High School Week 9 Games, Predictions, and Bracketology

Two more weeks of region play left and the playoff picture is becoming clearer. A few more teams punched their tickets to the 2015 AHSAA football playoffs, but most regions still have a lot of tiebreakers to play out and there aren’t really any region championships fully decided.

First, a look at the brackets and how they are playing out now. Teams with an asterisk (*) in the bracket are already playoff eligible, although their seed may change from the projection.

7A Bracketology
6A Bracketology
5A Bracketology

So there you have it. The brackets will change less and less as time goes on and after week 10, most things should be set barring any crazy tiebreakers.

Now on to this week’s top games.

Central Alabama Games to Watch

Hoover (6-1, 4-1) at Vestavia Hills (5-2, 3-2) – 7A Region 3

Hoover can stay in the hunt for home field and potentially the region title with a win here. A loss puts them in a tiebreaker that could make them play away in Huntsville on week one, depending on what happens with their game against Hewitt next week. Bob Jones and James Clemens are the two destinations for the 3rd/4th team from region 3.

Vestavia is in a position to really only finish third at best since they have already lost to Spain Park and Hewitt. But a win in this rivalry game would be huge for the Huskies’ chances to get home field in the playoffs, and for the Rebels to potentially finish ahead of Hoover in region play for the first time since 2009. Hoover holds a 30-19 series lead over the Rebels.

Jon’s Pick: Hoover

Walker (6-1, 4-1) at Jackson-Olin (3-4, 3-2) – 6A Region 5

This is an important match-up in regards to the 6A Region 5 title. A Jackson-Olin win would vault the Mustangs into the playoff for the first time since 1999 and put Homewood back atop the region, as long as Homewood beats Hueytown. That would set up another possible region title deciding game between Homewood and Jackson-Olin next week. Walker had a shocking upset against Briarwood who has struggled so far this season, and then turned around and ended Homewood’s 25-game region winning streak the next week. Go figure. This should be a good one, but if Walker wins, the region title will most likely go their way and Jackson-Olin will have a tough time making it into the playoffs with their only game against an angry Homewood squad.

The one positive Jackson-Olin can take into the next two weeks is that they are at home. But I’m not sure it will be enough.

Jon’s Pick: Walker

Bessemer City (5-2, 3-2) at Northridge (5-2, 2-2) – 6A Region 4

These two teams share similar resumes. Two losses to McAdory and Hillcrest, who will finish first and second in their region, wins over 6A Region 6 teams, and are most likely the two final playoff candidates in region 4. This will be an interesting game because both of these teams are playing well and are playoff caliber teams. The good thing is that no matter who finishes 3rd or 4th here, the first round against a region 2 school shouldn’t be as hard as some of the other match-ups. I think Northridge has enough to beat Bessemer City, and the home field advantage will be enough.

Fun fact, I played in the first ever varsity game against Northridge. We beat them 52-7, and it was played at Northridge.

Jon’s Pick: Northridge

Gardendale (6-1, 5-0) at Fort Payne (6-1, 5-0) – 6A Region 6 vs. 6A Region 7

An interesting non-region game between the top teams in 6A Regions 6 & 7. Clay will most likely end up atop region 6, but for now Gardendale has played one more game so they are 5-0. Both of these teams get a break from region play before heading into their region championships, but this is a solid match-up that could very well be a quarterfinal game. The way these teams are trending, it is almost certainly setting up for a rematch on November 20th. If that’s the case, the game could be played at Gardendale due to the bracket setup, no matter who wins here. Fort Payne has had a good season, but I like Gardendale’s loss better. Gardendale is a team that could very easily make a run to the semi’s this year, and I like them here too.

If you want to see two potential playoff games in the regular season, I recommend checking out Gardendale this week against Fort Payne, and next week against Clay-Chalkville.

Jon’s Pick: Gardendale

Statewide Games to Watch

Auburn (3-4, 2-2) at Prattville (5-2, 2-2) – 7A Region 2

Prattville’s loss to Enterprise last week made 7A Region 2 a nightmare scenario behind Central, who has basically won the region outright. Auburn’s overall record might not be impressive, but don’t let that fool you. Outside of their loss to Sandy Creek from Georgia, their three in-state losses are to Opelika, Central-Phenix City, and Jeff Davis. Those three losses are by a COMBINED 5 points. Auburn is a good football team and would give most teams in the state a run for their money and most likely win against them all.

I just can’t explain the Prattville loss to Enterprise. But because of that loss, there is now a 3-way tie for second place in the region between Prattville, Auburn, and Smiths Station. Prattville has already beaten Smiths Station, and an Auburn win over Smiths Station would put them in the playoffs. The winner here qualifies and the loser has some work to do as Lee and Jeff Davis are right behind them at 2-3. Check this game out as it will be an amazing one. I’m not sure who would be favored in this game, but I’m leaning Auburn after last week.

Jon’s Pick: Auburn

Gadsden City (4-3, 3-2) at Hazel Green (4-3, 3-2) – 7A Region 4

Gadsden City and Hazel Green are playing in one of two “elimination games”. These games alone don’t decide the fate of the teams, but considering the remaining schedule, I’m going out on a limb and calling them as such. Both teams sit at 3-2 and need this win to guarantee their playoff spot on tiebreakers. Gadsden City can claim the third seed behind Bob Jones and James Clemens by winning out. There are only two spots remaining for Gadsden City, Hazel Green, and Buckhorn. This should be a good one with a lot on the line for both teams.

Jon’s Pick: Gadsden City

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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.