By D. Mark Mitchell
Auburn High (2-0) head football coach Adam Winegarden brought his Tigers to Bulldog Stadium last Friday night with an 0-2 record against the Dawgs. Opelika (1-1) entered the game with a three-game win streak over its rival, including a 28-0 victory at Duck Samford Stadium last year.
When the final horn sounded, the visiting side erupted with enthusiasm and applause, after watching their team beat Opelika 17-13 in a thriller.
The Bulldogs scored 13 straight points with 6:26 left in the first quarter. Cameron Tolbert intercepted a Brooks Fuller pass and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown. Tyler Sellers added the PAT to make it 7-0. Cade Blackmon threw a TD pass to CJ Jordan for a 30-yard TD to extend the lead to 13-0. The two-point conversion failed.
Auburn scored their first touchdown of the game with 6:10 left in the first half. Fuller threw a 15-yard pass to Garrett Jones for a TD, Atkins added the PAT to make it a six-point game, 13-7 at intermission.
AHS moved within 3 points, 13-10, after Atkins made a 27-yard field goal with a minute left in the third quarter. With 10 minutes left in the game, Brooks Fuller plunged into the endzone from a yard out to give Auburn the lead 17-13 after Atkins added the PAT. Opelika could not mount an offensive drive in the second half, partly due to penalties. Three-straight drives stalled after penalties nullified first downs.
With the loss, Opelika falls to 1-1 overall and will host Carver Friday at Bulldog Stadium, with kickoff set for 7 p.m.
The Dawgs look to rebound Friday against Carver in a non-region game. The Wolverines are 0-2 after losing 27-0 to Auburn and Jefferson Davis 23-12. Willie Spears is in his first year as head coach after replacing the retired Billy Gresham.
Opelika looks to rebound and improve before playing two-straight region games against Chilton County and Benjamin Russell.
The Dawgs will try to regroup after the physical game against Auburn. Several players are nursing injuries and will see limited playing time. Regardless of the situation, Coach Ross wants his team to improve and eliminate penalties.
“I will not tolerate our kids losing their composure. We cannot allow ourselves to lose control and hurt the team with a silly penalty,” said Coach Ross after the loss.
I believe Opelika will have a good week of preparation and play well Friday night.
OMS SWEEPS LONG CANE
The OMS seventh and eighth-grade football teams opened the season with wins over Long Cane last week.
The seventh-grade team won 34-0 after four touchdowns from Kaden Cooper. OMS used a strong rushing attack to win, Tre Almacen scored a touchdown on a 1-yard run. The defense was led by Jake Smith, Antwone Fields, Debo County and Will Garner.
The eighth-grade football team beat Long Cane 39-0 at Bulldog Stadium last week. Jarrell Stinson, Jackson Baites each scored two touchdowns and Jalin Atkins added a rushing score. Charles Gagliano handled all kicking duties. Luke Murray threw a pass to Trey Roberts for a two-point conversion.
The defense was led by Jackson McLeod, Tylik Hambrick, Tae Hardnett, Taylor Love and Jaden McGhee.
Both teams will play Benjamin Russell Middle School Thursday at Bulldog Stadium. Seventh grade kicks off at 5 pm.
CROSS COUNTRY HOST INVITATIONAL SATURDAY AT SPORTSPLEX
The OHS boys Cross Country team finished sixth in the “Trinity Trailblazer Invitational” last Saturday in Montgomery. Michael Criss placed 19th to lead Opelika. Tykell Jones and Alex Varghese finished 34th and 35th, respectively.
The OHS girls finished sixth. Savannah Karl placed tenth to lead Opelika while teammate Abigail Noon placed 28th.
OHS will host the Opelika Invitational Saturday at the Sportsplex. The meet starts at 8 a.m. with the middle school meet followed by girls and boy’s varsity teams. This is the largest number of teams since the meet started. Fans are encouraged to come early and enjoy the meet.
D.Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys State director and vice president of the A-O Sports Council.