Region pictures are becoming clearer as we head into the last game before the break where teams step out of region play with either a bye week or a non-region opponent. Some teams can actually get close to clinching a playoff berth this weekend if they are in a 9-team region.
For instance, if Saraland can beat Spanish Fort, they will all but lock up a spot being 4-0 in the region. Many teams will jump out to 3 wins this weekend which is enough to at least put them in the discussion in 8-team regions.
There are also some big games that won’t necessarily lock up anyone’s playoff berth, but will definitely set some teams apart from the rest. This week is the moment of truth for many teams to show what they are really made of. There are also some major rivalries taking place this week as well such as Pinson Valley vs. Clay-Chalkville.
So here is a look at some of the big games this week. Check out the preview on WJOX 94.5, and read below for more games.
Central Alabama Games to Watch
Spain Park (3-1, 2-0) at Hewitt-Trussville (3-1, 2-0) – 7A Region 3
Spain Park is off to a 2-0 start after a close win over Thompson, then a big win last week over Tuscaloosa County. Hewitt now has wins over Vestavia and Gardendale. Both of these team’s losses came on week one, but both have rebounded well.
This is actually only the second time these teams have ever met, with the first meeting being last season. Many people remember last year’s game after it took 4 overtimes to finally decide a winner, with the Huskies winning 64-63 after Spain Park missed a PAT. Yes, 4-OT and 60+ scored by both. I don’t necessarily think this game will be anywhere near that explosive, but it should be a decent game. I’m going with Hewitt in a close one that stays in the 30’s.
Jon’s Pick: Hewitt-Trussville
Thompson (3-1, 1-1) at Hoover (4-0, 2-0) – 7A Region 3
Hoover has survived a couple of close games the past two weeks against Mountain Brook and Oak Mountain. Right now there is only one comparison people can make between Hoover and Thompson, and that is their games against Mountain Brook – which both won 21-14.
Thompson is the hottest team in the Birmingham area now and there are going to be a lot of extra Warrior fans this Friday. Josh Niblett vs. Mark Freeman is going to turn into a great coaching rivalry in my opinion for 7A Region 3, but for Freeman’s first year, it’s tough to pick against Hoover. The Bucs win this one in a VERY close one.
Jon’s Pick: Hoover
Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa (2-2, 1-0) at Bessemer City (4-0, 2-0) – 6A Region 4
Hillcrest struggled last week in a surprising game against Selma. Their win over Oak Mountain looks less and less impressive, and their game against Clay will be looked at differently with Pigrome being ejected. However, I still think they are a solid team.
Bessemer City is a surprise after going 5-6 last season (although they did finish 3rd in the region), and they look pretty strong so far. They haven’t played great competition, with Hueytown and Shades Valley in major decline, but I still think they can give Hillcrest a run for their money. This is the last game for both teams before a bye week and stout competition the week after. Bessemer City plays McAdory and Hillcrest plays Tuscaloosa County.
Jon’s Pick: Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa
Pinson Valley (3-1, 1-1) at Clay-Chalkville (4-0, 1-0) – 6A Region 6
This will be the Jox game of the week this week as these crosstown rivals take on each other in a region match-up. Clay has never lost this game, but I was able to see the rivalry first hand in 2012 when it went to overtime and Pinson almost got the best of Clay. I think Clay keeps the streak alive in this one after we saw Gardendale handle Pinson easy enough, but there is a lot more competition this year in 6A Region 6. If Clay gets past Pinson, they have an easy road until the last two games of the season, so they will put everything they have in this one before a bye week.
Jon’s Pick: Clay-Chalkville
Other big games involving area teams:
Helena (3-0, 2-0) at Demopolis (3-0, 2-0) – 5A Region 4
Pleasant Grove (3-0, 2-0) at Carver-Birmingham (2-1, 2-0) – 5A Region 5
Ramsay (2-1, 1-1) at Wenonah (4-0, 2-0) – 5A Region 5
Mortimer Jordan (3-0, 2-0) at St. Clair County (3-0, 2-0) – 5A Region 6
Elmore County (3-0, 2-0) at Leeds (2-2, 0-1) – 4A Region 3
Statewide Games to Watch
Prattville (3-0, 1-0) at Central Phenix City (3-1, 2-0) – 7A Region 2
This is one people have been waiting for in 7A Region 2. The winner of this game is the heavy favorite to play in the Super 7 against the heavy favorite from the north, Hoover. Central’s only loss came to a top ranked Georgia team, and Prattville is perfect so far. Both teams have out-of-state wins, both teams have many college recruits, both teams have had Jamey Dubose as head coach.
Dubose, now at Central, will look to avenge last year’s playoff loss and win in the regular season to be in the driver’s seat for the region title like last year. Central’s only win over Prattville was that 42-34 regular season win last season. This game is at Central, so it will be a favorable environment for the Red Devils. I like Central to win a close one at home, and be the favorite in the south.
Jon’s Pick: Central-Phenix City
Gadsden City (3-1, 2-0) at Bob Jones (3-0, 2-0) – 7A Region 4
In the north, these are the two teams from Region 4 that will most likely challenge Hoover for the spot in the title game. Last year, it was Gadsden City who made it to the semi’s against Hoover before losing big, 42-7. Gadsden City started this season with a close loss to Auburn, but have since run over any team they have faced. Bob Jones and Gadsden City have split their meetings 1-1, with Bob Jones getting a playoff victory against Gadsden City in 2012. Gadsden City won last year’s match-up 44-23.
I’m leaning Gadsden City in this one, but the winner will definitely end up as region champion by the time the regular season is over. I don’t see anyone in this region that can stop either of these teams, so this is an important game early for both schools.
Jon’s Pick: Gadsden City
Spanish Fort (4-0, 2-0) at Saraland (3-0, 3-0) – 6A Region 1
Yet another game that will most likely decide a region championship, and perhaps put forward a favorite to make the Super 7 from the south. Spanish Fort is healthy and have won big over everyone they have played. Many people thought Saraland came into this year a little weaker than they were last season when they made the championship, but they have started strong this season going 3-0 with all of those games coming in region. No matter what, if Saraland wins, they will almost have certainly locked up a playoff spot, but if Spanish Fort wins, they will take the reigns and be in first place with a spot almost locked up.
Tyler Johnston from Spanish Fort is going to be key in this game as he missed their last clash in the semifinals last year. Also, LB Tre Threat is injured, but says he will be back this week. He is an Auburn commit who is helping lead the defense and they will need him against Saraland. All things considered, I still have to lean Spanish Fort in this one.
Jon’s Pick: Spanish Fort
Other big games this week outside the central Alabama area is:
Fort Payne (3-0, 2-0) at Albertville (4-0, 2-0) – 6A Region 7