By Fred Woods
The Opelika Chiefs won their second- round playoff game against the Georgia Cardinals, 38-0, at Beulah’s Bobcat Stadium last Saturday night to advance their season’s record to 11 – 1 and set up the American Conference Championship game with the #1-ranked Prattville Patriots in Prattville this Saturday night at 6 p.m. (note the change in time!). The winner of that game will play the National Conference champions for the national championship in New Orleans on June 24.
The Patriots beat the Chiefs on March 25, 29-28, giving the Chiefs their only 2017 loss, and their only regular-season loss in their three-year history. The Chiefs had the ball four times inside the Patriots’ 10-yard line in the fourth quarter of that game and failed to score. So, the Chiefs have plenty of incentive in addition to the conference championship going into the game.
In the Cardinal game, the Chiefs defense once again shut down a high-powered offense, scoring two safeties and racking up five QB sacks and one interception. Vashon Landers, Greg Moss, Rod Marshall and Jamarlo Alford led the way for the Chiefs’ defense. Landers and Marshall each had two sacks. Alford recovered a fumble for one touchback; the other two-pointer was fumbled out of the back of the end zone.
The Chiefs offense didn’t put up gaudy numbers, but they scored 38 points against one of the toughest defenses in the American Conference. Kyle Caldwell passed for 135 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 50 yards and another score. His backup, Raymond Graham, was two for three for 36 yards and another score. Graham, who last week signed a scholarship to play college football at Faulkner University, was also the leading pass receiver with three catches for 73 yards.
Torrey Duster, Juterious Vincent and Ralph Spry each caught TD passes and each was a thing of beauty. Vincent took his TD reception away from two defenders.
Ky-Shawn Powell scored on the ground and Will McKenzie added two 2-point conversions. Mike Eiland led all rushers with 87 tough yards. In addition to Caldwell’s 50 yards, TJ Griffen rushed 12 times for 78 yards while Rod Whetstone ran for 41 and McKenzie added 35 yards.
Over in the National Conference, the Mississippi Dynasty will play the Hiawayi Robinson Falcons of Pritchard, Ala., for that championship and the right to play in New Orleans the following week. That game will be played in Jackson, Miss.