By D. Mark Mitchell
The OHS Bulldog football team put a damper on Chelsea’s homecoming with a 37-10 win over the Hornets.
Coach Caleb Ross is slowly seeing his team regain its health. Junior quarterback Cade Blackmon returned after injuring his ankle against Carver Sept. 8. Three players remain sidelined, however, but two are likely to return before the season ends. Senior offensive tackle Blake Landers is lost for the season after a spinal injury suffered against Benjamin Russell.
The Bulldogs’ defense took over the game early, as Malachi Tatum returned a fumble 60 yards for a touchdown and cornerback Jaylen Stinson returned an interception 90 yards for a score. The two defensive scores helped spark the offense. Malik Wilson and Kani Kellum scored rushing TDs while Tyler Sellers nailed a 43-yard field goal.
Overall, Ross said he was pleased with his team’s road win during his postgame radio show.
“I am proud of our team tonight. This is a unique place,” Ross said in reference to the unusual atmosphere and stadium. “We needed some good things to happen tonight and earn a win. Our kids continue to play despite injuries and adversity, I am hoping for a great finish.”
Ross added that it will take more focus and effort as they prepare for the 8-0 Wetumpka Indians next Friday.
“We will have a battle next week. We must play smarter and focus on the task at hand,” Ross said. “Wetumpka is undefeated and will be ready next Friday, but so will we.”
WETUMPKA AT OPELIKA
OHS will host Wetumpka this Friday night at Bulldog Stadium. It is the annual ‘Pink Out’ game, in honor of October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and fans are encouraged to wear pink. Bubba’s Medicine Shop is selling “Pink out” t-shirts for $10. Bubba’s will donate $3 from each shirt sale to the East Alabama Cancer Foundation.
The Indians bring an 8-0 overall record, 4-0 in region, to Opelika. Through eight games, Wetumpka has scored 376 points while allowing 149 points. Wetumpka beat Prattville in the season opener 47-29; Eufaula 48-24; Chelsea 44-22; Stanhope Elmore 40-13; Chilton County 56-19; Greenville 51-14; Pelham 55-14 and Helena 35-14.
Opelika and Wetumpka have played each other three times, including a 38-37 Opelika win last season. Indians head coach Tim Perry took over the head coaching duties in 2012 and has compiled a 37-26 overall record.
This is a huge region game for both teams. Opelika is trying to finish no lower than second place, while Wetumpka is gunning for a region title if they finish with back-to-back wins over Opelika and Benjamin Russell. The Indians used their speed to return two kicks for TDs in last year’s game. The Dawgs defense must limit big plays and make Wetumpka earn every point. Offensively, we must sustain drives with a good mix of rushing and passing. Ross may choose to slow the pace of the game, similar to the first half against Central, and use the clock to our advantage. This will keep the Wetumpka offense off the field and allow our defense to stay fresh.
I encourage all Opelika fans to attend and cheer on the Bulldogs. There is nothing like a noisy crowd at Bulldog Stadium.
I predict that this will be a good game and a Bulldog victory.
The OMS 7th-grade football team lost their first game, 14-8, to Prattville last week. OMS quarterback Caleb Chisum threw a touchdown pass to Davion Johnson for the only touchdown of the night. Kaden Cooper connected with Davion Johnson for the two-point conversion. Jarrious Goodman led the defense with an interception.
The OMS 8th-grade team beat Prattville 33-27 to remain undefeated. The Bulldogs were led by Jarrell Stinson, who rushed for 210 yards on 15 carries, including four touchdowns. Quarterback Jackson Bates threw a TD pass to Jalin Aikens. Charles Gagliano handled extra-point duties.
The defense was led by Taylor Love, Tae Hardnett, Nick Covington and Jameire Willis.
Both teams travel to Wetumpka tomorrow. The 7th-grade game kicks off at 5 p.m.
The Opelika volleyball team, led by coach Robin Roberts, improved to 8-8 after winning two matches this week. The Lady Bulldogs beat Handley 3-2 and Park Crossing 3-0.
Opelika will host Tallassee and Sidney Lanier in a tri-match tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. in the main gym.
D.Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys State director and vice president of the A-O Sports Council.