Boaz this week, then take on a Crossville team trying to sneak into the postseason. Meanwhile, Scottsboro will take on Arab as the Knights try to clinch their playoff berth as soon as possible.
– Beauregard and Central-Clay County have taken care of their respective business leading up to a likely region title clash in Region 4. The Hornets are reigning region champs and are playing like it again. Beauregard is averaging 49.2 points to just 10.8 allowed a game. Their closest margin of victory is 26. One problem: their opposition record is a combined 8-23. Central is nowhere near as impressive in margin of victory, but they’ve got the advantage in competition (combined 17-21, 12-6 non-region) and having won close against the likes of Munford and Ben Russell. Munford hasn’t lost since and Russell’s two other losses are to Opelika and Oxford (combined 13-1). Point is, Beauregard shouldn’t intimidate Central in the least. The game is in Lineville which adds to the intrigue. If this game doesn’t turn into another blowout for the Hornets, the question will be how well does Beauregard handle adversity. Their only game last year with a margin in single digits was when Jackson beat them by three in the quarterfinals.
Who stood out?
Thompson – It’s been a much-needed two weeks for Thompson. After dropping to Mountain Brook and Oak Mountain by a combined five points (including a last-second touchdown pass), the Warriors beat Vestavia Hills following a non-region win over Pelham. Thompson is in the mix with three other teams at 2-2 in region play for the third and fourth place spots in 7A Region 3. Thompson must contend with two of those teams the next two weeks at home against Spain Park and in Roebuck against Huffman before the finish the season hosting region leader Hoover.
Clay-Chalkville – With a 23-20 win over Gardendale, the Cougars have kept themselves alive in the region title race. Willie Miller had a big night with nearly 300 passing yards and injured running back Quentin Young had a few touches to get himself back into the swing of the offense. He should be back to strength by the time Clay heads to Adamsville for a showdown with Minor. With a win over Carver this coming Friday, the Cougars would be 4-1 in region play and take on a 4-0 Minor. With 2-1 Pinson still in the mix for a three-way tie, the Indians currently own the tiebreaker for combined wins over non-region opponents should it come to that, but Pinson still has Gardendale left in region play.
St. Paul’s – This had to be St. Paul’s. In a #1 vs #2 match-up that is likely for the region title and home-field advantage in a potential playoff rematch (they’ve done it the past two seasons in the semi-finals), the Saints rode Tamaurice Smith’s offensive and defensive performances as he scored all three touchdowns for the offense and added a pick six in the 28-21 road win. St. Paul’s has now won four out of their five games with the Aggies and are perennial favorites to win another 5A state title after this victory.
Players of the Week
Zion Webb (QB, Central-Phenix City) – 189 rushing yards, 173 passing yards and a touchdown for 362 total yards of offense in 43-24 win over Enterprise
Neil Farrell (DL, Murphy) – Six tackles, 3 TFLs, two assists, three sacks including the game winner to prevent Foley’s two-point conversion in a 21-20 win
Reynard Ellis (LB, Shades Valley) – 10 tackles, two sacks, 230 rushing yards, five touchdowns in 49-28 win over Parker
Leonard Johnson (RB, Hayden) – 23 carries, 272 yards, two touchdowns, three tackles, and an interception in 39-29 victory over Springville