Region play begins in earnest this week in Alabama high school football, with some compelling games, teams that bounced back last week and teams that need to bounce back this week.
Let’s get right to the storylines.
1. Wellborn at Weaver
The most intriguing game of the week could tilt the scoreboard and prove decisive for a playoff seed or berth in 3A, Region 6. Weaver (1-0), with its potent zone-read combination of quarterback Robert Gaines and running back Shamar Spinks, put up 49 points in its opener against 4A Cleburne County before taking an open date to refine things last week. Wellborn (2-0) has put up 96 combined points in wins over Oak Grove and Lincoln, both 4A teams.
Go to Bill Bryan Stadium on Friday. Sit a spell. Take your shoes off. This one might take a while to finish.
2. Pleasant Valley at Piedmont
Speaking of 3A, Region 6, it’s not often we see this matchup among storylines to watch. Then again, this appears to be no ordinary Pleasant Valley team.
The Raiders (1-0) validated preseason talk of their best team in years by scoring a school-record 68 points in a rout of West End-Walnut Grove last week. Powerhouse Piedmont (1-0), meanwhile, had its early struggles against 2A Addison before winning 32-20.
With Randolph County looming next week, Piedmont can’t look past Pleasant Valley. This might be the best point in the season to catch Piedmont.
The Bulldogs hold a 17-1 edge in the series, with the Raiders winning in 1995. Piedmont has won the past 12 meetings by an average of 29.6 points, the past four by an average of 38.5.
Is this the year we want to know score updates from Pleasant Valley-Piedmont?
3. Ashville at Jacksonville
On paper, this shouldn’t be much of a game. Ashville comes in with its fourth new coach since 2012, and Jacksonville just flipped the script on rival Alexandria, turning last year’s 45-17 loss into this year’s 35-28 victory.
If the Golden Eagles were to have a letdown, this is the moment.
What makes this matchup interesting, however, is the sense that Jacksonville could be en route to a special season. The Golden Eagles have speed all over the place plus a quarterback who can get the ball to a variety of weapons and make plays himself.
Luke Jackson has thrown for more than 400 yards in two games. He throws an accurate long ball, which makes the running game with Rontarious Wiggins and Omarion Adams that much harder to defend.
4. Cherokee County at Anniston
This is a bounce-back game, as in Anniston needs to. After an offseason of hopeful talk, the Bulldogs opened with a 16-9 loss at Montgomery Catholic.
There’s no shame in that. Montgomery Catholic won 10 games last year and has steadily improved under fourth-year coach Aubrey Blackwell. It was Anniston’s first game under Rico White.
How will the dose of reality affect Anniston? Can the Bulldogs bounce back for the 4A, Region 6 opener?
5. Ragland at Donoho
On the other end of bouncing back, Donoho (1-1) did in a big way last week, beating 2A Horseshoe Bend a week after suffering a rout to Biggersville (Miss.) in the opener. Now, the Falcons, with their new Eagles-wings helmets, open 1A, Region 5 play against Ragland (0-2) at home.
Ragland’s losses have come to 4A Ashville and 2A Westbrook Christian. Donoho coach Mark Sanders expects improvement in his second year. Let’s see what the Falcons do with some momentum.
6. Pell City at Oxford
While this didn’t look like one of the murders-row games in a brutal new 6A region in preseason, Pell City is 2-0. Also, it’s a rivalry game and homecoming for Oxford (2-0), which will play the first game on new turf. The Yellow Jackets’ defense remains nasty, giving up just six points in routs of Munford and Gadsden City.