By D. Mark Mitchell
The Opelika High School volleyball team’s season ended in the Super Regionals last week.
The Lady Bulldog’s lost 3-0 to Chelsea at the Multiplex at Crampton Bowl in Montgomery.
The team reached the Super Regional for the first time in more than 10 years. Coach Robin Roberts continues to find ways to build a competitive volleyball program.
Congrats to the Opelika volleyball team.
Opelika beats Vigor 23-22 in OT
Opelika (5-4) beat Vigor (8-1) 23-22 in overtime last Friday night at Bulldog Stadium.
Prior to kickoff, Opelika recognized senior members of the band, cheerleaders and football team.
The 5A Wolves entered the game with a stingy defense, allowing fewer than a touchdown per game through seven games. The 6A Bulldogs entered the game having played a tougher schedule, however.
Opelika struck first, with placekicker Marshall Meyers nailing a 39-yarder with room to spare with 3:02 left in the opening quarter. Vigor answered with a touchdown after Kyle Walker threw a 33-yard pass to James Jackson. The Wolves missed the PAT and led by three with 11:25 left in the first half.
On the ensuing possession, Opelika quarterback Cade Blackmon threw a 40-yard pass to Will Beams for a TD.
Coach Speakman went for
the two-point conversion instead of the extra point. The conversation failed leaving Opelika with a 9-6 lead.
Opelika blocked a Vigor punt on the ensuing possession, taking over at the Wolves 5-yard line. Blackmon found Jamius Mitchell in the end zone for 5-yard TD pass. Baker Rostin added the PAT, giving Opelika a 10-point lead at intermission.
The Bulldogs attempted a 43-yard field goal early in the third quarter. Vigor defenders rushed through, blocking the kick and returning it 43 yards for a touchdown.
The Wolves’ two-point conversion attempt was successful, making the score 16-14 with 8:50 seconds left in the game.
Vigor backed Opelika to its own 4-yard line. They tied the game after tackling running back Brantan Barnett the end zone for a safety with five minutes left.
Neither team could score, forcing overtime.
Opelika started overtime on offense after losing the coin toss.
Opelika moved the ball to the three-yard line after one play. On second down, Barnett scored a TD. Rowton added the PAT to extend their lead to seven, 23-16.
Vigor answered with a TD on their possession. Artel Howell caught a 5-yard Pass from Walker.
Down one without a consistent kicker, Vigor chose to go for the two-point play.
Opelika’s defense stuffed the attempted sweep, preserving the win for Opelika.
Opelika ends the regular on a four-game win streak with an open week before hosting a first round playoff game Nov. 9.
Through nine games, Opelika is averaging 136 passing yards and 198 passing yards per game and has scored 31 touchdowns. The defense has 19 quarterback sacks and three interceptions.
Quarterback Cade Blackmon has completed 97 passes on 158 attempts for 1,070 yards. Brantan Barnett has 138 rushing attempts for 1,057 yards. Receivers Omar Holloway and Jamius Mitchell have more than 300 yards each for the season.
Jalen Stinson leads the team with 47 tackles. Malachi Tatum has 38 tackles, Tae Demunn 37 tackles and Jaquan Foote with 36 tackles.
Marshall Meyers, Baker Rowton and Stinson have handled the kicking duties.
Meyers, in his first year of playing football, has been a welcome surprise, making three field goals in the last three games.
Rowland handles the extra points and Stinson is averaging 38 yards a punt.
I️t appears that Opelika will face St Paul’s in the first round of the AHSAA 6A state football playoffs.
St Paul’s is a private member school of the AHSAA.
St Paul’s won the 5A State Championship last year in Tuscaloosa. The new AHSAA competing balance factor, a rule passed this summer, moved St Paul’s up a classification after winning the title.
Coach Steve Mask, in his seventh season, has compiled a 78-16 record including two state championships.
The Saints end their region schedule Friday night against Robertsdale.
More on the Opelika playoff game to come next week.
D. Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys State Director and vice president of the A-O Sports Council.