West Alabama High School Football: Week 8 Preview
Last Week’s Picks: 4-2*
This Season’s Picks: 27-9
*- Last week’s Hale County-Monroe County game was a Hale County forfeit, so it is counted as a loss for them.
With Hillcrest’s huge win over Northridge last week, the doors of Region 4 of 6A were opened wide for an arms race involving almost all of the teams in the region. Now that we’re in October with only four weeks of the regular season left, its “put up or shut up” time for teams on the edge of a playoff berth.
Hillcrest Patriots (5-1, 2-1) @ McAdory Yellow Jackets (4-3, 3-0)-
The storyline of Hillcrest’s season thus far has been the offensive power that is Ethan Crawford. Last week, against one of the best defenses in the region, Crawford passed for over 300 yards and six total touchdowns. Most of his stat lines this year have looked similar, but the bottom line is that Hillcrest has the talent for a deep playoff run.
McAdory, on the other hand, has had a tumultuous season so far. The Yellow Jackets started 0-3, but since then, they have won four straight (including a forfeit win over Helena) to bring their region record to 3-0 with a clear spot as No. 1 in the region. Even if the Yellow Jackets lose this week, they are still sitting pretty as a potential playoff team from Region 4.
Bryant’s Pick: While the Yellow Jackets defeated the Patriots in a close one last year, Hillcrest has scored at least 24 in every game this year. This will probably be a close game, but ultimately, Crawford will be the X-Factor that will give Hillcrest the win.
Northridge Jaguars (6-1, 3-1) @ Hueytown Golden Gophers (2-4, 2-1)-
Despite having 49 points scored on their defense, Northridge is much better than last week’s result. Last Friday’s loss was marred with minor injuries, penalties, and bad plays. In their other games, the combination of a quick Jaguar rushing attack and a stout defensive line led to five different wins by over one touchdown.
Since Jameis Winston started at quarterback for the Gophers in 2012, Hueytown has always been a powerhouse in central Alabama. Still, this strange year hasn’t been kind to the team. Two different times- a non-region game against Clay-Chalkville and a region game against Bessemer City- Hueytown had to forfeit games due to COVID-19. Still, the Golden Gophers have managed to get to a fourth-place spot in Region 4, where they sit at 2-1.
Bryant’s Pick: While Hueytown has an explosive offense, they are not the Gophers team of old. This year, this game will be going to Northridge. Expect the Jags to remind everyone why they deserve a spot in the playoffs.
Brookwood Panthers (1-6, 0-4) @ Paul Bryant Stampede (3-4, 1-2)-
What started as a down year for the Stampede has quickly turned around into something you don’t see too often in high school football. Since Bryant scrambled to schedule a last-minute game against Holt three weeks ago, the Stampede have recorded three straight shutout wins. Even though a playoff run doesn’t look too likely, Bryant still has a chance to continue a miracle turn-around.
Brookwood, however; is in full rebuilding mode. The Panthers’ sole win comes from a forfeit from Sipsey Valley. If Brookwood wants to win an actual game, then time is running out with only two more games after this week.
Bryant’s Pick: Bryant’s defense has seemed to come from nowhere in the middle of the season, and while it is unlikely that the Stampede could get a fourth straight shutout, it is definitely possible. Not only will Paul Bryant win big, but there might be another ‘zero’ on the visitor side of the scoreboard.
Oak Mountain Eagles (5-1, 3-1) @ Tuscaloosa County Wildcats (2-4, 1-3)-
In arguably the hardest region in Alabama, somehow Oak Mountain has emerged as a playoff-caliber team. The Eagles are having their best start since 2014, and the most wins in a season already since 2017. While two of their four remaining games are Thompson and Hewitt-Trussville, Oak Mountain can still finish strong.
While Tuscaloosa County’s playoff hopes aren’t officially out of reach, it still doesn’t look great for the Wildcats. T-County got their first region win of the year against Gadsden City and their second total win of the whole year. Don’t doubt the Wildcats’ efforts though. Under the lead of running back Damien Taylor, T-County still stands a chance.
Bryant’s Pick: Oak Mountain will win this game on Thursday, but it might not be as one-sided as many think. Still, with a predominant rushing attack by both teams, this game will be a fast one.
Hamilton Aggies (3-4, 2-2) @ Gordo Green Wave (5-1, 3-0) [Thursday @ Pickens Co. HS]-
The Aggies are newcomers to Region 5 of 4A, a region that has been dominated by Gordo. Regardless, the last time these two teams played, in 2013, Hamilton beat Gordo 33-32. This year though, Hamilton started strong with two regions wins before they lost their next two region contests. Even with a loss though, Hamilton has a small chance of slipping into the playoffs as a fourth seed.
Gordo’s first loss of the season came two weeks ago to Northridge in a close game that ultimately was decided by Green Wave turnovers. On the last turnover of the game, a fumble by Gordo quarterback Tanner Bailey, the junior Alabama recruit broke his collarbone. Bailey is expected to return later in the season, but this week, Gordo will be in the hands of someone else.
Bryant’s Pick: The loss of Tanner Bailey is very unfortunate for Gordo, but they have many athletes that will rise to the occasion. The last meetup between these teams was an Aggie win, but this year, Gordo will win a close one and remain undefeated in the region.
Berry Wildcats (5-1, 4-0) @ Pickens County Tornadoes (5-1, 4-0)-
In 1A Region 6, these two teams have both found recent success. Last year, both teams made a run in the playoffs. Past 2019 though, Berry Fayette has had a history of losing seasons, while the Tornadoes have won five region titles since 2013.
In this matchup, both teams will be battling for first place in the region. If Berry loses though, they will be tied for second with Brilliant High School, an opponent they play next week. If Pickens County wins though, they will have the sole second-place spot.
Bryant’s Pick: While both teams are having incredible seasons thus far, the Tornadoes are much more experienced with success. This is the second year in a row that Pickens County has started 5-1, and after a win on Friday, they will be 6-1.
In a busy week, Tuscaloosa will have several other big region games occurring. Central High School will take on region opponent Selma.
The Northside Rams will host a winless Curry Yellow Jackets team.
Holt High School will travel to Dallas County to play the regional foe Hornets.
Hale County will look to bounce back from a forfeit loss last week with a game against Thomasville.
And finally, the ACA Patriots are scheduled to play Wilcox Central, but the Jaguars have had to cancel every game so far. This will likely be a forfeit win for American Christian Academy.
Career Statistical Leaders: The Alabama Football Record Book