By D. Mark Mitchell
The Opelika Bulldogs were off last Friday night because of Greenville High School’s decision to back out of an agreement to play Opelika Sept. 28. Greenville officials informed Opelika of the decision in the spring, after most high schools schedules are already finalized.
Thompson High School, also on a bye last Friday, offered to play Opelika in a two-game home-and-away series after finding out that both teams were open. Opelika declined the offer, leaving an open date after five games.
Opelika (1-4 overall, 1-1 in region play) travels to Alexander City to play Benjamin Russell (4-2 overall, 1-1 in region play) at the Charles Bailey Sportsplex at 7 p.m. Friday, for a huge region game.
The Wildcats defeated Beauregard 35-20, Central Clay 28-23, Selma 25-20 and Chilton County 21-13. Stanhope Elmore and Demopolis beat Benjamin Russell 19-0 and 30-10, respectively.
Both teams have first year head coaches.
Wildcats’ Coach Kevin Smith, like Erik Speakman, was promoted to the head coaching position after serving for many years as an assistant.
The two teams have identical 1-1 region records and have played one common opponent, Selma at home.
Opelika thumped the Saints 66-6 while Benjamin Russell escaped 25-20. The Wildcats, coming off a 23-13 win over Chilton County Sept. 21, have been outscored 121-125.
KEYS TO VICTORY
Opelika hits the road for the fourth time in six games. Benjamin Russell will be playing its fourth home game, including its second at home in a row.
You may be asking yourself, ‘why is Opelika playing Benjamin Russell in Alexander City two years in a row ?”’
The AHSAA reclassifies every two years which results in schools changing classification and Regions.
Opelika’s new region consists of six teams including: Stanhope Elmore, Selma, Calera, Benjamin Russell and Wetumpka.
Despite being off to their worst start since 1980, Opelika can finish second in the region and host a first-round playoff game by winning their next three games. The Bulldogs can finish 5-4 overall by winning their final four games.
Although Benjamin Russell is 4-2 and playing at home,
look for the Bulldogs to bring home a “W” Friday night. Hopefully, the week off helps the players recover from injury and the wear and tear a body endures playing football.
ON THE AIR
Fans can listen to the broadcast of Opelika vs Ben Russell on WKKR 97.7 Kicker Fm or online at kickerfm.com, starting at 6:30 p.m.
High school football fans can keep up with high school football by tuning in to our i-Heart radio stations.
You can listen to “On the Mark” Sports radio show, from 7-9 a.m. Monday-Friday on WTLM 1520 AM and online at wtlmam.com/listen live or download the i-Heart Radio app and search “On the Mark.”
OHS / MAINSTREET GYM
Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller, making an appearance on “On the Mark” Radio show, announced the City of Opelika will help renovate the Mainstreet Gym inside Opelika High School.
This gym was part of the original school that opened in 1974. Opelika City Schools built a new smaller gym several years ago in an attempt to upgrade basketball facilities.
“We have a first-class School, first-class performing arts center, first-class band and choir buildings, first-class stadium and indoor faculty, baseball field and track,” Fuller said.
“Our kids deserve better. Coaches (Devin) Booth and (John) Wadsworth are wonderful coaches and they deserve better. It will be better for all when completed”
Fuller said the process has started and did not mention details or expected date of completion.
D. Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys state director and vice president of the A-O Sports Council.