Cross country to host Bulldog Classic Sept. 19

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OPELIKA CROSS COUNTRY HOST ANNUAL “BULLDOG CLASSIC”
The girls and boys cross country teams will host the fifth annual Bulldog Classic Meet tomorrow morning at the Opelika Sportsplex. The girls start at 8 a.m.; boys follow at 8:30 and middle school goes after the varsities are completed.
The team competed in the Carrolton Orthopaedic Clinic Invititational last week in Georgia. The boys finished sixth out of 25 teams while the girls placed 16 out of 22 teams.
Ben Garner led OHS boys, finishing 14th. Remaining boys team members are Kevin Lazenby, Hayden Washburn, Jonathan Bizilia, Braden Holloway, Marcus Chandler, David Bretz, Givion Clark, and Jacob Walker.
The girls team consists of Abby Alcantara, Nikera Durr, Savannah Karl, Brittney Golden, Sarah Brewer, Shakerra Forbes, Alysha Land, Tykiera Evans and JaKyra Chambers.
Come out tomorrow morning and watch the cross country teams compete. Twelve teams including Auburn and Hoover will participate.
OPELIKA
FOOTBALL 4-0
The Opelika High football team (4-0, R-2-0) overcame a rain and lightning storm and defeated Pell City, 37-6, last Friday night on the road.
Pell City kicked a 42-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead with 5:33 left in the opening quarter. While the teams were preparing for the ensuing kickoff, two large bolts of lightning followed by two loud rumbles of thunder forced the game officials to clear the field.
Heavy rain set in for 65 minutes with bolts of lightning striking in the distance. Play resumed after a 75 minute delay.
Tanner Blatt fielded the kickoff and sprinted 68 yards for a TD which gave the Dawgs the lead, 7-3 after Jack Slay added the PAT.  The return by Blatt meant more than one might think. The natural grass field was in awful shape; water puddles could be seen all over and the ground looked like quick sand. You could see chunks of turf laying all over due to the players’ shoes trying to gain traction.
Both teams had trouble running their offense. Opelika’s defense and wet conditions caused this for Pell City. The conditions stopped Opelika more than the Panther defense. Tanner’s score allowed Coach Blackmon to rely on his defense to win the game while trying to find something that would work offensively in the slop.
Opelika’s defense allowed -22 yards of offense and zero points after the first quarter field goal.
The Bulldogs’ special teams, under Coach Buster Daniel, continued to dominate the opponent. Jack Slay booted a 37-yard field goal, was perfect on every PAT and continued to kick the ball inside the three yard line on kickoffs. Chris Manley added a 63-yard punt return for a TD.
Jailen Marshall scooped up a fumble in the end zone for a TD, while Tanner Blatt and Josh Johnson scored TDs on the ground.
OXFORD (2-2) at OPELIKA (4-0)
The Dawgs return home to host the Oxford Yellow Jackets tonight at 7 p.m. This is the first trip for Oxford to Bulldog Stadium. The two region foes played for the first time in history last year in Oxford.
Oxford has a history of good football. One example, the head coach at Jacksonville State (Auburn University’s opponent last week), John Gross, was once the head coach at Oxford. Oxford High usually goes deep in the playoffs.
The Yellow Jackets are 2-2, beating Southside 24-9 and Chilton County 42-7, while losing to Gadsden City 41-19 and Valley 30-13. The offense has scored 98 points and the defense has allowed 77 which averages out to scoring 24 points and allowing 19 points per game.
KEYS TO VICTORY
The Bulldogs are averaging 36 points per game on offense while allowing 20 points per game. QB Jake Bentley is 54 of 107 for 845 yards, seven TDs and five interceptions. The rushing attack has 716 total yards, Josh Johnson has rushed for 414 on 83 attempts,  Tanner Blatt has rushed for 192 yards on 54 carries and Jake Bentley has added 109 on 21 attempts.
The defense continues to improve game by game. Tonight should be no different.
The weather forecast calls for a near perfect night with temperatures dipping in the middle 60s; rain should not be an issue.
Look for the offense to have a productive night, scoring 30 or more points while racking up lots of yardage. Coach Blackmon will continue to let QB Jake Bentley use his arm, throwing to Moss, Fourtanbary, Heard, Blatt, Florence, Johnson and Worth. Tanner Blatt and Josh Johnson will run for big yards tonight.
This will not be a easy game but look for the Bulldogs to play well in the friendly confines of Bulldog Stadium.
This will be the Dawgs’ third region game of the season; a win is important to win the region championship. Opelika travels to 7A rival Central next week, a non-region game but a game all Bulldog fans want to win.
LISTEN TO OXFORD VS OPELIKA
Fans can listen to every Opelika game on WKKR 97.7 KICKER FM and online at kickerfm.com, click “listen.” Airtime for the Coach Brian Blackmon pregame show is 6:30 with live pregame from Bulldog Stadium at 6:45. The broadcast team consists of long-time “Voice of the Bulldogs” D.Mark Mitchell handling play-by-play; former OHS player Jeff Sasser and former coach Larry Gore provide color; while former player Wade Meadows reports from the Opelika sideline.
You can also watch a live webcast online at nfhsnetwork.com. You must establish an account and pay a small fee to watch the game while listening to the radio broadcast.
OPELIKA NINTH GRADE 3-0
Opelika ninth grade football team beat Valley 15-14 Monday in Fairfax. These Dawgs improved to 3-0 on the year and will host Eufaula Monday September 21 at 5:30 p.m.
D.Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys State director and vice president of the  A-O Sports Council.

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