Guest writer Wil Crews

On the Mark
By D. Mark Mitchell

Publisher’s note: The staff of the Opelika Observer would like to offer our condolences to our friend and coworker D. Mark Mitchell on the passing of his father.

OHS (9-2) defeated Hillcrest (9-2) 28-0 last Friday at Bulldog Stadium in the second round of the AHSAA 6A playoffs. The win means the Region 2 No. 1 seed Bulldogs advance to the State Quarterfinals for the sixth straight season – this time, to face the Region 2 No. 2 seed Saraland (10-2).

Senior running back Eric Watts led the charge for the Bulldog offense and plowed through the Hillcrest defense to the tune of 212 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries. His three scores came on 75, 74 and 14-yard runs.

The first three drives ended as punts and after Watts opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 75-yard score, the Bulldogs continued to struggled on offense for much of the second quarter. During that time, however, the Bulldog defense kept Hillcrest at bay with their best chance at points being squandered when a 38-yard field goal hit the upright. OHS clawed their way to a 14-0 lead with 1 minute to go in the half after a fake punt set up senior running back JD Tolbert for a sideline-breaking 31-yard touchdown run two plays later.

When Hillcrest got the ball into scoring position for the first time in the second half, the Bulldog defense again stood their ground. Hillcrest had managed to get the ball into field goal range and were looking to cut into Opelika’s lead. However, things do not always go as planned and as Hillcrest lined up for the kick, a bobbled snap allowed senior OHS defensive back LeDamian Rowell to burst through the line and block the attempt. Shortly after, OHS effectively seized all the momentum when Watts broke out for his second 70-plus-yard touchdown run of the  game. This time it was a 74-yarder that gashed Hillcrest through the middle.

Watts finished the Bulldogs scoring with a 14-yard touchdown run with just over six minutes remaining in the game.

Watts and the OHS ground game proved to be too much for the Hillcrest defense to handle and the OHS defense managed to shut out a Hillcrest team that previously had a season-low point total of 24. 

OHS is now slated to face the Saraland Spartans in the third round of the AHSAA Class 6A playoffs on Friday. Saraland defeated OHS 24-19 in the same round of the 2018 playoffs. Saraland’s is coming off a 31-0 victory over the Lee Generals last Friday.  The Spartans are averaging 39.3 points per game on offense while only allowing an average of 11.4 to opposing teams. The Spartans had one of their two losses on the season come from a COVID-19-related forfeit and the other was a 24-21 loss to Spanish Fort. Friday’s win put the Bulldogs’ season averages at 36.0 points per game on offense and 20.0 points per game allowed for the defense. The winner will advance to the AHSAA State Semi-Finals to face the winner of Spanish Fort (10-3) and Blount (7-3) on Nov. 27.

Fans can purchase tickets online at www. for $9.40 apiece including the surcharge. You can listen to the game on WKKR 97.7 Kicker fm and online at www. You can watch the live stream on the NFHS Network at

OHS Cross Country

The Opelika High School Boys and Girls Cross Country teams participated in the AHSAA 6A XC State Championships on Saturday at the Oakville Indian Mounds Cross Country Course in Daneville, Alabama. The top performer from the boys’ team was sophomore Chas Brewer who placed No. 21 overall with a time of 17.10.77. The top performer from the girls’ team was junior Brekin Gould who placed No. 4 overall with a time of 19.18.62.

Other boy’s results: Winston Turfs 74th, eighth grader Conner Mullins 164th, Evan Goodman 162nd, William McCullough 164th, Payton Weston 170th, Zalen Shaw 174th, eighth grader Sam Kemp 181st, Trey White 197th and Jake Walters 202nd.

Other girl’s results: Paola Torres 44th, Margaret Bice 116th, Violet Alcorn 117th, Susan Gaston 122nd, Cruz Tylicki 146th, eighth grader Jasmine Jordan 163rd, eight grader Carlie Moates 168th and eighth grader Kailtlyn Brown 181st. Congratulations on a great season OHS Cross Country!