Cross Country heads toward state title competition

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By D. Mark Mitchell

Sports Writer

 

CROSS COUNTRY

The OHS cross country teams are competing in the sectional meet at Gateway Park in Montgomery yesterday and today. Yesterday’s results were not available at press time.

Opelika’s boys should dominate their portion of this meet. Coach Benetez  expects his team to not only win the Sections but win that “Blue Map.” The AHSAA State Championship trophy configuration is the same as the map of Alabama.

Speaking at “Bulldog Night” in October, Coach Benetez made it clear what he expected his team to accomplish. “I believe we have the best cross country team in Alabama! We have a group of seniors that are peeking at the right time. The underclassmen are being pushed by the seniors. Our young runners are competing against the best runners in the state every day. This is a good problem to have,” said Benetez.

Senior Ben Bryant is ranked number one in the state by Alabama runners.com, the state website for cross country. Senior teammates Kane Barrett and Andrew Bartlett  along with sophomore Ben Garner, juniors Kevin Lazenby, Hayden Washburn, Jonathan Bizilia and freshman Kevin Lazenby make up the group that could lead Opelika to the title.

The Bulldogs will compete for the state title in two weeks in Cullman. Homewood will be the main competition for Opelika in the state meet.

The OHS girls are also competing in the sectionals. Coach Blatt, in her first year, is trying to build the Opelika program with young runners. The girls are improving and could also advance to the state meet with a good performance at the sectional meet.

I will have the complete results in next week’s column.

OPELIKA vs ENTERPRISE

The Opelika Bulldog football team, 7-1 overall (8-1 if you count Carver) travels to Enterprise to play the Enterprise Wildcats in their last regular season game. Enterprise finished in a tie for fourth in their Region but lost the tiebreaker to make the 7A state playoffs.

Opelika will host Wetumpka Nov. 7 at Bulldog Stadium in the first round of the class 6A state playoffs. The Dawgs were off last Friday, which is a good thing because we needed the rest and the healing time. If we play for the 6A state championship, it will be seven weeks away. So we are now at the halfway point of our season if we make it all the way.

Playing Enterprise on the road is similar to playing a second or third round playoff game. Coach Blackmon agrees with that statement. Speaking on my morning radio show, he talked about this game: “This trip will prepare us for a trip to Mobile if we advance that far in the playoffs. This is a quality opponent that has beaten some good teams including Auburn. They are very good on offense but seem to have issues stopping teams in the crunch.”

I believe we will win a close game tonight. Enterprise will play as hard as possible because this is their last game of the season. What better way to end a season when you lose a playoff spot due to a tiebreaker, by beating the number two ranked team in 6A, Opelika.

This will be a good test for OHS after a week off and dominating our Region. We need a close game before the playoffs.

Yes, that’s right, I want a close game. We pretty much coasted through our Region. The close games were between Auburn and Central, both 7A schools and both earlier in the season. In order for Opelika to win the championship, we need to win a close game. Now, make no mistake, we need to win it; we just need the other team to make a game out of it.

The Bulldogs are a better team than Enterprise. We can win the game if our defense stops the Wildcat offense. The OHS offense will move the ball in the air and on the ground.

LISTEN AND WATCH OPELIKA vs ENTERPRISE 

Fans can listen to tonight’s Opelika vs. Enterprise game on WKKR 97.7 Kicker FM and online at www.kickerfm.com

You will hear former OHS Coach Larry Gore and former QB Jeff Sasser analyze the game, former OHS player  Wade Meadows reporting from the sidelines while I (D.Mark Mitchell) provide the play-by-play on the radio.

You can also watch the Opelika/Enterprise game on the Internet for a small fee. Go online to www.thedawgnetwork.com or www.opelikaschools.com and look for the blue and red NFHS logo. Click this logo and you will be directed to the NFHS broadcast page where you can designate Opelika football. You can purchase one game at the time or several in advance. Look over the plans before you make a decision.

BULLDOG NIGHT

The Opelika All-Sports Booster Club will host “Bulldog Night” Nov. 4 at 6:30 p.m., at Niffer’s on the Tracks in downtown Opelika.

Bulldog Night is open to anyone interested in Opelika athletics. No membership or dues, just a night where you will hear updates. Girls and boys basketball coaches will speak about the upcoming season. Players from each team will be present. Purchasing food is not required.

OPELIKA FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS

The AHSAA High School State playoffs start next Friday night. Opelika will host Wetumpka at Bulldog Stadium.

This is a reminder: All seats are general admission, first-come, first-served. The AHSAA is in charge of all tickets, which are $8 per game and required for all fans.

Tickets will be on sale at Rice Banking, Bubba’s Medicine Shop and Victory Designs starting Tuesday morning. (Tickets might be available after noon on Monday.) Bulldog Stadium gates open at 5:30 p.m. The ticket office opens at 5 p.m.

CORPORATE SPONSORS

Corporate Sponsor parking will remain effective throughout the home playoffs. All stadium policies will be in place for playoff games. You must have a Press Pass to be on the sidelines.

Mitchell is sports director for I-Heart Media.

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