By D. Mark Mitchell

sports columnist

Opelika’s quest for a state championship ended last Friday night, with a 21-13 loss to Spanish Fort at Toro Stadium.
Fans were expecting a high scoring game, considering both teams averaged 45 points on offense. Instead, they saw a defensive struggle between two good teams.  The Toro defense, along with three OHS turnovers and multiple penalties, kept the Dawgs from scoring points.
SFHS scored two touchdowns in the first half. Jack Slay nailed a 30- yard field goal to make it 13-3 at intermission.
The Bulldogs’ only TD came in the third quarter. Jake Bentley threw a 7-yard TD pass to James Moss, Slay added the PAT to cut the lead to 14-13. Little did we know that the Dawgs would not score again.
SF three-year starting QB Tyler Pritchett threw a 5-yard TD pass to Hayden Pittman with 6:08 left in the fourth quarter for the final margin.
The Dawgs had one last chance to score, but three penalties stopped the drive and aealed the win for Spanish Fort.
The Toros will host Benjamin Russell of Alex City today in the semifinals. The winner will represent the South in the 6A state championship game at Bryant-Denny Stadium in the Super 7 finals.
I want to congratulate each player, manager, support personnel and coach for a terrific season. This year’s team won the region championship, finished 10-0 in the regular season and dominated Daphne and Hillcrest in the playoffs, finishing the 2015 season at 12-1.
The team works out year-around to prepare for the season. It was difficult for me to see the sad faces after the loss Friday. These young men  represented Opelika with class each week.
If you see a player or a coach, reach out to them with positive words of encouragement. They need to know we enjoyed watching the team play.
The OHS winter sports, wrestling, basketball and indoor track,  have started. The girls basketball team traveled to Hazel Green, near Huntsville, last weekend to play in their Holiday Tournament. The host, Lee of Huntsville, and J.O. Johnson, also of Huntsville, beat Opelika by a total of seven points.
The girls lost a thriller to Jeff Davis of Montgomery in their home opener, 82-76. The Lady Vols (J.D.) are the defending 7A state champions and have the number one player in Alabama, Jasmine Walker, who scored a game high 32 points.
The OHS boys lost to Jeff Davis in double overtime, 82-80.
The boys will pick up Kyle Fourtenbary and Charlie Benton who will join the team now that the football season is over.
I want to congratulate Beauregard, Chambers Academy and Central for having successful football seasons.
Chambers Academy, a tiny LaFayette school with just over 100 students, lost in the AISA championship game last Friday in Troy. Way to go, Chambers Academy!
Central of Phenix City lost to McGill -Toolin, 26-21, in the 7A quarterfinals.
Beauregard finished the regular season 9-0 for the first time in school history. After winning their first two playoff games the Hornets lost a heartbreaker in the 5A quarterfinals to Jackson, 31-28. The 2015 season’s record of 11-1 and the 11 wins are the most in school history.
Congratulations to all of you!
I want to wish each of you a happy Thanksgiving. I am thankful for many things, at the top is my family and two daughters, Mallory and Madison.
Happy Birthday, Mallory, 25 years young on Nov. 24.
D.Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media and the Alabama Dixie Boys State director.