ON THE MARK
D. MARK MITCHELL
The Opelika high football team “officially” started football practice last Monday, Aug. 2.
As you read this, the Dogs are less than eight days away from hosting Callaway High School at Bulldog Stadium. Opelika will play a nine-game, regular-season schedule, with five home games and four road games. The Bulldogs play in 6A Region 2, along with six other teams, Carver, Eufaula, Lee, Park Crossing, Russell County, Lanier and Valley. Two of the three non-region games are against rivals, Auburn and Central.
The following is a breakdown of the OHS football schedule.
Aug. 20, Callaway High School at Bulldog Stadium: The Cavaliers team colors are red and black. The school has 810 students enrolled in the 9th through 12th grade, and play in Class 2A in Georgia. Their head coach is Pete Wiggins, with a record of 150-47 in 16 seasons, including winning the school’s first Class 2A State Championship in 2020, beating Fitzgerald 22-17 in the championship game. Callaway will dress out 45 players.
Aug. 27, Auburn High at Bulldog Stadium: The Auburn High Tigers are royal blue and white: Keith Etheredge begins his first season as the Tigers head coach. Etheredge boast a record of 150 wins and 52 loses, winning five state championships, including last years 6A State Championship at Oxford. AHS played for the 7A State Championship last year, losing 29-28 to Thompson. The Tigers will dress out 137 players. OHS leads the all-time series 47-45-3. AHS is in Class 7A and have 2,034 students. AHS beat OHS 37-14 in 2020.
Sept. 2, Sidney Lanier at Crampton Bowl (Thursday): Sidney Lanier’s team colors are royal blue and white: Marvin Cunningham starts his sixth season as head coach with a 28-24 record. Lanier won three games in 2020: Jeff Davis (12-7), Bessemer City (12-7) and Russell County (26-17). OHS holds a 13-3 all-time series lead. Playing at Crampton Bowl on Thursday is different, but Opelika should enjoy being off Friday night after this game. OHS thumped LHS 42-6 last season.
Sept. 10, Eufaula at Bulldog Stadium: Eufaula’s team colors are red and white: Ed Rigby starts his fourth season as Tiger head coach, compiling a 23-12 in three seasons, including playoff appearances each year. The Tigers hold a 20-12 lead in the series, but OHS has won the last three games in 1994, 1995 and 2010. Prior to 1994, Eufaula’s last win was in 1973. The Tigers enrolls 574 students, only eight students from dropping to Class 5A. The Bulldogs beat the Tigers 28-21 in 2020.
Sept. 17, Carver at Crampton Bowl (Thursday): Carver’s team colors green and gold: Coach James Thompson begins his fourth season with a 19-12 record, including two playoff appearances in three seasons. OHS holds a 16-3 record in 19 games against the Wolverines, with the last loss coming in 2012. CHS posted 37 players on the roster as of this column. Coach Thompson led CHS to a 7-4 record in 2020, claiming the city of Montgomery Championship after beating Lanier, Lee, Park Crossing and Jeff Davis. OHS beat CHS 24-7 in 2020.
Sept. 24, Central (PC) on at Garrett-Harrison Stadium:
Central’s team colors are red and black. Coach Patrick Nix has an overall record of 74-27 in eight seasons. He won two 6A State Championship while at Pinson Valley (2018 and 2019). CHS advanced to the quarterfinals of the playoffs after beating Fairhope and Theodore last season. AHS beat CHS in the quarterfinals. The Red Devils hold a 46-32 record against the Bulldogs all-time, including winning the last five games. OHS last beat Central in 2015, 27-21. Central narrowly beat OHS 21-19 last year.
Oct. 1, Russell County at Bulldog Stadium:
Russell County team colors are cardinal and Vegas gold. Dillion Griggs begins his first season as head coach. The Warriors went through a difficult season in 2020 due to COVID-related issues. Last year’s head coach, Mark Rose, refused to field a team and was eventually relieved of his duties. Griggs has an uphill battle, but the administration is spending money, installing a new turf football field and a jumbotron scoreboard. Opelika is 16-0 against Russell County with the first contest occurring in 1970. OHS and RCH did not play from 2009 until 2020 when the two found themselves in the same region. OHS beat RCHS 49-7 in 2020.
Oct. 8, Lee at Bulldog Stadium:
Lee High School’s team colors are red and white. Eric Hudson begins his third season as the head coach with a 14-7 record and one playoff appearance. The Generals finished 7-4 last season, advancing two rounds in the playoffs. OHS has won eight games in a row against Lee, but only leads the series 12-11. Lee won 11 of the first 12 games, while the Bulldogs have dominated since 1998, holding a 9-1 lead. Lee’s enrollment is 1037 students in the 9-11 grades, only three students from moving to 7A. The Bulldogs shutout Lee 19-0 in 2020.
Oct. 15, Valley at Ram Stadium:
Valley’s team colors are royal blue and orange. Adam Hunter starts his second year as head coach. The Rams finished 4-5 in 2020, forfeiting the game against OHS due to COVID. Opelika and Valley are tied with an all-time series record 23-23-1. The Bulldogs have a five-game winning streak over VHS and have won eight out of the last 10 games. The Rams are trying to get the program where they can compete, like in the 70s and 80s. Valley has 578 students enrolled in grades 9-11, only seven students from being in Class 5A.
Oct. 22, Park Crossing at Bulldog Stadium: The Thunderbirds’ team colors are, navy, scarlet and white. LC Cole begins his second season as head coach. Cole is 40-53 in nine years as head coach, with stops at Sidney Lanier, Wilcox Central, Fairfield and Loachapoka. Opelika is 3-0 against PCHS. The school opened in 2014. Park Crossing has 701 students in grades 9-11. Opelika downed Park Crossing 35-7 in 2020.
Opelika, with an enrollment of 953 students, continues to prepare for the season opener on Aug. 20. Tickets will be on sale at Bubbas Medicine the week of each game.
D. Mark Mitchell is the sports director at iHeartMedia, host of “On the Mark” Fox Sports the Game 910-1310, co-chair of the Aubrun-Opelika Sports Council, chairman of the Super 7 and the Dixie Boys Baseball state director.