By D. Mark Mitchell
School began last week and the athletic department is in full swing. The volleyball, cross country and football teams will all start the regular season this week or next week.
The volleyball team will host Beauregard and Lanier on Sept. 6, starting at 4 p.m.
The football team defeated Enterprise last Thursday 27-10 in Troy. Coach Brian Blackmon was pleased with the pre-season game because of many factors. The Dawgs only had one turnover, a questionable fumble after the running back was on the ground, compared to five turnovers in the spring game. The starters with no experience played like veterans.
The offense used a hard-nosed running game to pound on Enterprise. The offensive line which averages 280 pounds per man looked strong. The backs were able to run behind them for over 280 yards. Jakell Mitchell was the leading rusher despite playing both tight end and running back.
Sophomore quarterback Mathew Christian played soundly while making his first start on the varsity. Christian continued to improve as the game progressed. One big thing that had coach Blackmon concerned was the exchange between the center and the quarterback. The two sophomores involved, Christian and center Drew Kiser, never had a bad snap all night.
The defense was quick and aggressive. The coaches were able to play a relatively large number of guys during the game.
Opelika will open the 2012 season tonight in Alexander City against Benjamin Russell at the Alex City Sportsplex at 7 p.m. This will be the first time OHS and BRHS has played since 2005, a 21-3 win by the Bulldogs. Benjamin Russell chose to stop playing OHS because of a change in coaches and the fact OHS had won 10 of the last 12 games.
The two schools used to play every year and were in the same region for many years.
Benjamin Russell is coached by Danny Horn, who won several state championships at Clay County where he coached before becoming the Wildcats’ coach.
Opelika will use their big offensive line to pound away at the defensive front of BRHS to establish a running game. Quarterback Mathew Christian will have to throw short passes and minimize mistakes. The defense must keep the Benjamin Russell offense off the field. OHS’s size and speed should be a decisive advantage.
Opelika’s special teams have not been tested in a real game. OHS has a new punter, a new placekicker, kick-off person, deep snapper and holder. The guys that are in these spots are good athletes and get the job done. The more they have the opportunity to perform, the better they will get.
The officials at Benjamin Russell High School are asking fans to use the highway 280 entrance to get to the Charles Bailey Sportsplex. The entrance is on the left side of Hwy. 280 and there are signs directing you to the entrances. The entrance on highway 22 is not an entrance; it will be used as an exit.
You can listen to Opelika Bulldog games on WKKR 97.7 FM and on the web at www.kickerfm.com. The crew will be the same, I (D.Mark Mitchell) will handle the play-by-play, Jeff Sasser will analyze the game with former Opelika head coach Larry Gore and Geter Meadows will be on the sideline.
The Brian Blackmon pre-game show will start at 6:30 p.m., and the kickoff is set for 7 p.m. After the game you can hear coach Blackmon’s post game comments.
You can stay tuned to the Kicker after the game and listen to the “High School Scoreboard Show” until midnight, hosted by Eddie Owens and Jere Bavaro.
You can keep up with Opelika High School athletics everyday by listening to the “On The Mark” radio show on WTLM 1520 AM from 7 a.m. until 9 a.m.