By D. Mark Mitchell
For the Opelika Observer
Callaway High School defeated Opelika, 35-21 in the season opener in LaGrange last Friday night.
Neither team managed to score any points in the first quarter. Senior Bulldog quarterback Cade Blackmon tossed a seven-yard pass to Jamius Mitchell for the first score of the game with 5:01 left in the first half. Baker Rowton added the extra point to give Opelika a 7-0 lead.
Callaway tied the game on a 17-yard scoring run from Jacob Freeman with 1:24 left in the first half.
The Cavaliers scored two touchdowns in the third quarter on runs of one and 17 yards. The Bulldogs scored a touchdown on a 20-yard from run Erik Watts.
Leading 21-14, Callaway scored two TDs in the fourth quarter to put the game away. Brantan Barnett scored on a four-yard run with 2:53 left in the game.
Offensive highlights included Callaway running back Tank Bigsby rushing for 200 yards and three scores, Blackmon completing 16-of-24 passes for 131 yards with a touchdown and interception, Barnett rushing for 189 yards on 25 attempts, and Omar Hollaway and Mitchell adding 47 and 72 receiving yards, respectively.
The defense was led by Jaylen Stinson’s 12 tackles (10 solo) and Malachi Tatum’s one sack.
OPELIKA (0-1) VS AUBURN (1-0) AT DUCK SAMFORD STADIUM
Opelika and Auburn’s 93rd meeting will be held Friday at Duck Samford Stadium, with kickoff set for 7 p.m. Opelika leads the series 46-43-3.
Auburn’s 17-13 win last season snapped the Bulldogs three-game win streak against their cross-town rival. Since the “Joe Wilson era” began, the Bulldogs have won 24 of their previous 37 games with the Tigers.
Auburn opened with a 41-0 win over an underhanded Wilcox-Central last Friday at home. The Tigers scored early and often, as quarterback Griffin Speaks threw four touchdown passes in fewer than 14 minutes.
The Tigers scored their sixth and final TD with 5:40 left in the first half. The two teams agreed to run the clock in the second half, with neither team scoring.
Auburn’s victory comes against a school that has not had a winning record in more than 10 years.
Auburn’s Adam Winegarden, in the midst of his fourth season, is 1-2 against Opelika. This will be the first Opelika/Auburn game for Erik Speakman as the Bulldogs’ head coach.
Since 2003, only four contests between the two schools have been decided by eight points or more. This is the second-straight road game for the Bulldogs and the second home game for the Tigers.
The team that establishes the run, stops the run, wins the overall turnover battle and has quality special teams play stands a good chance of winning this game. The home team has lost four of the last five games.
There is no questions that the Opelika v. Auburn football game is a huge game for both schools, teams, cities and fans. However, it is important to remember this is not a region game and the two are in separate classifications.
Tickets can be purchased online at gofan.co.
AREA HIGH SCHOOLS
Several local high school teams won big games last Friday night.
Smiths Station defeated Russell County, giving first-year head coach Mike Glisson a win in his debut as the Panther’s head coach.
Buster Daniel took his Valley Rams to Morgan-Washburn Stadium in Lanett for their annual rivalry game. The Rams stunned the defending 2A state champions with a 28-22 win on the road.
Beulah beat Lochapoka 33-6, giving Flournoy his fourth career win after one season and one game.
Beauregard lost their first game to Benjamin Russell 35-20 after winning their three previous meetings.
Lee-Scott is 0-2 after losing to Fort Dale 40-18.
You can listen to the “High School Coaches Show” each Wednesday live from Moe’s Bar-B-Q at Bent Creek on 97.7 Kicker FM. Fourteen area head coaches will gather each week to discuss their season and team. The show can be heard online at kickerfm.com, iHeart Radio app and on 97.7 FM.
D. Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys State Director and vice president of the A-O Sports Council.