By D. Mark Mitchell

sports columnist

The Opelika High boys cross country team won the fifth annual Bulldog Classic Meet at the Opelika Sportsplex . The OHS girls finished third in the meet which included eleven girls and boys varsity teams and five middle school teams.
OHS junior Ben Garner finished third in the 5K race with a time of 16:54.07. Hayden Washburn (17:08.80) placed fifth, Kevin Lazenby (17:19.87) seventh, Jonathan Bizilia (17:30.80) ninth and Braden Holloway (17:36.64) finished 11th.
OHS beat state powers Hoover, Auburn,  Smiths Station and Beauregard.
Abby Alcantara finished eighth with a time of 22:59.01 to lead the OHS girls. Nikera Durr (24:04.98) finished 15th, Savannah Karl (25:05.85) 25th and Brittney Golden (25:11.96) 26th.
The OMS girls and boys each finished second in the 3K meet. The boys runners included  Andrew Parr, who finished sixth and Tykell Jones, eighth. Juqaun Coleman, Baker Rowton and Garrett Fitzwater  all finished in the top 25.
Jhenney Hoover placed 11th to lead the girls. Abby Noon, Krislynn Lane, Gracie Booher and Amy Lowery finished in the top 25.
Opelika will run in meets each weekend until the Section Meet November 5.
The OHS defense recorded their first shut out of the season while the offense and special teams scored a season high 55 points against Oxford last Friday night at Bulldog Stadium.
Head Coach Brian Blackmon applauded his team’s performance after the win, “I thought we played a complete game tonight. I told you, D.Mark, we were due to play well in all three phases (offense, defense and special teams). We started fast and set the tempo early, which is important because Oxford has a young football team. I am proud of these kids,” said Blackmon during his post game radio show on 97.7 Kicker FM.
Opelika scored the first of seven TD’s 82 seconds into the game.  QB Jake Bentley threw a 48-yard pass to James Moss for a TD with 10:38 left in the first quarter.
Jack Slay kicked 27 and 32 yard field goals, Josh Johnson scored on 1 and 7-yard runs, Kyle Fourtanbary caught a 13-yard pass from Bentley for a score, Conner Smith scored on a 1 yard plunge and Jake Bentley sprinted two yards for a TD. Slay added 6 PATs and Blackman added one PAT.
The Bulldog defense held Oxford to -33 total yards for the game. Defensive Coordinator Erik Speakman said the defense continues to improve, game by game. The shut out will give the guys confidence as we play the second half of the 10 game regular season schedule.
OPELIKA (5-0) vs CENTRAL (4-1)
Opelika will travel to Phenix City to play Central tonight in a battle of top five teams. Kickoff is set for 7p.m. CST.  The two schools have been rivals since the 1900s.     Jamey Dubose is in his second year as head coach at Central High School. Dubose  started his coaching career at Opelika as a young assistant coach under Spence McCracken. He  left for Prattville as offensive coordinator and later took over as head coach. His teams won two state championships. Dubose left Prattville to be the headcoach at Central.     The Red Devils are the best team Opelika has played so far this season. Central has speed, size and talent at every position. The offense averages 110 yards passing and 220 yards rushing.  Starting quarterback Zion Webb’s season came to an end during the opening game when the talented player injured his knee. Dubose turned to senior athlete Qaun Weaver to take over at quarterback. Weaver has  376 passing yards and 257 rushing yards which proves he is a duel threat.
Central lost the opener to Stockbridge (Ga) 13-7. The Red Devils have won four games in a row since then: 45-6 over Harris Co, 27-24 over Auburn in overtime, 39-20 over R.E. Lee and 20-10 over Prattville last week.
Opelika will need another complete game to win on the road against one of the state’s best teams. The offensive line will  face a fast defensive front. Bentley will continue to put up big numbers if he has time to throw. Josh Johnson and Tanner Blatt must be able to pick up positive yards to help keep the Central defense off balance.
Jack Slay and Jake Bentley gives Opelika the kicking and punting advantage. Chris Manley and Blatt have the ability to go the distance on any return.
Opelika will go on the road and beat Central tonight. The Dawgs will play four quarters of smart football and win the turnover battle. Our special teams will be the difference tonight.
Opelika has scored 30 plus points in all five games. I am not sure how many points we will score tonight but it will be enough for OHS to improve to 6-0.
Fans can listen to the Opelika radio crew on WKKR 97.7 Kicker FM , online at and on the i-heart radio app on your smart phone.
The pre-game show starts at 6:30 p.m. with kickoff at 7:00. I will call the game with help from Jeff Sasser, Coach Larry Gore and sideline reports from Wade Meadows.
The OMS 7th grade football game with Auburn ended in a 0-0 tie.
The OMS-7 defense gave their all, playing fundamentally sound football for the entire game. They were led by Eric Thomas, JD Tolbert, Jaylen Parker, Dino Martin, and others.
The offense just couldn’t quite get it in the end zone this week.
Both teams will meet again at the end of the year for the last game of the season in Auburn
The OMS 8th grade football team improved to 4-0 with a win over the Auburn Tigers 13-6.
Coach Martin’s defense did a great job holding the Tigers to just 6 points. The defense was led by Parker Rogers, Jaylen Torbert, and Malik Covington who had another interception this week.
The offense was led by Kani Kellum who scored on a rushing touchdown again this week. Kory McCoy threw a touchdown pass to Jaylen Stinson for the other score.
Both OMS Bulldog teams play next Thursday at Smiths Station with the 7th grade game starting at 4:30 and the 8th graders to follow.
D.Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys State director and vice president of the  A-O Sports Council.