High School Playoff Predictions – Round 1

It’s finally time for the best part of the year – high school playoffs!

That’s right, the second season is finally upon us and it’s time to determine the best teams in the state from each classification. This year, I’ll be picking who I think will and won’t make it to the next round in 5A, 6A, and 7A. I feel I know those classifications a lot better than 1A-4A and I will be able to give much better educated guesses.

These matches will be listed in twos, with the winners playing each other in the next round. I will note home and away. I’ll also give my championship pick for each class.

So here are the picks…

Class 7A

Jeff Davis at Fairhope
Foley at Auburn

Murphy at Central-Phenix City
Prattville at Baker

Buckhorn at Hoover
Tuscaloosa County at Bob Jones

Hewitt-Trussville at Gadsden City
James Clemens at Oak Mountain

It’s hard to not go with Hoover as the champion once again this year. But if any team is poised to take them out, I believe it’s Central-Phenix City. Central’s lone loss this season comes from American Heritage in Florida, but Hoover also has losses to teams from Florida and Georgia. Central started the season with two wins over teams from Georgia. Central will have a long road to the first 7A championship. If they get past Murphy, they could have to face Prattville in a rematch of what was one of the best games all year.

Fairhope will then be a likely candidate in the semi-finals and the Pirates haven’t lost all season. Central and Fairhope will be a great game for the south representative to the Super 7. Hoover looks too strong to not win the north.

Class 6A

Pell City at Carver Montgomery
Daphne at Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa

Wetumpka at Opelika
Bessemer City at Saraland

Blount at McAdory
Oxford at Dothan

Northridge at Spanish Fort
Stanhope Elmore at Benjamin Russell

Scottsboro at Clay-Chalkville
Minor at Muscle Shoals

Pinson Valley at Southside-Gadsden
Decatur at Walker

Briarwood at Florence
Arab at Shades Valley

Hartselle at Homewood
Fort Payne at Gardendale

6A has been turned upside down by one player – Tyler Johnston – the standout QB from Spanish Fort. Spanish Fort went from a team that looked unstoppable and poised for their third state championship in a row, to a team that might not even make it past the second of third round of the playoffs. The new team that stands above the rest is Clay Chalkville. In my opinion, Clay Chalkville is THE best team in the state, even over Hoover. But unfortunately, we won’t get to see that matchup and rematch of the 6A semi-finals from two years ago.

On the south side, Opelika and Saraland look like the two teams to beat. They will have the unfortunate bracket placement of facing off in the second round due to Saraland’s early loss to a healthy Spanish Fort team. Benjamin Russell will give Spanish Fort all they can handle in round two, but the Toros defense is still plenty good. Look for the winner of the Opelika/Saraland game to go to the Super 7, with Spanish Fort and McAdory as dark horses.

In the north, it’s all about Clay-Chalkville. If Minor can get past Muscle Shoals, they will prove to be an interesting opponent for Clay, much harder than they were hoping for out of a 3-seed. Minor will host the game if they do match up. Minor is one of the most athletic teams I witnessed all year. A few mistakes here and there kept them from winning Region 5, as they had Homewood against the ropes before the Patriots pulled out a miracle. Speaking of Homewood, the Patriots this year are a team that could make it to the semi-finals, or lose in the first round. I think a lot of it will depend on how much they run QB Carson Griffis. He’s had some stellar rushing games, putting up over 270 yards on Pelham earlier this year. But Homewood likes to keep it close, and has a few 4th quarter wins they have had to pull out. It’s definitely not the 60-0 blowout team of year’s past. The Hartselle match-up will be a good one, but then the winner of that group of 4 will have to play Florence or Shades Valley most likely. I see a Clay/Florence semi, with Clay moving on, and Clay winning the 6A championship.

Class 5A

Sylacauga at Greenville
Vigor at Calera

Rehobeth at Tallassee
Central Tuscaloosa at Jackson

BC Rain at Demopolis
Beauregard at Charles Henderson

Helena at St. Paul’s
Eufaula at Clay County Central

Boaz at Lincoln
Pleasant Grove at Russellville

Moody at Guntersville
JO Johnson at Ramsay

Dora at East Limestone
Etowah at Mortimer Jordan

West Point at Parker
Alexandria at Madison County

Class 5A is a tough one to call. There are a lot of talented teams that haven’t gotten as much credit now that 5A is two steps down from the top, not one. In the south, I like Calera to make a deep run, if not win the whole thing. They have been a scoring machine, putting up 453 points this year, way more than anyone else in 5A. But to get there, they will have to get past the favorite for the playoffs, St. Paul’s. I remember when St. Paul’s was barely making the playoffs, now they are a 5A powerhouse. It’s going to be hard to tackle that giant from the top, but if Calera and St. Paul’s win out, that will be a spectacular semi-final to witness. I’m going with St. Paul’s to make it to the Super 7, by the slightest of margins.

In the north, there are a couple of teams who have come on strong in Birmingham – Parker and Ramsay. Ramsay’s only loss is a close, goal line stand loss to Parker. Parker only dropped an upset loss to Dora. Both these teams look strong, but now they have to step out and play teams that are a little out of their comfort zone. Russellville and East Limestone are two teams to look out for as well. They both had great seasons, with East Limestone taking the regular season meeting between the two 21-14. Guntersville is another team that hasn’t dropped a single game, and has put up a decent amount of points. Unfortunately, I believe most of the strength in 5A this season is in the south region, so whoever comes out of that side, will be my pick to win it all. I think St. Paul’s will face Guntersville in the Super 7, with St. Paul’s taking it.

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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.