D. Mark Mitchell



The Opelika High School Bulldogs varsity football team travels to Hogansville, Georgia, to play Callaway Friday night at 7 p.m. This will be the fourth meeting between the two schools, which are separated by 40 miles and the Georgia state line. Callaway defeated OHS, 30-21, at Bulldog Stadium last season.

Pete Wiggins starts his 18th season as the head of the Cavaliers after starting his coaching career at Highland Home in Alabama. Wiggins talked about playing Opelika during “FOX Sports the Game 910AM High School Media Days presented by the Orthopaedic Clinic”.

“This is our fourth contest against Opelika; they have rich tradition and it has been competitive series,” he said. “We start with OHS, play Troup and Cedartown. All three are either 4A in Georgia and 7A in Alabama … heck, we are 2A. My hope is playing these type of teams will make us a better team.

“I look at our schedule and divide it in half, non-region games and region games. You can experiment during non-region game and work on plays for region opponents. As for the summer, I am pleased with the off-season workouts, the kids were awesome and stayed focus through every activity including, ‘7 v. 7’  competitions. This year’s team has 16 (seniors), way less than last year’s senior class. It was the biggest senior class in my 17 seasons. These guys are stepping in and beginning to grasp the senior role. They must lead our guys as we approach games. Callaway fans expect to win because  over the years we were blessed to win a state title and be in contention every year.”

Opelika coach Erik Speakman discussed his football team during an interview on “On the Mark” radio show on FOX Sports the Game.

“Obviously, if you follow Bulldog football, defense is always steady,” Speakman said.

He went on to say that the main returners are seniors Jake Smith, Tae Gay, Brenton Williams, Mickel Heard and Trey Coleman.

“These older guys will be starters and lead the defense,” Speakman said. “We have a young secondary, Perry, and two seniors, Andre Smiley and Jenkins. Several young guys will play. The depth is fine, although the junior class is small. We have a huge sophomore class that played well in at OMS; these guys will help us.”

“The o-line will be led by seniors Sewell and Frazier. Jalen Thomas was injured during the summer but will return soon. At running back, Calvin Huguley and Caden Cooper will move between receiver and running back. Roman Gagliano returns at quarterback, after starting the last half of the season. We are playing some kids at multiple positions –– wide receiver and running back –– including Tolbert, Williams, Miller and Bryce Speakman. On special teams, twins Jackson and Parker Kilcrease will rotate at the snapper position. Roman Gagliano will punt; Jonny Cesena, Will Carroll and Dalton Gam are all rotating as kicker but are still battling for starting spots.”

Callaway is a good opener for OHS. Fans can purchase tickets online at gofan.co or listen to Opelika Football on WKKR 97.7 Kicker FM, online at kickerfm.com or on the iHeartRadio app. Van Riggs and crew will host the pre-game, which begins at 6:30 p.m. with kickoff set for 7 p.m.


OHS will start its second girls’ flag football season Sept. 7 at Russell County. Second-year coach Jaclyn Button starts her second season as the Lady Bulldogs’ head coach. Last year’s team was one win away from qualifying for the championship game, played prior to the AHSAA 7A State Football Championship.

Opelika has 28 girls on the roster, more than last year, which allowed Button to have a junior varsity and varsity schedule. Five area schools will play for the second year and will be joined by first-year teams Notasulga, Valley and LaFayette.

The Lady Bulldog schedule will be listed weekly in my column.

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.


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