Entering Week 10 of the high school football season, five area teams have clinched playoff spots, and one must beat a playoff-bound team Friday and get help to reach the postseason.
Sylacauga, Talladega, Fayetteville and Victory Christian will all have to travel in the first round, while Lincoln, the Class 4A, Region 4 champion, will get to host at Keith Howard Memorial Stadium.
Here’s a look at the area teams that are in and the lone squad that still remains in contention. Spoiler alert -- it’s B.B. Comer:
Class 5A, Region 5
Sylacauga (8-2, 5-2), third in region
The Aggies secured their postseason opportunity by earning a hard-fought 29-22 overtime victory over region and county foe Munford (5-5, 3-4) in Week 9.
Sylacauga senior running back Jordan Ridgeway punched in the 1-yard, go-ahead touchdown, and Aggies defensive back Gabe Cox picked off Munford quarterback Jay Tuck in the end zone on the Lions’ overtime possession.
Sylacauga senior kicker Cole Porch potentially put himself on the recruiting radar by drilling a 54-yard field goal as time expired to get the Aggies to overtime. Porch’s kick tied for the seventh longest in state history and set a new watermark for future Aggies kickers to surpass.
The Aggies have an open week to prepare for their first-round playoff opponent, Region 6 runner-up Alexandria (7-1). The teams will meet Nov. 8 at Lou Scales Stadium at 7 p.m.
Class 4A, Region 4
Lincoln (7-2, 6-0), first in region
The Golden Bears swept through region play and survived what Lincoln head coach Matt Zedaker called a six-round prize fight in doing so. In five of those matchups, Lincoln secured blowout victories, but the fourth-round fight against Handley, a 34-30 win for the Golden Bears, proved to be the biggest challenge.
Zedaker’s bunch will host Montevallo (6-3), the Region 3 runner-up, to close out the regular season Friday night at 7, and it remains to be seen how much work Lincoln’s starters will get in this contest. The Golden Bears may not want to put quarterback Javion Surles at risk of missing a playoff game for the second straight season. Surles suffered a torn ACL in the Golden Bears’ regular-season finale last year.
The Golden Bears will host Dallas County on Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. in the first round of the 4A playoffs.
Talladega (5-3, 4-2), third in region
The Tigers battled Handley in Week 9 to see who would claim second place in region play. Handley prevailed 41-14.
With losses to both Lincoln and Handley, Talladega’s victories over the remainder of the region locked the Tigers in as the third seed.
Talladega will close the regular season against 5A Moody (3-6) on Friday night at 7. Tigers head coach Shannon Felder will have to weigh his options when it comes to getting starters rest versus trying to recapture some momentum before a first-round playoff matchup at Montevallo on Nov. 8 at 7 p.m.
Class 2A, Region 4
Fayetteville (6-3, 3-3), fourth in region
In perhaps the most baffling matchup in terms of statistics, Fayetteville defeated Vincent 14-12 on Thursday despite being outgained on offense 307 yards to 86.
Wolves senior Blake Machen got through the Yellow Jackets’ protection, blocked a punt and returned the ball for what was the game-winning touchdown.
Fayetteville will finish up regular-season play by traveling to Legion Stadium to face rival B.B. Comer on Friday at 7 p.m. After the Wolves’ victory over Vincent, head coach John Limbaugh told his team they plan to give the Tigers a fight and try to end Comer’s quest for a postseason berth.
Class 1A, Region 5
Victory Christian, (5-4, 3-3), fourth in region
The Lions finished region play in a three-way tie with Appalachian and Winterboro, so to sort out who made the postseason, officials had to go all the way to Alabama High School Athletic Association Tiebreaker N -- “The team whose defeated opponents have the most victories.”
The Eagles, by virtue of their defeated opponents having 14 victories with potential to top out at 18 after Friday night, earned the third seed. Victory slid into the postseason ahead of Winterboro for the final playoff spot due to its head-to-head victory (the Lions knocked off the Bulldogs 21-14 at Winterboro on homecoming).
Victory will travel to Reform to face Region 6 champion Pickens County (8-1) on Nov. 8 at 7 p.m.
Class 3A, Region 6
B.B. Comer (4-5, 3-4), fighting for fourth in region
The Tigers remain in contention in a region that features two three-way ties -- one for the top three spots that has already been settled (Piedmont is the champion, Randolph County is the runner-up and Wellborn is third), and the latter featuring the Tigers, Pleasant Valley and Saks for one remaining playoff spot.
Comer’s playoff hopes come down to Tiebreaker N. A win over rival Fayetteville and a Raiders’ loss to Ohatchee is the simplest path to get in, but there are a plethora of games factoring into this tiebreaker scenario.
If Comer comes out of this battle with the final postseason berth, it would travel to Fultondale (7-2) on Nov. 8 at 7 p.m.
Winterboro (6-3), Munford, (5-5), Childersburg (3-6), Pell City (2-7), Ragland (2-8) and Talladega County Central (0-9).