We’re finally into the high school football season as we head to the first full week of games. There are some outstanding non-region match-ups throughout the state of Alabama as some teams begin their seasons, while schools in 9-team regions do begin region play.
There are plenty of games to choose from, but here are the top games around the central Alabama area and the rest of the state of Alabama.
Central Alabama Games to Watch – Week One
Vestavia(0-0) at Homewood (1-0)
This is a series that was tied at 17-17 between 1974 and 2005, but since then Homewood is only 1-8 against the Rebels. The Patriots lost 17-7 last season in a fairly close game. Vestavia is hungry for a playoff appearance after a fairly disappointing season last year. Homewood is out to prove that they belong in the 6A state title picture this year as well. I look for this to stay close, but with Vestavia coming out on top.
Jon’s Pick: Vestavia
Manatee (1-0) at Hoover(1-0)
Hoover looked much stronger in their opening game this season than they did last season against Miami Central. Now the #1 team in Alabama according to USA Today (and many other polls) will look to get revenge on the state of Florida against the 23rd ranked team from Florida. I like Hoover to get their revenge on Florida in this one with that stout defense.
Jon’s Pick: Hoover
Bessemer City (1-0) at Shades Valley (0-1)
Bessemer City got off to a great start with a win over Hueytown in week zero. Shades Valley had the unfortunate pleasure of playing Florence and losing pretty badly. However, I like Shades Valley here to bounce back with another 6A win before starting region play.
Jon’s Pick: Shades Valley
Chelsea(0-0) at Briarwood (0-0)
The first game for both of these schools, and these are two schools who are looking to prove their standing in their regions. Chelsea and Briarwood both finished in the middle of the pack in regions 3 and 5 respectively.
Jon’s Pick: Briarwood
Clay-Chalkville (1-0) at Minor (0-0)
Hard to pick against Clay-Chalkville, no matter who the opponent is. Unfortunately for Minor, they get the Cougars first. Sorry Minor.
Jon’s Pick: Clay-Chalkville
Hewitt (0-1) at Gardendale (0-0)
Gardendale has a great opportunity here to start the season off strong against the Huskies. Hewitt dropped their game against Montgomery Bell Academy from Tennessee in week zero and Gardendale just had a tune-up jamboree. They will come in fresh, but I’m not sure if it will be enough.
Jon’s Pick: Hewitt-Trussville
Hueytown (0-1) at Spain Park (0-1)
This is an interesting match-up, both teams have a lot to live up to but neither one of them did very well last year, both missing the playoffs in their respective classifications. Hueytown had a rough first week against Bessemer City, and Spain Park lost a triple overtime thriller to Austin, a 2-8 team from last season. Both of these teams are looking for that first win of the season, but Spain Park is still a stronger team in my opinion
Jon’s Pick: Spain Park
Pelham (0-0) at Thompson (1-0)
Thompson is on the right path this season with former Spanish Fort coach Mark Freeman leading the team. They got their first win since 2013 after going 0-10 last season, and did it with an impressive 37-13 win against Wetumpka. Pelham had an off year last season as well in the new class 6A against teams like Homewood and Briarwood. The Panthers will start region play against Homewood on the road next week, so this will be a good test to see how well they play this season.
Jon’s Pick: Thompson
Statewide Games to Watch – Week One
Fairhope (1-0) at Foley (1-0) (7A Region 1)
Fairhope has been a really solid team the last few years. I remember playing them back in the early 2000’s when they were 5A and now they are the best team in 7A Region 1. This is one of the few region match-ups this week and it’s a big one. I look for Fairhope to win a close game, but Foley can easily win this region with their talent. Foley did beat Fairhope last season in the second round of the playoffs 34-7, so Foley knows how to beat Fairhope. I still like the Pirates in this one.
Jon’s Pick: Fairhope
Auburn (1-0) at Opelika (1-0)
I picked Auburn to beat Gadsden City last week, despite Auburn finishing with a losing record last year and Gadsden City winning 7A Region 4 and making the semi-finals. Auburn will be a solid team this year, and I think they have a shot to win 7A Region 2 if Central-Phenix City and Prattville slip up. I think this is a good chance to really prove last week’s grueling game wasn’t a fluke, and I think they get it done. Opelika is still a favorite for 6A Region 3 next to Oxford and Benjamin Russell, but this will be a tough one for them to win.
Jon’s Pick: Auburn
Gadsden City (0-1) at Oxford (1-0)
This is basically the twin of the Auburn/Opelika match-up, with a solid 7A team taking on a good 6A team. Oxford had a great win over Southside last week to start the season strong, and this would really be a statement that they are the favorites in region 3 and a force to look out for in the southern half of the playoff bracket. I like Gadsden City though to get this win on the road..
Jon’s Pick: Gadsden City
Central Clay County (1-0) at Benjamin Russell (1-0)
This is an intriguing 5A vs. 6A match-up. Central Clay County finished last season just behind Tallassee in region 3, and have been a solid team since the school formed a few years ago. They unfortunately met up against St. Paul’s in the second round and made an early exit last year. Benjamin Russell is looking to return to their former glory from back in the early 2000’s and this will be a good second win to pick-up, even if it is stepping down a classification. Central Clay County is definitely capable of winning this game, but I think the Wildcats take it.
Jon’s Pick: Benjamin Russell
Spanish Fort (1-0) at Gulf Shores (0-1) (6A Region 1)
Gulf Shores lost a close one against Foley last Thursday night to kick off the 2015 season. They will be a solid team this season and make the playoffs, but Spanish Fort is looking strong with the return of QB Tyler Johnston who is hungry for wins after missing most of last season with an ACL injury. Spanish Fort is definitely one of the championship favorites from the south this season, and it all starts here.
Jon’s Pick: Spanish Fort
Stanhope Elmore (0-0) at Prattville (0-0)
Both of these teams are starting this week, and this is a big rivalry around the Montgomery area. I like Prattville in this one to start their season strong before heading into region play. Stanhope will definitely be a playoff team after tying for second last year in 6A Region 2, but this game will be hard for them to win.
Jon’s Pick: Prattville