(October 19, 2017)
The River Region has enjoyed several special weekends of high school football.
But it’s been a while since there’s been one like this.
No less than six games will have an impact on a region title. Some - like Park Crossing and Sidney Lanier - will decide the winner.
Others, such as Wetumpka’s trip to Opelika, may not be for the championship, but will go a long way in deciding who wins it.
There are actually three games at Cramton Bowl this weekend and all three will have playoff implications. Jeff Davis will host Prattville on Thursday. Park Crossing will play Lanier on Friay and Lee faces Central-Phenix City on Saturday.
Lanier is playing for its first region title this century.
Tallassee also plays an important region game against Leeds with a possible first-round home game on the line.
Sidney Lanier vs Park Crossing
What: Class 6A Region 2 game
When: Friday at Cramton Bowl
2017 Records: Lanier 7-0 (4-0); Park Crossing 7-1 (5-0)
Last week: Park Crossing def. Dothan, 58-14; Lanier did not play
Last year’s meeting: Park Crossing, 13-10
Series record: Park Crossing leads, 3-0
Keys: Lanier last won a region/area championship in 1978. It is the longest drought without a title among the city teams.
Outlook: It’s hard to avoid the hyperbole but this one is the most important regular season game played at Cramton Bowl in almost 20 years. Certainly that is true for Lanier, which hasn’t been involved in a game such as this since it played Lee in 2000. Yep, go back all the way to the days of Keldrick Williams and Tarvaris Jackson. The week before, the Poets had beaten Prattville in one of the most exciting games ever in Montgomery. They played Lee the following Friday before a near-capacity crowd at Cramton Bowl. Lanier lost a two-point game, which gave Lee the area title. It would be the last time Lanier would come anywhere near a 10-win season, finishing 9-2, and losing to state runner-up Daphne in the 2nd round of the playoffs. Six coaches and 17 years later, that chance returns against the new upstart program that was a win away from making the championship game just a year ago. Most of the players today were infants or not even born when Lanier had its last heyday. It’s sad but true that it’s taken this long for a return. As for the game, call it a toss up. There is enough talent to go around on both sides. This one should come down to the trenches. Park Crossing has the advantage on the offensive line while Lanier has an advantage on the defensive line. Lanier may have a slight advantage in the rushing department although T’Birds’ QB Cam Taylor is probably the best runner in the game. But the game will ultimately be in the hands of Lanier QB James Foster, who has blossomed in his senior season. He has cut down on his mistakes and has made the Lanier offense good enough to contend for a state title. If he maintains this script, Lanier should win a close one. Enjoy it, folks - this should be fun Friday night at the Bowl.
Preddiction: Lanier 30, PCHS 28
Central-Phenix City at R.E. Lee
What: Class 7A Region 2 game
When: Saturday at Cramton Bowl (11 a.m.)
2017 Records: Lee 5-2 (3-1); Central 7-0 (4-0)
Last week: Auburn def. Lee, 27-0; Central def. Jeff Davis, 55-18
Last year’s meeting: Central, 59-28
Series record: Central leads, 18-6
Keys: Last week, Lee suffered its first shut out since 2014 (Northview).
Outlook: The Lee Generals must be in the world of "Groundhog Day." Or is that Bill Murray (a.k.a. Phi Conners) that keeps waking up in the same nightmare? The Generals must feel like that right now after once again blowing a great opportunity to clinch a home playoff date and at least a No. 2 seed. Instead, they laid an egg at Auburn and now must beat the best team in the region (maybe the state). It’s the third straight year the scenario has taken place. And it’s not getting any easier. Central has the same athletes as in the last seasons and will make it difficult on Lee in nearly every catagory. The Generals will need a perfect effort. But thtat’s too much to ask.
Preddiction: Central 42, Lee 25
Prattville at Jeff Davis
What: Class 7A Region 2 game
When: Thursday at Cramton Bowl
2017 Records: Prattville 3-3 (2-2); JD 4-4 (2-2)
Last week: Central def. Jeff Davis, 55-18; Prattville def. Smiths Station, 45-0
Last year’s meeting: JD, 49-21
Series record: Prattville leads, 21-11
Keys:JD had three breakdowns in the punting game last week including having one punt blocked.
Outlook: The winner of this game is all but assured a spot in the playoffs. But if either team is to make any noise in the post season, it must iron out a few issues. JD is sruggling on defense, allowing more than 43 points per game. Prattville has been good against the lesser teams it has faced but against the likes of Lee and Auburn, has not shown the ability to win. It sets up as a showdown of teams in a similar light. JD will be at home and that’s enough to earn a close win.
Preddiction: Jeff Davis 20, Prattville 18
Wetumpka at Opelika
What: Class 6A Region 4 game
When: Friday at Bulldog Stadium
2017 Records: Wetumpka 8-0 (4-0); Opelika 5-3 (3-1)
Last week: Wetumpka def. Helena, 35-14; Opelika def. Chelsea, 37-10
Last year’s meeting: Opelika, 38-37
Series record: Opelika leads, 3-0
Keys:You have to go all the way back to 1995 to find the Indians’ last 8-0 start. That year, they went 13-1 and made it to the Class 5A semifinals.
Outlook: The Indians are already enjoying a special year. But to make it super special, a win is necessary on Friday. Opelika has been consistent over the last three years, winning the region title in each. But this is not quite the team that reached the state championship a year ago. But the Bulldogs are still dangerous and have the big-game experience. That’s what Wetumpka lacks but can take care of that problem with a victory. The Indians have the talent to win this game going away. But Opelika will figure out a way to keep it close. But the Indians’ magic season continues.
Preddiction: Wetumpka 27, Opelika 20
Leeds at Tallassee
What: Class 4A Region 3 game
When: Friday at J.E. "Hot" O’Brien Stadium
2017 Records: Leeds 7-1 (5-0); Tallassee 7-1 (4-1)
Last week: Leeds def.Childersburg, 42-20; Tallassee def. Holtville, 44-28
Last year’s meeting: Tallassee, 26-13
Series record: Tallassee leads, 1-0
Key stat: Tallassee needs a win to guarantee a home game in the first round of the 4A playoffs.
Outlook: The Tigers have been one of the most consistent teams in the area. Other than the loss to Munford, they have been solid offensively and made the plays on defense when needed. Now they get the chance to knock off a team that is considered one of the best in the state in the classification. Leeds has been solid, beating everybody but Piedmont, which is the top team in 3A. But Tallassee may be better. Leeds has put up big numbers against the region opponents but the Green Wave have saved the toughest teams for last. The Tigers win a close one at home for Homecoming.
Preddiction: Tallassee 23, Leeds 17
Also this week…
G.W. Carver at Northview: A win puts Carver in the playoffs. Tougher than expected but Wolverines get it done. Carver, 21-14.
Dothan at Stanhope Elmore: Mustangs need a Carver loss for a shot at the post season… And a win in this one. SE, 20-16.
Ashford at Trinity: Ashford scared Catholic last week. They do the same to the Wildcats. TPS, 24-23.
St. James at Dale Co: The Trojans - at least today - look to be the class of this region but need help from ACA next week to win the title. They also need to take care of business here. They do. STJ, 31-20.
Escambia Aca at Autauga Aca: Two best teams in AISA Class AA meet. This will be the first of two meetings. Autauga has too much and are at home. Autauga Aca, 39-20.
Pike Liberal at Hooper Aca.: A win keeps the Colts’ playoff chances alive. Nothing like pressure to help a team play better… Hooper, 30-27.
Other games: Central-Tusc over Marbury, 20-12; Montgomery Catholic over Bullock Co, 43-10; Montgomery Aca over Central-Coosa, 34-10; Prattville Christian over B.B. Comer, 23-14; Holtville over Elmore Co (Thur), 21-16; Billingsley over Thorsby, 30-15; Maplesville over Autaugaville, 60-0; Bessemer Aca over Edgewood Aca, 34-10; Ft Dale Aca over Hooper Aca, 29-13; Lowndes Aca over Sparta Aca, 21-19; Macon East over Kingwood, 30-13; Lakeside over Evangel Christian, 41-12.
OPEN DATE: Alabama Christian,
Last week: 19-2 Season: 135-22 (.860)