2015 Super 7 Preview

It’s finally here, the final high school football games in each classification as the 14 best teams from across the state head to Tuscaloosa and Bryant-Denny Stadium for the Super 7 championships.

There are some new and old faces as we get ready to crown our state champions. Five teams can repeat as champions from last year, and we even have an identical match-up to last season with Elba vs. Fyffe in 2A. Some programs are new to the game such as Mortimer Jordan and Bayside Academy, and we can only have one undefeated champion this year, as the only two that made it this far unblemished are both 6A competitors – Clay-Chalkville and Spanish Fort.

Below is my preview of the Super 7. I only really went in depth with 4A-7A because those are the classifications featuring Birmingham area teams. However, I also gave my picks of the lower classifications and a couple of things to expect from them as well.

McGill-Toolen (12-1) vs. Spain Park (12-1) – 7A Championship

Wednesday, December 2 at 7 pm

Both of these teams are a bit of a surprise to get here. From the north, everyone always expects Hoover to wind up in the title game, but Spain Park stood strong and beat the Bucs twice, including a 7-6 win in the semifinals a couple of weeks ago to get them to this point. On the south side, McGill-Toolen dominated the Mobile region in Class 7A going 8-0.

Both of these team’s only losses came to 6A schools. Spain Park lost in week one to Austin who was defeated by Clay-Chalkville last week in the 6A semifinals. McGill-Toolen lost to Blount in the middle of the season, and Blount made an exit in round two to Benjamin Russell. The losses to 6A teams further calls into question whether 6A is better than 7A as a whole this season.

Both of these teams have shown weaknesses, but the strong point for both teams is their defense. Spain Park is only giving up 9.7 points a game, but on the other side McGill-Toolen is giving up 10.5 a game. On paper, this should be a low scoring game, but McGill-Toolen’s offense has been fairly productive. If they can get a few touchdowns on the board early and keep Spain Park’s offense off the field, McGill can win this game.

Jon’s Pick: McGill-Toolen 21-17

Spanish Fort (14-0) vs. Clay-Chalkville (14-0) – 6A Championship

Friday, December 4 at 7 pm

This is the match-up we all wanted to see last year before Tyler Johnston got injured and we got Saraland instead. Saraland did well in that game, but this year, we get what we wanted. Two undefeated quarterbacks, two top notch teams, and a game between the only two unbeaten teams left in the state among all classifications.

First, for Spanish Fort, Tyler Johnston has been great this season and recently announced he’s headed to UAB to help restart that football program. He is 34-0 as a starter, having won the 2013 5A state championship before tearing his ACL last season. I have no doubt that Johnston will be UAB’s guy when the program comes back and he will lead them for multiple years – he’s that good. Not to mention the defense with linebacker and Auburn commit Tre Threat. Spanish Fort has the makings to win a title against Clay, but this will be a much bigger task than anything else has been so far this season. Let’s not forget they had to scramble back from a big deficit last week against Benjamin Russell.

For Clay, winning the title against this year could cap an amazing two year stretch for Ty Pigrome. Although there have been scares along the way, Pigrome is 29-0 as a starter and won the title last year over Saraland. They almost suffered a major upset in round two against Homewood, and also had a scare in the regular season against Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa. But even in their closer games, they have shown that they just flat out can not be stopped on offense. Spanish Fort has a good defense, but this could turn into a shootout. Pigrome doesn’t just do it all himself either. There are plenty of weapons around him, including Alabama commit WR TJ Simmons and 4-star Junior WR Nico Collins.

This is easily shaping up to be the best game of the Super 7, which is why they are saving the best for last on Friday night at 7 pm. Look for this to be similar to last year’s game, in the high 30’s or 40’s, and coming down to the wire and whether Spanish Fort can stop Clay’s amazing scoring attack or not.

Jon’s Pick: Clay-Chalkville 42-35

St. Paul’s (12-2) vs. Mortimer Jordan (13-1) – 5A Championship

Thursday, December 3 at 7 pm

The Thursday night game has St. Paul’s looking for their second title in a row against a surprise opponent, the Blue Devils of Mortimer Jordan. After Mortimer Jordan lost to Alexandria in the regular season, it looked like they were set to maybe win one playoff game then bow out to the likes of Guntersville or Wenonah. Instead, Mortimer Jordan beat both of those teams and took out Alexandria in a rematch to earn their right to play in Tuscaloosa this week.

On the south side, St. Paul’s and Jackson were the two teams everyone knew would be in the southern finals before the season even began. There is just no competition when it comes to competing with these two schools. The Mobile regions are strong in 5A through 7A, and the new 7 classification system helped no one more than St. Paul’s.

St. Paul’s was also on the right side of a revenge game as they lost to Jackson in the regular season. After that loss and one to 4A UMS-Wright, some looked at St. Paul’s as only a good, but not great team. The Saints only won their round two playoff game by one point over Greenville. Say what you want – but they found a way to win when they needed to, and now they are going to Tuscaloosa when everyone else is at home.

Mortimer Jordan has faced great rushing attacks in the playoffs, including Jordan Bentley from Guntersville. St. Paul’s will air it out a bit more with quarterback Miller Mosley, so Mortimer Jordan needs to be solid in all aspects to win this game. This game should be decently high scoring, probably in the high 30’s, but St. Paul’s walks away with the win here in my opinion.

Jon’s Pick: St. Paul’s 24-21

Leeds (12-2) vs. Fayette County (10-4) – 4A Championship

Friday, December 4 at 11 am

Leeds is back again and looking as strong as ever as they get ready to face a Fayette County team that has surprised people in the playoffs. Leeds started slow this season with losses to Madison Academy in the Champion’s Challenge and then to Munford in their first region game of the year. They proved themselves last week in a rematch against Munford and also took out UMS-Wright in round three. So far, Leeds has outscored their opponents in the playoffs 186-27, and 20 of that 20 came last week with Munford.

On the other side, Fayette County crushed Cordova last week, the one team people thought would get in to challenge Leeds this year. Fayette County’s record isn’t stellar for a Super 7 team, losing four games this season, but those four are Cordova, Mortimer Jordan (5A), Cullman (6A), and Gordo (3A) who was upset a couple of weeks ago as well in the playoffs.

Not much in the stat line for this game says Fayette County has a shot to win. Leeds is only giving up 8.6 points a game on defense, while scoring almost 48. Leeds has stellar athletes like Tre Nation and TaDarryl Marshall leading the way. It will be hard for Fayette County to come into Tuscaloosa and take out Leeds, and I think the Leeds dynasty keeps on building.

Jon’s Pick: Leeds 42-14

Bayside Academy (11-3) vs. Piedmont (13-1) – 3A Championship

Thursday, December 3 at 11 am

Bayside and Piedmont both surprised a lot of people to get to the Super 7. Many people expected it to be something like Gordo vs. Madison Academy instead. Piedmont was no slouch this season, only losing one game to Leeds in the middle of the season, so it’s not a huge surprise they are here. Madison Academy is not what it once was with Kerryon Johnson.

On the south side of the bracket, Bayside Academy was the beneficiary of an upset from Hillcrest-Evergreen over TR Miller. The only 3A game they lost all year was the region match-up with TR Miller, and they avoided that and ended up winning big over Hillcrest. I like Piedmont in this one, despite the upsets that Bayside Academy have staged in the playoffs so far.

Jon’s Pick: Piedmont 42-7

Elba (13-1) vs. Fyffe (13-1) – 2A Championship

Friday, December 4 at 3 pm

Fyffe was a team I looked at when it came to repeating more than any other this year, but when they lost to Cleveland early on in region play, it made me question that a bit. They crushed everyone else, but still had to sit back as a 2-seed in the playoffs because of that early loss. All of the 1-seeds came in undefeated, but you couldn’t count out Fyffe just because they weren’t one of those four teams.

On the other side, Elba had a strong season, only dropping a game to Opp (3A). Both teams definitely belong in the Super 7, but I like Fyffe to repeat here. Their one loss was a bit flukish in my opinion and I think they are in a good position to repeat.

Jon’s Pick: Fyffe 24-17

Maplesville (12-1) vs. Cedar Bluff (13-1) – 1A Championship

Thursday, December 3 at 3 pm

Maplesville is another team looking to repeat after a fairly easy run through the playoffs. Their only loss of the season came to 2A Tanner who ran the table in the regular season. Their defense is only giving up 13 points a game this season, but Cedar Bluff has been a fairly high scoring team this year as well. I like Maplesville to repeat here.

Jon’s Pick: Maplesville 42-21

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Jon Lunceford is a sports media broadcaster and digital professional. Jon is a graduate of the University of Alabama school of journalism, and played football at Birmingham-Southern College. He has also won two AHSAA Football State Championships while at Homewood High School and was a two-time World Cyber Games Team USA representative. He currently hosts Primetime on WJOX 94.5 and runs the high school athletics site JoxPreps.