Oxford is rebounding, a power region’s playoff picture is taking shape early, Anniston’s “revenge tour” rolls on, a big test awaits Cleburne County, Jacksonville faces a suddenly critical homecoming, and Pleasant Valley wants a taste of what Weaver’s having this week.
It’s all in the storylines for this week’s action in high school football. Let’s get right to them:
1. Jackets’ new buzz
Don’t look now, but Sam Adams’ first Oxford team is 2-1, 1-0 in 6A, Region 7 … same as a year ago.
Yes, a 61-24 loss to Pleasant Grove turned into a victory because of an ineligible player, but does anyone remember how close Oxford came to losing to Pleasant Grove last year?
In the biggest of big pictures, Oxford opened region play with a victory on the scoreboard, winning at Scottsboro last week. This week, the Yellow Jackets hope to make it two region victories with Southside coming to town.
It’s a homecoming for Southside defensive coordinator Justin Bowen, who coached linebackers at Oxford under Keith Etheredge.
2. That 3A region
One quirk of scheduling last season and this season is the 3A, Region 5 playoff picture takes shape early.
Favorite Piedmont has a leg up, having beaten contender Saks last week. Saks will play Wellborn this week and Ohatchee next week. Wellborn lost to Ohatchee last week.
That means we’ll have a good idea of how teams slot into the region’s four playoff spots by midseason.
That’s not to say the playoff picture will harden. Piedmont still has games with Ohatchee and Wellborn in the second half of the regular season. Wellborn, Saks and Piedmont also play Hokes Bluff in the second half.
Things could change, but several of the region’s key games last season and this season play out before the calendar reaches October.
3. Revenge Tour, Vol. IV
Anniston stands three-fifths of the way through avenging its 0-5 start from a year ago. The Bulldogs hope to make it four-fifths Friday at Cherokee County then complete the sweep at Center Point on Sept. 24.
If Anniston wins those five games, it will have beaten every team that beat the Bulldogs on the field in 2020’s regular season.
Of course, Anniston still must go on the road to play defending Class 4A champion Handley. The Bulldogs forfeited that game a year ago.
Watch Antonio Kite, the Alabama defensive back commit who also sees time at wide receiver. He’s caught touchdown bombs in each of the Bulldogs’ last two games.
Kamron Sandlin’s big arm and Kite’ big athleticism make for quite a combination.
4. Testing Heflin’s heft
Cleburne County is off to its first 3-0 start since 2007, having outscored Ohatchee, Beulah and White Plains 106-44.
The Tigers’ biggest test yet comes Friday, when Munford comes to town in a 4A, Region 4 showdown. Munford comes in looking to right itself after taking a 40-10 beating at Handley last week.
Cleburne County comes in confident and looking to post another impressive number on its new home turf. The Tigers scored 43 points in each of their first two games, both at home.
5. Getting Golden again
Jacksonville comes into its homecoming game with White Plains facing urgency.
The Golden Eagles lost at Anniston last week in a game that just might’ve determined which team opens the playoffs at home. An upset by White Plains would put the Golden Eagles (1-2, 0-1) in a hole, with 4A, Region 4 games against Munford, Handley, Cleburne County and Cherokee County still ahead.
On the plus side, the plan is for quarterback Jim Ogle to return to action after missing the Anniston game.
Weaver is riding high this week, after ending its 21-game losing streak last week. Pleasant Valley would like a piece of that action, when Weaver comes to town this week.
The Raiders (0-3, 0-1) took a hit from graduation and transfers the past two seasons. Head coach Jonathan Nix and assistant Ronnie Preston went into classrooms to coax new players to come out this season, and the Raiders won their jamboree at Collinsville.
Inexperience showed in losses to Donoho, West End-Walnut Grove and Hokes Bluff, and the Raiders want some of that winning feeling again.