BY D. MARK MITCHELL
Opelika (2-2, R 2-1) lost to Central (4-0, R, 3-0) 28-18 in Phenix City last Friday night. The Dogs scored first, on a 22-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead. Central scored two TD’s to take a 14-3 late in the second quarter on a 49 yard TD pass and a 37 yard TD pass. Calvin Hughley scored Opelika’s first TD on a 1-yard run to pull withing 4-points at halftime, 14-10.
After playing the third quarter with no scoring, Central scored 2-TD’s in the fourth quarter to seal the victory, a 10-yard pass for a score and a 99-yard kickoff return.
The Bulldogs made it close, scoring a TD in the fourth quarter after Roman Gagliano threw an 80 yards TD pass to Jordan Tolbert.
Despite the loss, Opelika gained 325 total yards, 264 rushing yards and 76 passing yards compared to Central’s 319 total yards, 251 passing yards and 68 rushing yards.
Offensively for Opelika, quarterback Gagliano was 19 of 31 for 264-yards and 1-TD and Tolbert three passes for 129 yards and a TD. Defensively, Culventae White made 4-tackles to lead the team.
Opelika dropped to 2-1 in the region, but if it finishes in second place, the team will have home field advantage during the playoffs.
The Dogs host Prattville (1-2, R 1-1) Friday night for Homecoming at Bulldog Stadium. The Lions beat Smiths Station (59-24) but lost to Foley (45-19) and Dothan (59-24) under third year coach Jason Wallace.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium. Tickets are available online at gofan.co and at Bubbas Medicine Shop and Victory Design. Fans can purchase tickets at the ticket office at Bulldog Stadium starting at 5:30 p.m.
Fans can listen to Opelika on the radio on WKKR 97.7 FM, online at kickerfm.com and on the iHeartRadio app.
The Alabama High School Athletic Association ruled Tucaloosa County High football team was forced to forfeit it’s 55-13 win over Bessemer City in the second game of the season (Sept. 1) because the school gave a few players “gift cards” for their outstanding performance during the game which is a violation of the amuture athlete rule.
Tuscaloosa County head football coach Adam Winegarden said he was unaware of the rule and thought the gift cards for a meal was not a violation. The three players were ruled eligible by the AHSAA after ruling on the game.
Giving players free meals for playing well has been a long standing tradition in Alabama. Many resturants and high school booster clubs have agreements with resturants to feed “Player of Game” designees, etc. I am sure the AHAA will address the rule in the coming days.
The AHSAA governing body, the Central Board of Control, met this week in Montgomery. The Central Board may make a change or clarify this particular rule. Stay tuned for details.
The city of Opelika is making progress on many recreational projects in Opelika. The Floral Park playing surface appears to be ready for play, however the park is not completed and is not ready to open.
The city had a company install artificial turf that has 100-yard football field and one goal post, one full regulation soccer fields and six smaller soccer fields. The field has lights and is surrounded by a 10-foot fence. Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller said the project is coming along as expected and will be open soon.
Work crews are bustling at the Sportsplex installing an outside pool and water park. Fuller vowed to make an investment in recreation facilities and appears to be checking of his list before leaving office in two and a half years from now.
D. Mark Mitchell is the sports director at iHeartMedia, host of “On the Mark” Fox Sports the Game 910-1319, co-chair of the Auburn-Opelika Sports Council, chairman of the Super 7 and Dixie Boys Baseball state director.