By D. Mark Mitchell
It was a home game against a former rival, OHS homecoming and the Bulldogs were coming off a big region loss to Carver. Opelika’s football team needed something good to happen, and it did. The Dawgs dominated the Valley Rams 35-0. Every player who was not injured, played, including three quarterbacks, five running backs, four place kickers and three-deep at every position.
Opelika was never in trouble despite only leading 14-0 at halftime. Valley, a team that used to play the Bulldogs every year from 1957-1997, was not the powerful Valley-machine that many of us remembered. This was a program that had head coaches like Doug Lockredge, Robert Maddox and Steve White.
These Valley Rams have gone through five head coaches in four years. Current head coach Marshon Harper was named head coach just three days before the season opener against Auburn after former head coach John Wells resigned before coaching a game.
Opelika moved up and down the field at will most of the game. Quarterback Mathew Christian was 12-19 for 201 passing yards. Marquise Fulton caught eight passes for 133 yards. T.J. Griffen rushed 12 times for 80 yards. The defense only allowed 160 yards, despite playing many players while Valley kept their first team in through out the game.
The Bulldogs held the Rams on their first possession and took over at its own 35 after the punt. Seven plays later Griffen scored his first of three TDs, running six yards into the end zone, Traylor added the PAT and it was 7-0.
Griffen’s second score was on a 14-yard run and his last was a two-yard scamper early in the third quarter. Receiver Eligha Singleton caught a 47-yard pass from Mathew Christian for a touchdown while Dequan Carter finished the scoring with a four-yard run for a touchdown with four minutes left in the game.
Kickers Chaz Blackmon, John Dukes and Justin Traylor added extra points.
Opelika head coach Brian Blackmon was happy, but calm after the win.
“It’s a game we should have won and we did. We need to work on a few things including our passing game. I was happy with the way our guys threw and caught the ball tonight. Our defense played hard and got a shutout. We have a little momentum but a long road ahead of us,” Blackmon said during his post game radio show.
Opelika traveled to Montgomery last night to play Lanier in a very important region game. At press time the game was not complete.
The remainder of the schedule is tough: Oct. 12 at Smiths Station, Oct. 19 (senior night and last regular season home game) against Jeff Davis, Oct. 26 at Auburn in the last region game and at Hoover on Thursday, Nov. 1.
If we win the next three games, the Auburn game could decide the region championship. That’s right! The region championship. Opelika fans need to cheer for AHS and OHS to win their next three games. That would set up a showdown at the “Duck” on Oct. 26 for the region title.
Keep Up With Opelika Athletics Daily
Opelika fans have a few different ways to keep up with Opelika athletics everyday.
You can always go on line at www.thedawgnetwork.com. This is the official site of the Opelika High School Athletic department. This site is updated by the minute. You can can find schedules for every sport, you can read my articles pertaining to Opelika High School athletics, photos, videos of games, interviews and other items of interest.
You can listen to “On The Mark” radio program weekdays from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on WTLM 1520 AM or on the web at www.kickerfm.com/sports and then click on the title “On The Mark” below the KICKER logo. The show is hosted by Jeff Sasser and myself. We discuss every sport we play at OHS and interview the coaches and players.
Both of these provide up-to-the minute news and information.
The Opelika varsity and middle school cross country teams participated in the Montgomery Academy Invitational in Montgomery last week. The Opelika Middle School boys finished first while the girls placed second. Ben Garner finished first in the 3200-meter run, Palmer Long placed second, Will Overstreet finished fourth, Keshawn Shaw sixth and Braden Holloway was seventh.
The OMS girls finished second overall. Abby Alcantara was fourth, Brittney Golden was fifth and Emma Royal was sixth. Coach Jen Neighbors was proud of the two teams. Finishing in first and second in a big event was a confidence builder for the teams.
The varsity boys placed second as a team. Shakiel Parker had the highest finish, sixth; Kane Barrett was 13th; J.R. Thrash was 20th and Ben Bryant and Kevin Lazenby tied for 21st.
The varsity girls finished third led by Emma Garner’s third place finish.
A select few are heading to Moulton this weekend for the “Jesse Owens Invitational.” This will give the group an event on the course where the state meet is held.
All-Sports Booster Club
The Opelika All-Sports Booster club will be holding a “Beat Auburn” Booster Club meeting on Oct. 23 at 6:30 p.m. at the Irish Bred Pub. Everyone is invited and you can order off the menu if you would like to eat. Coach Brian Blackmon will be on hand to discuss the Opelika vs. Auburn game.
Where Are They Now
Former Bulldog quarterback (2009) and Opelika High School graduate David Thomas is the starting quarterback for Miles College in Birmingham (actually it’s in Fairfield). Thomas was in the National Honor Society at OHS and is on the way to graduating on time from Miles.
Last season he was named to the All-Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) team and is having another great year this year. Last week Thomas threw for 368 yards while rushing for another 68 yards.
Great job, David!