By D. Mark Mitchell
Boys: The Opelika High Cross Country team literally ran away from the field in the “Mobile Challenge of Champions,” winning the meet by a 50-point margin over second place Baker High School.This event was the 22nd annual meet held at Langan Park in Mobile. This meet usually features the best high school cross country teams from across the South.
Opelika placed three runners in the top 12. Ben Bryant finished second, Kane Barrett was fifth and Ben Garner finished 12th. Kevin Lazenby was 14th, Hayden Washburn ran 25th, Jonathan Bizilia was 29th and Braden Holloway finished 30th.
Girls: The OHS girls cross country team finished eighth in the Mobile meet. Shamika Smith led the Lady Bulldogs with a 25th place finish.Cameron Walker was 28th, Ambriah Bryant placed 36th, and Emma Royal and Sarah Brewer finished 54th and 55th.
Both teams should be proud of their results in Mobile. The boys team proved they will battle for the 6A State Championship while the girls keep building a team that will compete for the state title in a year or two. Both teams are off until Sept. 20, when Opelika hosts the “Bulldog Invitational” at the Sportsplex in Opelika. OMS will also participate in the meet, which will start at 8 a.m.
Opelika improved to 2-0 and 1-0 in Region play after blanking Benjamin Russell 23-0 last Friday in Alex City. The Bulldogs continued to play strong defense, allowing the Wildcats less than 100 yards of total offense. Mathew Christian, Kyle Fourtanbary, James Moss, Tanner Blatt and Josh Johnson continued to be playmakers on offense.
OHS just completed a tough three game road stretch, @Carver, @Auburn and @Ben Russell, with a 3-0 record (OK, so one of the wins didn’t “count”) and 1-0 in the Region.
Opelika will play the first home game of the season tonight against undefeated Pell City in a Region game at 7 p.m. The Panthers beat Walker 17-14, Lincoln 30-7 and Chilton County 51-20.
The Bulldogs will be the best team Pell City has played so far. Their easy schedule could prove costly to them tonight. The Dawgs have started out fast in all three of their games, scoring all their points in the first half while shutting teams out of the end zone. Some may point out, we have not scored in the second half in three straight games. This is a fact, but we scored enough in the first half to win the games. I know we will have to score in the second half against as the season progresses, and we will!
Coach Blackmon and his staff watch the films of each game numerous times. The coaches continue to work and try to improve each week. Look for Opelika to dominate in all three phases tonight on the way to a big win.
It’s great to be undefeated and coming home for the first time this season. I am challenging all Opelika fans to cheer loudly and applaud the players, coaches and staff members who make Friday night football in Opelika so exciting and fun to watch. This team deserves a packed and loud home crowd.
You can purchase tickets today before noon at Bubba’s Medicine Shop, Rice Banking and Victory Designs. The stadium ticket office opens at 5 p.m., and gates open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $7 per person.
GAME DAY PARKING
Opelika City Schools and OHS are asking fans attending the game to park in a proper parking place and stay off the grass. Renovations are complete, and all equipment and the mobile classrooms are gone. The front parking lot will be open for game day parking. Handicapped parking is located next to the stadium. Turn in the main entrance of the school and then turn right in the direction of the stadium. A security guard will check your tag or place card and direct you to the proper parking spaces. Fans can use all Southern Union Parking lots, next to the Grub Mart and behind the school.
Do not park in the grass at Southern Union. You can park on the grass in front of the track where “Bulldog Village” was located the past two years.
CORPORATE SPONSOR PARKING
The Opelika All-Sports Booster Club Corporate Sponsor parking is located behind the visiting stands. Corporate Sponsors should use the “bus entrance,” which is the first road on your left on campus heading north on Lafayette parkway. The entrance will have Corporate Sponsor signs to help you locate this entrance.After entering, drive around behind the school to the parking lot behind the visiting stands. A security guard will help direct you to a space.
Mitchell is sports director for Qantum Radio.