The second round of the Alabama high school football playoffs took a toll on area teams. The few and proud are left for the quarterfinals. With two teams left, Calhoun County faces the possibility of not having a team in the semifinals for the first time since 2014.
Let’s get right to the storylines:
1. Saks’ shot
Fyffe eliminated Wellborn, Ohatchee and Piedmont en route to a Class 3A title in 2020. The Red Devils beat Wellborn in the first round this year.
It’s Saks’ turn to carry the Class 3A, Region 5 banner against Fyffe. The Wildcats will have to do it on the road. Fyffe hasn’t lost at home since falling to Cleveland 21-14 on Sept. 4, 2015.
Then again, Saks beat Geraldine, the team that ended Fyffe’s 51-game winning streak earlier this season.
2. Piedmont consistency
Piedmont has made the semifinals each of the past six years and eight times under Steve Smith. To get back there this season, the Bulldogs must beat undefeated Winfield on Friday on the Field of Champions.
The Pirates have scored at least 41 points 10 games in a row and 118 points in two playoff games. Before eliminating Ohatchee 56-27 last week, they hadn’t given up more than 14 points in a game.
This could be a scary quarterfinal.
3. Climbing Mars Hill
Spring Garden has admirably overcome significant injuries to make it back to the quarterfinals for the fourth year in a row. The Panthers made the semifinals a year ago, marking a program first.
Mars Hill Bible, which moved up from 1A to 2A when Spring Garden did in 2020, ended Spring Garden’s run last season and looks to be the team to beat in 2A north. The Panthers get another shot to climb Mars Hill on Friday.
4. Handley’s road
As Handley knows all too well, the 4A south survivor earns its way to the Super 7. Rarely do teams romp through the south bracket the way Handley did a year ago, beating Vigor, Montevallo, Bibb County and American Christian by a combined score of 143-67 before beating Gordo in the state final.
Handley might get a challenge this week at Jackson. On the other side would be the Vigor-American Christian winner, and many see Vigor as the team to beat in 4A.
If the Tigers get to Birmingham, a third state-final showdown with Madison Academy could await them. Handley won the first two, in 2011 and 2016.
5. Woodland surprise
It’s no shock to see Wadley in the Class 1A quarterfinals. The surprise is a rematch with Region 5 rival Woodland.
Woodland finished the regular season 3-7, losing its final two games. All three victories came in region play. The Bobcats eked their way into the playoffs, via a 14-6 victory over Victory Christian.
They upset Cedar Bluff and Meek in the first two rounds and have another shot at Wadley, which beat them 29-0 in the regular season.