Round one is in the books and there weren’t too many surprising upsets across the state. Perhaps one of the biggest to me was all of Region 5 moving on in 6A. Homewood and Walker crushed their opponents, while Minor held on to beat Albertville and Briarwood took out a #1 seed in Fort Payne. Region 5 dominated Region 7.
This week though, they all face tough tasks as they both take on the top two teams from Region 6 and 8. Homewood is the only one that has to travel as they go to Clay-Chalkville.
In 7A, only one Mobile and one Huntsville team is moving on to the quarterfinals. McGill-Toolen beat Enterprise to move on and now have to face Auburn, while James Clemens took out a beat up Hewitt-Trussville team and has to face Spain Park.
In the other game in the south, Central-Phenix City gets a rematch with Lee-Montgomery who they beat 39-20 in the regular season. In the north, Hoover gets to host Vestavia in another rematch due to Vestavia losing the tiebreaker and being the lower seed.
Here are the top games of the week, along with other predictions from the games in 5A-7A.
Central Alabama Games to Watch
Vestavia Hills at Hoover – 7A
A huge rivalry game that is happening in the second round of the playoffs – not something you usually hear. Hoover has look immensely better the last few weeks after losing to the Rebels and are out for blood this week as they get to host the rematch. Vestavia kind of got screwed over with the way the rules work, but that’s how things go. Despite beating Hoover in the regular season at home, they have to travel because of Hoover winning the tiebreaker and being the higher seed. Everyone always complains about scheduling in college football, and now it’s come to haunt Vestavia.
However, Vestavia can still win this game. They are a great team that went on the road and beat the team that was #1 in 7A up until the final week of the season. I just think Hoover is too much for them, and they are in a bas position having to go on the road for this one. I like Hoover to win this rematch and set up a potential second rematch with Spain Park next week.
Jon’s Pick: Hoover
Homewood at Clay-Chalkville – 6A
By losing to Walker, Homewood got put in a tough spot. They would have had to travel to their second round opponent regardless of what happened, and that opponent just turned out to be the best team in the state, and a top 10 team in the NATION. Clay is ranked #9 in the country for a good reason. They have looked terrific the last couple of years, and are on a 26-game winning streak.
However, Clay has never beaten Homewood. They only met once before, and it was in the first round of the 2006 playoffs. Homewood was a 4-seed that only got in because every star aligned in their favor. Clay was 9-1 and the 6A Region 7 champion. However, a 5-5 Homewood team went in and won 40-28. This year, Homewood comes in hungry for their 10th win. They haven’t had a 10-win season since back in 2005 when they went 15-0 and won the 5A state title.
On both sides of the ball, there is talent for both teams. For Clay, Ty Pigrome leads an outstanding offense with Nico Collins and Alabama commit TJ Simmons as his main targets. Homewood’s defense is anchored by South Carolina commit Griffin Gentry. Homewood’s secondary will have a hard time keeping Clay’s talented receivers in check, so it will be up to Gentry and crew to put pressure on Pigrome.
This will be a tough game for Homewood, and I’m going with Clay to win.
Jon’s Pick: Clay-Chalkville
Gardendale at Walker – 6A
Gardendale continues it’s great season with a date at Walker. Walker has been a little inconsistent this weekend, after their loss to Briarwood, then beating Homewood, then losing to Northridge. However, they played strong in round one limiting Scotsboro from being able to do anything.
Coming in to round one, I thought Gardendale had drawn the hardest match-up a high seed could have against Hartselle, but they handled that task easy enough. I like Gardendale to move on here and potentially face Austin. Both games in this quadrant of the bracket could go either way, due to Walker and Austin looking amazing at times and not so much other times.
Jon’s Pick: Gardendale
Austin at Briarwood – 6A
The other half of that quadrant sees Fred Yancey’s team hosting a playoff game. Who would have ever thought that would happen after the Lions started 1-4 and ended the season 4-6. Never say never for Briarwood though as they took out a good Fort Payne team and now get to take on Austin, the giant slayers.
Austin started the season with a win over current 7A #1 Spain Park and ended the season with a win over then 7A #1 Bob Jones. Yet they lost games along the way which call into question how good this team actually is when it comes to consistency. Both teams can win this game, but I probably like good Austin to show up in this one and win it close. That would set up an Austin at Gardendale quarterfinal game to send the winner to play (in my opinion) Clay-Chalkville or Muscle Shoals.
Jon’s Pick: Austin
Mortimer Jordan at Wenonah – 5A
There are a few good Birmingham area games in 5A this week, including Parker hosting Russellville and Pleasant Grove heading to Alexandria. However, I’m looking at Mortimer Jordan at Wenonah as the best game in the area. Wenonah has been unstoppable this season, and look like they could possibly make a Super 7 run. They have a lot of competition in the north side of the 5A bracket, and it starts this week with Mortimer Jordan.
Mortimer Jordan has been good this season as well, with their only loss being a 3 point loss to region champ Alexandria. Mortimer Jordan could very well be the best team at this point in the season from 5A Region 6, and they can prove it with a win this weekend. I think Pleasant Grove can beat Alexandria as well, which would set up Mortimer Jordan for a Super 7 run themselves. However, I like the Dragons to get a big win this weekend and move on.
Jon’s Pick: Wenonah
Montevallo at Leeds – 4A
How about Montevallo this year? A great regular season, a #2 seed in the playoffs, and a great first round win. Your reward? You get to travel to Leeds. It’s a tough second game for Montevallo, but the winner of this game most likely gets UMS-Wright in the next round. The old saying goes, “To be the best, you have to beat the best.”
Montevallo has nothing to be ashamed of this season, they have made an amazing turnaround from 1-9 last year. They need to come into this game and put everything on the line if they want to upset the Green Wave. I just think Leeds has a little too much talent with TaDarryl Marshall leading the way. I look for this game to set up a Leeds/UMS-Wright rematch of last year’s south semi-finals.
Jon’s Pick: Leeds
Auburn at McGill-Toolen
Lee-Montgomery at Central-Phenix City
James Clemens at Spain Park
Vestavia at Hoover
Blount at Bessemer City
Benjamin Russell at McAdory
Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa at Opelika
Northridge at Spanish Fort
Homewood at Clay-Chalkville
Muscle Shoals at Minor
Austin at Briarwood
Gardendale at Walker
St. Paul’s at Greenville
Demopolis at Vigor
Helena at Beauregard
Eufaula at Jackson
Pleasant Grove at Alexandria
Russellville at Parker
Guntersville at Hayden
Mortimer Jordan at Wenonah