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Six prep storylines: Wellborn, Oxford look to stay on comeback trial

Saks Weaver sights

Here come the Saks Wildcats before the Saks vs Weaver AHSAA football game. / Photo by Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star

Wellborn and Oxford on the comeback trail, Anniston headed for a big matchup with Handley, and scoring bonanzas for Saks, Alexandria and Piedmont dominate this week’s storylines. Let’s get right to them:

1. Back in black

An AC/DC song often played at Wellborn home games describes the state of the Panthers, seven games into this season.

A team that lost 30 seniors and 24 starters to graduation and more to transfer over two years went from 0-3 to 4-3 and one victory away from clinching a playoff berth. Wellborn can clinch with a victory at Weaver this week.

History shows that teams that reach the playoffs from the Class 3A region lined with teams from Calhoun County usually advance.

2. Black & Gold

Speaking of comeback teams, Oxford controls its destiny in Class 6A, Region 7.

That’s situation normal for a program that won four region titles in the past five years, but this year’s version of the Yellow Jackets lost 30 seniors and 12 transfers and went through a coaching change after 2020. They lost three of their first four games on the scoreboard, though Pleasant Grove forfeited its 61-24 victory at Oxford because of an ineligible player.

Oxford had seemingly fallen off of a cliff after winning a state title in 2019 and reaching the 2020 quarterfinals, but the Yellow Jackets stand 4-3 overall, 3-1 region after handing Arab its first region loss.

First-year coach Sam Adams deserves credit for keeping Oxford in the game.

3. Long-awaited matchup

Anniston’s game at Handley was supposed to happen a year ago. The Bulldogs forfeited, putting off their trip to Roanoke a year.

Handley won a 4A state championship last season. The top-ranked Tigers (6-0, 4-0) appear well on their way to another one.

Talented Anniston (5-2, 3-1) would love to force a three-way tie atop the region, which would happen if the Bulldogs win at Handley and Cherokee County beats Cleburne County.

4. High-scoring Saks

Saks has poured on 54, 61 and 65 points in its past three games and could very well do it again Friday, at winless Glencoe.

At 326 points in eight games, Saks (7-1, 4-1) averages 40.8 points. That’s off the 2013 team’s pace of 42.5, en route to a school-record 595 points, but not far off.

The Wildcats scored a school-record 65 points against Weaver last week.

5. High-scoring Alexandria

A year ago, Alexandria (7-0, 5-0) threatened the school’s scoring record of 588 points, set in 2005. A year later, the Valley Cubs are making another run at it.

They average 44.6 points a game, better than the 40.5 clip they had on the way to 527 points in 2020. The 2005 team averaged 42.

The 2020 team reached the quarterfinals, and the 2005 team made the semifinals.

6. Piedmont points

While we’re mentioning teams within reach of school scoring records, Piedmont (6-1, 4-1) has the highest mountain to climb but stands on pace to climb it.

The 2016 Bulldogs scored 622 points en route to a 3A state title and averaged 41.5 points over 15 games. This season’s Piedmont averages 45.1 points through seven games.

This season’s Bulldogs scored a school-record 70 points against Weaver and has three other outputs of more than 50.

Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.