No.4 Hoover (4-5) at No.1 Florence (8-2)
Wow. That is the first reaction to this first round match up. What a prize for winning your region. It's almost as though when Huntsville and Florence played for the region championship two weeks ago Coach Wieseman's squad told Florence politely 'no, after you" as they ushered the Falcons into an empty elevator shaft. Huntsville may not have wound up much better (more on that later).
Coach Alvin Briggs' Florence squad had a great region season, but lost two of their three out of region games including last week's game to 5A Russellville 41-13.
Shawn Southward is a good solid running back for the Falcons, and he will be called upon in this game.
Hoover's quarterback Tyler Ray had a huge game last week completing 11 of 15 passing attempts for 283 yards against playoff bound Theodore.
The loss of Tristan Purifoy at wide receiver has not affected the Bucs in the win columb as of yet, but they have struggled in prior games without him.
Florence will want to win this game in the worst kind of way, but Hoover is going to want to go out a winner for Coach Rush Propst also. I think the Bucs will just be too much for Coach Brigg's squad, but it's close.
No.3 Pinson Valley (4-6) at No.2 Hueytown (9-1)
Pinson Valley lost their first seven games, although one of those losses was against Oxford and fortuitously turned into a win due to AHSAA ruling. They finished out the season with renewed energy at 3-0 allowing only six points.
The defense intercepted Springville three times last week. Running back Austin Sellers will need a big game so that the Indians can control the clock and keep the ball away from this high-powered Hueytown offense.
Coach Jeff Smith's Hueytown Golden Gophers have put up an outstanding regular season in every facet of the game. Tuscaloosa County's game against Opelika only flattered the team more. The Gophers were also defeated by the Wildcats in a 23-18 loss.
A rematch of that game may be a ways down a bumpy road to the semi-finals, but Hueytown will have to pass a couple of tests before they get there as the road may hold Hoover and Vestavia in their path.
For Hueytown, Leonard Stephens is the leading rusher with 684 yards on 75 carries, but Calvin Young is nipping at his heels with 668 yards on 81 carries. Marquis Moore only has 479 yards on 47 attempts but has a better average of 10.2 yards per carry. They have scored 26 touchdowns between them.
Quarterback Jake Lindsey has attempted only 78 passes completeing 41 for 749 yards. Not bad either.
Defensively, the Golden Gophers leading tacklers are Aeecerio Hargrove with 87 and Reggie Webster with 83.
Hueytown is just too tough. I think this is one of the best teams in the state much less the North.
No.4 Bob Jones (6-4) at No.1 Vestavia Hills (9-1)
In week six I wouldn't have bet you a nickel Bob Jones at 2-4 and Mountain Brook at 2-4 would project in the playoffs. Bob Jones turned their season around after a brutal run that saw Coach Shannon Brown's team face Buckhorn, Huntsville, Florence and Spain Park back-to-back. They turned in five consecutive wins over lesser opponents since that time.
Running the ball is Bob Jones' bread and butter, and running back Thad Everson has come up big for them on their winning occasions.
Coach Buddy Anderson's Vestavia Hills team won their region after Hoover defaulted their win by playing an ineligible player. With that in mind this was not a 49-0 blowout.
This Rebels wasted some opportunities in the 16-7 loss. Again, this is a running team and for them to be successful they could use a healthy Justin Rogers at running back. Rogers sat out last week, but the back up duo of John Appleton and Andrew Collier piled up 283 yards on a down-on-their-luck Pelham squad.
Vestavia is too tough to lose this one at home.
No.3 Northridge (6-4) at No.2 Hewitt-Trussville (8-2)
This should be a dandy of a game. Northridge is probably underrated. Tuscaloosa County had their number in the second week of the season with a 42-10 defeat. They then lost to Pelham 28-25.
Northridge put up 84 points in the next outing on winless Paul Bryant. The next loss was to Central Tuscaloosa, and many thought they wouldn't challenge this talented 4A squad, but challenge they did in a 33-31 loss. Hueytown was another close one with a 17-14 loss. Since that time they have gone undefeated. All-in-all 6-4 looks a lot better if you look a little deeper.
There are many unsung heroes in 6A and one of them is senior quarterback Will Stickland for the Jaguars. He has thrown for over 1,500 yards this year.
Other contributors are KeOnn Rutley at running back, and the standout linebacker Brandon Wilson at 6-1, 230-pounds who looks like he could play at the next level. The senior already has 78 solo tackles on the season.
Coach Mike Smith has been with this program from the outset, and that's only four years.
Hewitt-Trussville could be any kind of team in these playoffs. They defeated their heated rival Clay-Chalkville earlier in the season 16-14 to give Coach Hal Riddle his 100th victory. The Huskies then lost to Pell City in overtime 17-14. They are the only ones to defeat Gadsden City this season in a 14-3 loss.
The Huskies don't put up a lot of points, but they don't get a lot of points scored on them. The only time they have been outmatched was in a game against Oxford which was forfeited back to them after another 6A ineligible player scandal.
Quarterback Jacob Nix has good size at 6-3 and well over 200 pounds. Kicker Cameron Yaw could be the difference in this game.
This projects as a another great match up.
No.4 Pell City (6-4) at No.1 Tuscaloosa County (10-0)
Pell City has had a rough year. They made the playoffs after an Oxford forfeit and a win over Clay-Chalkville earlier. This projected as a big year for Coach Jay Brown's team, but injuries became a problem. Now they draw the short straw again and have to face Coach Robert Higginbotham's Wildcats.
Brett Booth looks like he is vying with Barrett Trotter and Coley White as one of he best quarterbacks in the state. Booth is only a junior. He was voted Player of the Week by ScoutSouth.com for his performance against Opelika last week.
Jerome Brown is solid at running back with Tide commitment John Michael Boswell upfront. The defense is led by all-heart Thomas Brown who plays well above his 6-0, 190-pound size at defensive end.
County High should cruise because they are the real deal.
No.3 Mountain Brook (7-3) at No.2 Huntsville (9-1)
Coach Chris Yeager's Spartans faced a devastating loss in the opening game when quarterback Morgan Ogilvie broke his leg and required surgery. It wasn't long until the fast-healing Ogilvie was back to save the day. The Spartans were sitting at 2-4 (they got a forfeit from Hoover later on), but once Ogilvie returned the game was on.
It is a flashback for University of Alabama fans with Ogilvie facing the intriguingly tall and thin Wesley Neighbors at defensive back for Huntsville.
Future Tider Tyler Love plays offensive line for the Spartans. Huntsville has a host of good players including Grant Streams at running back.
This is a a toss-up game.
No.4 Hillcrest Tuscaloosa (5-5) at No.1 Gadsden City (9-1)
Coach Johnny Wright moved south to Tuscaloosa from Dora this fall. To say it's been the best of times and the worst of times might sum it up. This is a young team, and with any team that has talent and inexperience they are apt to surprise you when you least expect it.
Spain Park had their way with them last week (24-0), but again a meaningless out-of-region game.
The Patriots will their hands full with Coach Joe Billingsley's defensive duo of Scout.com four-star Jerrell Harris and junior five-star Dre Kirkpatrick. This is not only a powerful duo in the state, but they are some of the tops in the country.
The Titans will need consistency on offense, but they will prevail in this match-up, but look for Hillcrest Tuscaloosa to continue improving under Coach Wright.
No.3 Buckhorn (7-3) at No.1 Spain Park (9-1)
Buckhorn lost their first game 35-21 to the New England Patriots of 4A football top-ranked North Jackson. They didn't taste defeat again until the seventh week in a 14-7 tussle with Huntsville. Florence was up next and again defeated the Bucks 33-12. Two victories over lesser opponents followed.
Coach Michael Jackson will put up defensive end Will Thompson and cornerback Alex Pitts for Spain Park's talented offense to deal with.
However, offensively, this could be a tough night for the Bucks. They will need a complete game to compete.
Coach John Grass' Spain Park may rival Daphne with their level of talent as a whole. Cody Wells, who sat out last week's win over Hillcrest, is one of the top quarterbacks.
James Willis, son of Auburn defensive coach James Willis, plays on the offensive side at running back along with Eli Smith. The star of the show is defensive end/linebacker Scout.com four-star William Green.
Hard to see Spain Park losing this one, but Coach Jackson might try to steal away with this one.
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