By D. Mark Mitchell
The OHS boys cross country team opened the 2015 season in The AT&T Starr’s Mill Panther Invitational in Fayetteville, Ga. last weekend.
The Opelika team placed fifth in the meet. Ben Garner’s ninth place finish, with a time of 16:25.89, led Opelika. Kevin Lazenby finished with a time of 17:28.08, Jonathan Bizilia (17:32.07) and Hayden Washburn (17:35.83) also contributed.
The Dawgs travel to Carrolton, Ga., this weekend before hosting the Opelika Classic, September 19, at the Sportsplex at 8 a.m.
Opelika (3-0, R 1-0) defeated Benjamin Russell of Alex City 45-27 in their Region opener.
The Dawgs trailed 20-10 with 9:53 left in the second quarter. They then scored the next 35 points to overcome the deficit and win the game.
As I predicted, Opelika started slow after beating arch-rival AHS the week before. The Wildcats broke TD runs of 71 and 65 yards. Despite making only one first down in the first quarter, BRHS held the lead.
Opelika settled down and the coaching staff made the proper adjustments at halftime to help propel the Bulldogs to the win.
Running back Josh Johnson scored five touchdowns, four rushing and one receiving.
Jaleel Heard caught a 36-yard pass from QB Jake Bentley for a TD. Jack Slay kicked a 40-yard field goal and four extra points. Chaz Blackmon kicked the last extra point for OHS.
Opelika will travel to Pell City (2-1, R 1-0) tonight for the second Region game for both schools. The Panthers lost to Walker 17-16 in the opener. They defeated Lincoln and Chilton County the past two weeks.
This is a game Opelika should win. No disrespect to Pell City, but they do not have the kind of talent we have on our team.
However, the Bulldogs have to take Pell City seriously. Any team can win on any given day, but I look for Opelika to roll big-time.
Opelika has scored 30-plus points in three straight games. The defense has given up some big plays but has managed to make defensive stands during the key moments in the first three games.
The Dawgs will score more points tonight than the first three games.
Quarterback Jake Bentley will have a strong first half along with Josh Johnson, Jaleel Heard, Tanner Blatt, Caleb Florence and Kyle Fourtanbary.
If my prediction is accurate, look for John David Worth, back-up QB, to take most of the snaps in the second half.
The Bulldog defense will not allow many points tonight. Opelika should have a relatively easy game on the road.
Opelika will play without a couple of starters. These two can play in an emergency role if needed.
LISTEN LIVE TO OPELIKA/PELL CITY
Fans can listen live to the Opelika -Pell City game tonight on 97.7 Kicker FM and online at Kickerfm.com. They may also watch the live webcast of the Opelika vs. Pell City game by going to NFHSnetwork.com. A small fee is required to watch the game with our live broadcast piped in.
Opelika Middle School 8th graders defeated Wetumpka’s 8th grade 19-16. The defense was led by Malik Covington who had another interception this week. Miles Magee (LB), and James Dawson (DT) did a great job in the middle.
The offense was led by the offensive line this week as they paved the way for Kani Kellum to rush for two touchdowns.
Brody Davis threw a touchdown to Nate Evans for the other score.
Kicking duties were handled by Walker Beams and Mario Martinez. Dozier Smith T and Demire Shipley were the holders.
The OMS 7th grade defeated Wetumpka Indians 16-0 at Wetumpka.
The defense pitched a shutout led by outstanding play from the front six and great outside play.
Anthony (Dino) Martin and Ladamian Rowell each had an interception while Trevon Moore forced a fumble and Jamon Thomas made two fumble recoveries.
The offense was led by Malik Finley who had two rushing touchdowns and two two-point conversions. The O-Line blocked well up front helping Qua Ross and Eric Watts to rack up the rushing yards.
OMS’ next game is Thursday at home versus Alex City (Benjamin Russell.)
D.Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys State director and vice president of the A-O Sports Council.