It’s finally here, the deciding week for most regions across the state in all classifications. 9-team regions will keep playing region games into week 11, but most regions are going to finish up this weekend. Many teams locked up region championships last week, but there are still some to be decided.
Before I preview some of the big games coming up this weekend, here are the brackets so far with teams that have locked up their specific spot in the bracket. Sorry for any typos, trying to fit multiple schools in the bracket might look weird and I probably messed some up. Brackets are in .pdf format.
After this week, with the exception of 9-team regions and the few teams that still need a bunch of crazy non-region tiebreakers, the brackets will be mostly filled in. I’ll update the brackets after the games happen this weekend. If you have a question about where a team will fall in the bracket if they aren’t listed in the ones above, just shoot me a tweet @jlunce or @alpreps. If you’re driving home from a game on Friday night and want to know where your team fell, tune in to Jox 94.5 or joxfm.com to hear where teams fell.
Here is the Opening Drive preview for the final week of region play featuring one of the greatest defensive backs in Alabama history, Antonio Langham, who is now coaching with former Bama QB Andrew Zow at Montevallo High School. Montevallo is playing for home field in the playoffs this week against Northside (preview below) and has improved from 1-9 last season to 7-1 so far this season.
Central Alabama Games to Watch
Hewitt-Trussville (6-2, 5-1) at Hoover (6-2, 4-2) – 7A Region 3
This is a big match-up for Hewitt because they can have home field advantage in the playoffs. If Hoover gets a win here (and Vestavia beats Tuscaloosa County, which should happen), it will cause a tiebreaker between Hoover, Hewitt, and Vestavia. Hoover and Vestavia are both undefeated out of region, but Hewitt is not after a loss to an out-of-state team. We will have to wait and see until after week 11 to see how things shake out after that.
Regardless, this is a big game for both programs because Hoover hasn’t finished this low in a long time (not counting their forfeited season). Hewitt struggled to barely make the playoffs last season, but they are right back on track and looking good to possibly beat Hoover this week and give Hoover three losses on the season. They also need to hope they win because they get Clay-Chalkville next and don’t want that game to be a seeding game for them.
Jon’s Pick: Hewitt-Trussville
Gardendale (7-1, 5-0) at Clay-Chalkville (8-0, 5-0) – 6A Region 6
Gardendale has looked good all season, despite one slip up against Hewitt early on. They beat Fort Payne last week in what could very well be a playoff match-up if Gardendale loses this game against Clay. Clay-Chalkville has been one of the most solid teams all season and most think they are the best team in the entire state regardless of classification. A win here and against Hewitt next week would show that they are going to be unstoppable in the playoffs.
This very well could be the north semi-finals, regardless of who wins here. I don’t see anyone else in the north that can compete outside of Muscle Shoals. If you want to see the game of the week in Birmingham, head out to Clay and watch this one.
Jon’s Pick: Clay-Chalkville
Pleasant Grove (7-1, 6-0) at Wenonah (8-0, 6-0) – 5A Region 5
Two teams that have surprised a lot of people in the last 365 days are Pleasant Grove and Wenonah. After only going 4-4 last season, Wenonah is now 8-0 and has already clinched home field in the playoffs. Pleasant Grove surprised everyone last year after finishing third in region, and made the state title game. Now, both teams are undefeated in region and are fighting for the region title. Winner gets 1st seed, loser gets 2nd seed – it’s that simple.
The winner will most likely host Randolph in round one, and the loser will host the loser of Etowah and Madison County. If Wenonah wins and Madison County loses this week, which I can definitely see happening, it will set up a rematch of last year’s semi-finals between Pleasant Grove and Madison County in round 1.
Jon’s Pick: Wenonah
Montevallo (7-1, 4-1) at Northside (7-1, 4-1) – 4A Region 4
Montevallo started off great this season before losing their first game to Bibb County. Now to keep home field in the playoffs, they must beat Northside. If they lose, they will finish third and have to travel to either Trinity or St. James, but if they win, they will host the loser of that Trinity/St. James game. Regardless of what happens, they will finish no worse than third and have had a marvelous turnaround season after going 1-9 last year.
Head coach Andrew Zow, along with defensive great Antonio Langham and the whole staff has gotten the Montevallo team playing well. If Montevallo wins Friday and finishes second, they will be one round away from a potential match-up against Leeds, which would be an amazing game.
Jon’s Pick: Montevallo
Shades Valley (2-5, 2-3) at Pinson Valley (6-2, 3-2) – 6A Region 6
Shades Valley is in a must-win scenario if they want to make the playoffs. After losing to Huffman last week, they need to beat Pinson Valley to at least force a tiebreaker. If Huffman can beat Woodlawn and Shades Valley wins, then it will force a three-way tiebreaker that Shades Valley would still most likely lose. Shades Valley needs to win and hope Huffman loses to Woodlawn so that they can sneak in to the 4th seed in the playoffs, but I don’t see that happening.
Jon’s Pick: Pinson Valley
Statewide Games to Watch
Auburn (4-4, 3-2) at Smiths Station (5-3, 2-3) – 7A Region 2
My head starts to hurt when I think all of the potential tiebreakers that could happen in 7A Region 2. After Central (who has won the region title), it’s a huge mess. Auburn is currently in a good position and for them it’s simple – win and you get a home game in round one against a Mobile team. If they lose, it will push things into a messy tiebreaker.
The way I expect it to happen is – Auburn beats Smiths Station, that makes it 1. Central-Phenix City, 2. Auburn. After that, assuming Central beats Enterprise, that will make it where the Prattville/Lee-Montgomery winner gets the third seed at 3-3 in the region. That leaves the Prattville/Lee-Montgomery loser, Smiths Station, Enterprise, and Jeff Davis all tied at 2-4 for the final spot. I’m not going to start listing out scenarios because we’ll just have to see how things fall this weekend.
As for Auburn and Smiths Station, I think Auburn, after starting the season 2-4, clinches home field and wins.
Jon’s Pick: Auburn
Fairhope (6-2, 4-2) at Murphy (5-3, 5-1) – 7A Region 1 (Thursday)
This game, along with McGill-Toolen at Theodore are intriguing match-ups. If Fairhope wins, then it will put them up into second place in 7A Region 1. This region has 9 teams in it, so region games will continue to be played through next week. McGill-Toolen is the only team that is locked into the playoffs, but they can still drop with games against Theodore and Foley remaining. If Murphy wins, it virtually locks them in to a home field game against someone from region 2 (see the Auburn/Smiths Station game above).
Jon’s Pick: Fairhope
JO Johnson (5-3, 4-2) at Columbia (2-6, 2-4) – 5A Region 8
I only mention this game because it’s the last regular season game ever for JO Johnson. The school is closing it’s doors in May and students will attend the new Jemison High School next year. Butler High School closed it’s doors last year and sent it’s students to a variety of schools, but Jemison is set to bring in students from both Johnson and Butler.
The good news for JO Johnson is that they are locked in to the playoffs so this isn’t the last game ever. They are the third seed out of 5A Region 8 and will travel to Mortimer Jordan. If they can win that game, they will most likely host the Pleasant Grove/Wenonah winner and have another football game in Huntsville. They should definitely win this week against Columbia and with it being their last regular season football game ever, they should win big.
Jon’s Pick: JO Johnson