By D. Mark Mitchell
The Opelika football team defeated Daphne 15-5 in the first round of the AHSAA 6A playoffs last Friday night at Jubilee Stadium in Daphne.
Starting Trojan quarterback Chance Newman left the game after the second series with a shoulder injury and never returned.
Despite taking an early 5-0 lead, Daphne finished with a dismal 117 total yards of offense for the game. The Bulldog defense dominated, forcing the Trojans to nine three-and-outs and limiting them to only seven first downs.
The Bulldogs took a 6-5 lead in the third quarter after Conner Smith sprinted 36 yards for a touchdown. Opelika failed the following two-point conversion attempt.
Opelika’s second score came after TJ Jones blocked a Daphne punt which rolled in the end zone and was recovered by Bruce King for the score. Tyler Sellers added the extra point to make it 13-5. Opelika’s final score came on a safety late in the fourth quarter.
OPELIKA TO HOST PARK CROSSING IN SECOND ROUND OF AHSAA 6A PLAYOFFS
The win over Daphne earned Opelika a second-round home game against the 10-1 Park Crossing Thunderbirds Friday night.
The Thunderbirds are coached by former Opelika assistant and Beauregard head football coach Smitty Grider.
Located in Montgomery, the four-year-old program has already made three playoff appearances.
This will be the second time the two schools have played. The Bulldogs beat Park Crossing 41-23 in the semifinals last year at Bulldog Stadium.
For the season, Park Crossing has scored 451 points and allowed 152 points, for an average scoring margin of 41-15 per game.
The 10 wins were over Jefferson Davis, Stanhope Elmore, Russell County, Northview, Gadsden City, Carver, Dothan, Lanier, Clay-Chalkville and Bessemer City. The lone loss was to 7A Robert E. Lee.
Plagued by early season injuries, a tough schedule and breaking in a new head coach, Opelika stumbled to a 3-3 record, but enters Friday’s matchup against Park Crossing riding a five-game win streak.
The Opelika football team deserves a huge crowd Friday night at Bulldog Stadium. Coach Caleb Ross has the kids playing as a team and on a high level entering the second-round game.
Opelika will need another solid defensive game and a prolific offense to win.
LISTEN TO GAME ON KICKER 97.7 FM
You can listen to the Opelika vs Park Crossing football game on WKKR 97.7 Kicker FM and online at kickerfm.com.
The broadcast crew of former Opelika head coach Larry Gore and Jeff Sasser will provide commentary, D.Mark Mitchell will handle the play-by-play and Mason Black will report from the sideline
Airtime for the Coach Caleb Ross Pregame Show is 6:30 p.m., with kickoff set for 7 p.m.
The Lady Bulldog basketball team played four games in five days last week. Coach Devin Booth’s team opened the season with a 71-53 win over Robert E. Lee at the OHS Sports Arena.
The girls later traveled to Hazel Green to participate in the ‘Hazel Green Tip-Off Classic’. Following is a list of results for the tournament:
Opelika beat Jemison 54-38.
Anita Payne led the Bulldogs with 17 points while teammates Abrea Green and Alexis Browning scored 14 and 10 points respectively.
Opelika beat Carver of Birmingham 70-49.
Anita Payne scored a game-high 22 points and Quala Walton added 17 points for the Bulldogs.
Charles Henderson beat Opelika 71-48.
The defending 5A state champion Trojans handed Opelika their first loss of the season. Anita Payne and Abrea Green each scored 11 points for Opelika in the loss.
Opelika boys basketball coach John Wadsworth said he believes in playing a hard schedule prior to area play. The Bulldogs opened the 2017 season at Prattville last week, losing 75-73 at the buzzer in a controversial game.
Prattville’s official scorer failed to add two points during the fourth quarter. After several discussions with the game officials, the points were not added.
This left Opelika down one point instead of up one point with less than a minute to go. The Bulldogs were forced to foul but Prattville hit three of its four free throws to clinch the victory.
Five Bulldog players scored double digits: Trey Boone and Austin Pitts each scored 14 points, freshman Taye Fields finished with 13, Jaylin Cumin scored 11 points and Justin Love scored 10 points.
Both boys and girls teams played Valley in Fairfax Tuesday night. Game results were not available at press time.
D.Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys State director and vice president of the A-O Sports Council.