ON THE MARK
D. MARK MITCHELL
Callaway High School (Georgia) scored nine points in two seconds to beat Opelika 30-21 in the season opening game at Bulldog Stadium last Friday night.
The two teams were neck-and-neck all game until Cavalier kicker Blake Eubanks nailed a 29-yard field goal with two seconds left in the game, giving Callaway a 24-21 lead. On the ensuing kick-off Opelika, tried several laterals in an act of desperation which resulted in a fumble, and was returned for a Callaway touchdown as time expired.
From the first kick-off, the first half was a defensive struggle. The two teams went to half with Callaway leading 7-0. CHS scored its first touchdown on a 45-yard pass from Deshun Coleman to Carlos Billingslea. It wasn’t until the third quarter that Opelika’s Jarrell Stinson tied the game, running 10 yards for a touchdown. Charles Gagliano made the PAT. The Cavaliers answered with a 67-yard touchdown pass to Quendarious Redding.
Stinson then tied the game by scoring his second touchdown on a 22-yard reception. Gagliano made PAT with three minutes left in the third quarter.
CHS outscored OHS 16-7 in the fourth quarter. Kaden Cooper scored the Dogs only touchdown in the final quarter on a 20-yard run. Gagliano added the PAT.
For the night, Callaway out gained Opelika on offense, 317 yards to 202 yards. CHS rushed for 105 yards and threw for 212 yards. The Bulldogs offense struggled for a good portion of the night, rushing for 64 yards and passing for 138 yards. The Dogs were also sloppy with the ball, turning it over five times by way of three fumbles and two interceptions.
Individually, OHS quarterback Jackson Bates threw for 64 yards; Stinson added 78 yards rushing. Defensively, Taylor Love and Nick Covington recorded five tackles and eight assists. George Meyers punted five times for a 42-yard average, with 47-yards being his longest.
OPELIKA HOST RIVAL AUBURN AT BULLDOG STADIUM
Opelika (0-1) host Auburn (1-0) Friday night at Bulldog Stadium. Kickoff at 7 p.m. The Tigers hired Keith Etheredge in the offseason as head coach after Adam Winegarden resigned to take the head job at Tuscaloosa County. Etheredge, 151-62 and five state championships, left Oxford after winning the 6A State Championship last season to take the Auburn job.
Auburn began its season by dominating Park Crossing last Friday, 45-0, at Duck Samford. The Tigers scored early and often against the Thunderbirds, coached by LC Cole.
Opelika and Auburn will be playing for the 96th time Friday night. The series is very balanced, with Tigers holding a two-game lead historically: 47-45-3. The first game was in 1917, a 57-0 win for AHS. The two teams are 5-5 in the last 10 games, but Auburn has won two in a row and three out of the last four games.
AHS has five players starting that transferred in from other schools – all bonified moves. The offensive line may be the biggest high school front in Alabama. The AHS defense is coached by last year’s 7A Assistant Coach of the Year, Scott Goolsby.
Opelika will need to improve and not have as many turnovers Friday night in order to win the game. Most coaches will tell you, “Teams make the biggest improvement from game one to game two”. On paper, Auburn has the edge and should be the favorite to win the game but Opelika ALWAYS plays hard against its rival, AHS. Hopefully, the Bulldogs will play an error-free game and control both lines of scrimmage.
Fans can purchase tickets at Bubba’s Medicine Shop and Victory Design until Friday afternoon. The Bulldog Stadium ticket office opens at 5:30 Friday night. The game will be broadcast on WKKR 97.7 Kicker FM, online at kickerfm.com or on live stream at NFHSnetwork.com. Visiting fans must purchase tickets online at www.gofan.co.
D. Mark Mitchell is the sports director at iHeartMedia, host of “On the Mark,” Fox Sports the Game 910-1310, co-chair of the Auburn-Opelika Sports Council, chairman of the Super 7 and the Dixie Boys Baseball state director.