Bulldog football starts up with Champions Challenge

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By D. Mark Mitchell

The 2014 Opelika Football season is here!

Opelika will play Carver tonight at Crampton Bowl in Montgomery.

The game is a part of the AHSAA annual Champions Challenge. The Champions Challenge is three games – one Friday night and two on Saturday.

This is the second time Opelika will play in the CC.

The Bulldogs played Greenville the first trip. Coach Ben Blackmon, Brian’s brother, was head coach.

This year’s game will be a battle between two schools that have become rivals.

The Bulldogs played Carver in the old region every year. The two teams met in the playoffs the year Opelika won the South and played Hoover in Super 6.

This year’s game is a non-region game, but you won’t know by watching because the two teams will battle for 48 minutes like it’s for the State title.

Carver finished 10-3 last season, advancing to the final 8.

Opelika beat the Wolverines last year at Bulldog Stadium.

Carver returns 16 starters from a team that won eight out of the last nine games. The Wolverines are well coached and will be a formidable opponent.

They run a four-wide receiver set with one back in the backfield with the QB – better known as the spread.

The defense is stout, quick and fast. Points will be important. We have to capitalize on every opportunity we have to score.

Opelika’s strong point is defense.

The Dawgs have a strong defensive front and linebackers.

The secondary is young but athletic. Our defensive front must control the line of scrimmage and put pressure on the quarterback. This will help the secondary.

The offense will rely on three-year starting quarterback Mathew Christian. Christian has started more games than any member of the team.

Opelika must RUN. RUN and throw when Carver stacks the box.

The skilled players will have to make plays. OHS can’t turn the ball over and win.

The kicking game should be a strength. Punter Winston Smith T, placekickers Hunter Weygan, Chaz Blackmon and Jack Slay are returning.

LISTEN TO THE GAME ON KICKER

WKKR will continue broadcasting Opelika Athletics. This will be the 31st season on 97.7 Kicker FM.

I will broadcast the games, 35th season as Voice of the Dawgs, along with Jeff Sasser, Wade Meadows, Coach Larry Gore and Blake Smith.

Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Coach Blackmon’s pre-game show. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

CRAMPTON BOWL

Fans going to the Opelika game should be prepared to arrive early.

The City of Montgomery hired a security team to search every person entering Crampton Bowl.

Fans cannot bring any food, drinks, backpacks, bulky clothes or anything that could be used to hide a weapon. This is to ensure fans have a safe and enjoyable night.

D.Mark Mitchell is sports director for Qantum Radio, Alabama Dixie Boys State director and vice president of the  A-O Sports Council.

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