Can you believe we’re already heading into the sixth week of high school football? Crazy how fast things go during the season, but here we are.
This is an interesting week because a good number of teams are off after starting their season on week one. Teams such as Hoover, Homewood, Clay-Chalkville, Hewitt-Trussville and others are all taking a break before jumping back into region play next week. Almost all of the teams that are playing this week are playing non-region games. There are some decent games on the slate this week as teams look to improve without messing with their region record.
Since we’re at the halfway point in the season, I thought it would be interesting to do a little bracketology on the 5A, 6A and 7A classifications and see where everyone is right now. These brackets are a mix of where teams are in the standings at this point and partially where I think they will end up. If I haven’t seen a team or been able to pay much attention to them at all this season, I’ve gone strictly on the region standings because that’s a hard number I can use.
Also, shameless plug for ALPreps, which is where I keep a lot of my high school stuff, and will host these brackets. Follow me on Twitter @ALPreps as well. I collect scores there for the Encore Sports Medicine High School Scoreboard on Friday nights and also try to tweet scores out on Friday night. I also use it to tweet out live info from all the championship events I cover with the NFHS Network.
I’ve only done those three classifications because those are the only three I’ve really been able to focus on since most Birmingham area schools are in those classifications. Once the season is over, I’ll have the real brackets for all of the classifications.
Now on to the schedule and preview for this week. If you missed the preview on the Opening Drive on WJOX 94.5, here is the podcast:
Central Alabama Games to Watch
Helena (3-1, 2-1) at Chelsea (4-0, 2-0) – 5A vs. 6A
I went to this game last year when it was at Helena, and although it was a very high scoring affair, Chelsea was definitely the better team, and both teams looked fairly solid. Helena has handled the split with Pelham way better than Pelham has, and was undefeated before losing their first game this past weekend to Demopolis.
Both of these teams are way improved from last year, but Chelsea is on fire. I think Chelsea wins big, but if you want to go see a couple of lesser known teams in the Birmingham area who are going to be really solid in their respective classifications this year – check this one out.
Jon’s Pick: Chelsea
Pinson Valley (3-2, 1-2) at McAdory (4-0, 2-0) – 6A Region 6 vs. Region 4
Pinson started off really strong, but ran into a wall named Gardendale and Clay-Chalkville. However, those are two of the better teams in the north half of 6A, so I won’t be too hard against them. McAdory is poised to win 6A Region 4 again and challenge to be the south’s representative in the Super 7, but this will be a good mid-season test for them. Region 4 is a little weak besides Hillcrest and maybe Bessemer City, so this will be a good resume builder, even though it won’t really matter for their playoff seeding.
Jon’s Pick: McAdory
Oxford (2-3, 1-2) at Vestavia Hills (3-1, 2-1) – 6A vs. 7A
This sounded like a lot better of a match-up heading into the season, but now that we are halfway through, it might not be as good as first thought. Vestavia is off to a 3-1 start, with their only loss coming to an improved Hewitt team. Their schedule doesn’t get any easier for them after this with Thompson, Spain Park and Hoover as their next three region games. So they could use a big moral booster this week.
Oxford has struggled this year, going 2-3, 1-2 in the region. Granted, two of their losses are legit against Gadsden City and Opelika, but that Valley loss makes me question them this year. They did beat Southside to open the season which was nice, but they are struggling a bit too. Vestavia should win big here.
Jon’s Pick: Vestavia
Oak Mountain (1-3, 1-2) at Briarwood (1-3, 1-2) – 7A vs. 6A
Talk about a game between two programs who desperately need a win. Both of these teams are off to horrendous starts, and their wins have come over winless teams in their region. Both were playoff teams last year, with Oak Mountain finishing second in the dreaded 7A Region 3. They are both off to extremely slow starts and a win here could provide some desperately needed momentum as they head back into region play. Oak Mountain has had the only glimmer of hope as they took Hoover to the limit before eventually losing 17-14.
It doesn’t get any easier next week as Oak Mountain takes on Hewitt-Trussville, and Briarwood faces Walker, one of the top two teams in 6A Region 5 along with Homewood (who beat the Lions by 27). So this game should be an interesting one as these two battle for king of Highway 119 in Birmingham.
Jon’s Pick: Oak Mountain
Gardendale (3-1, 3-0) at Minor (2-2, 2-1) – 6A Region 6 vs. Region 5
Both of these teams are on the rise over the last few years, and both have only lost to really good teams. Gardendale’s lone loss came to 7A Hewitt-Trussville, and Minor’s two losses have come to Clay-Chalkville and Walker. Both of these teams are playoff teams, with Gardendale projecting as a 2-seed and Minor projecting at a 3-seed.
While Gardendale has Shades Valley next, that game has lost a bit of it’s luster due to Shades Valley’s rough start. However, Minor gets Homewood next week, so a win here would be a huge momentum boost. I’m not quite sure Minor has enough to take out Gardendale, but look out for this game to be a good one. Minor won in a shootout last year 50-43, before Gardendale turned around and ended up making it to the third round of the playoffs beating Homewood out of that same region. So I think this one will be another great game to keep your eye on.
Jon’s Pick: Gardendale
Statewide Games to Watch
Opelika (5-0, 3-0) at Central-Phenix City (4-1, 3-0) – 6A vs. 7A
No doubt, this is the game of the week throughout the state. These could very well be the two teams to topple Clay-Chalkville and Hoover in the Super 7. Opelika is on fire this season and outside of a close game to Auburn, they have been unstoppable. They are actually taking their bye on week 10 due to their 7-team region schedule, so they are going to be one of the only teams to be playing their 6th game this week.
Central is also playing their 6th game of the season and will take their bye at the end before the playoffs on week 11. They had a huge win over Prattville last week to virtually give them the region title. Their lone loss is to a top ranked team in Georgia and they have been lights out since that loss in week one. Like Opelika, their only close call was Auburn, who very well could surprise teams this year in the playoffs.
Opelika gets Chelsea next week, and that will be a big game for the #1 spot in 6A Region 3. Central has a fairly easy road the rest of the season, including a game against Triple A Academy from Texas (which is a whole other story, but we’ll discuss that when it happens). I think Central wins a close one because they are flat out, one of the most talented teams, but I think this is a game to keep your eye on.
Jon’s Pick: Central-Phenix City
Jackson (4-0, 3-0) at Demopolis (4-0, 3-0) – 5A Region 1 vs. 5A Region 4
Now that Jackson has beaten St. Paul’s, they get to measure themselves up once more, this time against Demopolis. Demopolis beat Helena last week in what was probably the 5A Region 4 title game, and Jackson beat St. Paul’s two weeks ago to basically determine Region 1.
There is a good chance these two teams could meet up again in the playoffs, so this will be a good game to look at when it comes to who could be the south representative in the Super 7. Demopolis is a high scoring team, but Jackson is a bit too much in my opinion, so they win close.
Jon’s Pick: Jackson
Blount (4-0, 3-0) vs. McGill-Toolen (4-0, 3-0) – 6A Region 1 vs. 7A Region 1
This game will be another interesting one to watch as both of these teams are currently undefeated and tied for the lead in their regions. However, they both have the other 3 teams in the top 4 with them left on their schedule, so the best is yet to come for these schools. This will be a great measuring stick for both to see where they really are before they head in and face the tougher half of their schedule.
Blount still has to face Spanish Fort, Saraland, and Baldwin County. McGill-Toolen still has to face Theodore, Murphy, and Foley. If you’re in the Mobile area, no game will be better than this one. I think McGill-Toolen is one of the most improved teams from last season after they went 4-6 and missed the playoffs, however, Blount only went 7-4 and had to face McAdory in round one of the playoffs last year where they lost. So both of these teams are fighting to be king of the Mobile region in their respective classifications and a win here would mean everything. Definitely keep an eye on this one.
Jon’s Pick: McGill-Toolen