By D. Mark Mitchell
The Opelika Bulldogs went on the road for the fourth time in five weeks to defeat Oxford 45-21 last Friday night. This was the first ever meeting between the two schools. The Yellow Jackets are one of the new teams in our Region.
The Dawgs were coming off back-to-back shutouts over Benjamin Russell and Pell City. Oxford stopped the scoreless streak with 21 points but could not stop the OHS offense led by senior QB Mathew Christian.
It was obvious from the beginning Oxford knew this was a must win due to two losses. The Bulldogs managed to defeat Oxford in a game many thought was the best the Yellow Jackets have played this season.
Opelika used all three phases – offense, defense and special teams – to win the game. Each scored touchdowns. This is good because we will need our whole game to win a Region Championship.
The win was special for many reasons: a region win, a win on road, and we remain undefeated.
The Bulldogs will host Central tonight, the second home game of the season.
This would normally be a huge Region game for these two rivals; however, due to reclassification, this will be a rival game with no playoff implications.
Central, 5-0 and ranked 4th in 7A, is coached by Jamey Dubose. Dubose coached at OHS under Spence McCracken, was head coach at Prattville (where his teams won two state championships), head coach at Florence, and head coach at Charles Henderson for three months before taking the job in Phenix City.
The Red Devils will bring a high scoring offense to Bulldog Stadium: 30 points against Stockbridge, Ga., 43 against Lee, 47 against Auburn, 48 against Harris Co., and 42 against Prattville. The defense keeps improving under first year defensive coach L.C. Cole. They depend on the running game behind Ken Thomas 618 rushing yards and Treveon Samuel 452 rushing yards.
Quarterback Zion Webb averages 113 passing yards per game.
Opelika will bring a strong rushing attack along with a potent passing game. Christian is averaging 194 yards per game in the air, while our rushing attack has accumulated 602 yards rushing. This is as balanced as we have been in many years.
Hunter Weygand booted a 40-yard field goal last week to solidify his spot as the No. 1 kicker.
This will be a matchup of strength against strength, Centrals offense against the Opelika defense.
The Dawgs will need to play their best to win; Central will need to play their best to win. If both teams do as expected, it will be a “dog fight,” and we are the Bulldogs.
FACTS ABOUT OPELIKA versus CENTRAL
There is no doubt this will be a hard sellout and a huge game for both teams … however, both have bigger games ahead in Region play. Opelika will host Chelsea next week for homecoming. Chelsea is undefeated and tied with Opelika for the top spot in the region.
The Bulldogs have a few players nursing injuries – Tanner Blatt, Bryant Norrell and Josh Johnson. These guys can play tonight but could be used sparingly because we play Chelsea in a Region game next week.
No. 2 running back Weldron Ford is out for the season.
I believe we will win tonight! If you love football, this game is for you. Two rivals, both undefeated teams and ranked in the top 5 in Alabama. Enough said!
LISTEN AND WATCH THE WEBCAST LIVE
If you are planning to go to the Opelika Central game the ticket office will open at 5:30 p.m. Get there early if you don’t have a ticket.
You can listen to the game live on WKKR 97.7 KICKER FM. Air time is 6:30 p.m. for Coach Blackmon’s pregame show with live coverage at 6:45 p.m. You can listen online at http://www.kickerfm.com/.
Fans can also watch the game live and listen to the Opelika Broadcast team by going to http://www.thedawgnetwork.com/ or http://www.opelikaschools.com; look for the blue and red icon that reads “watch the Opelika game on the NFHS,” click this and you will see how to purchase the game for a small fee. Proceeds go the Opelika Athletic Department.
I (D.Mark Mitchell) will handle the play-by-play, Jeff Sasser and former OHS Coach Larry Gore will provide color, Wade Meadows will be live on the field and Blake Smith will provide stats.
OHS CROSS COUNTRY
Opelika High School hosted the fourth annual Opelika Invitational this past weekend at the Sportsplex. The girls and boys each finished second behind Auburn.
Opelika’s Ben Bryant won the boys division ahead of teammate Kane Barrett, who finished third. Ben Garner was 9th, while teammates Kevin Lazenby, Jonathan Bizilia, Hayden Washburn and Andrew Bartlett finished 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th. Braden Holloway was 18th, Micheal Geoffrey Crisler was 22nd, David Bretz was 23rd, Eric Tielking was 25th, Davis Butz was 30th and Givon Clarke and Nicholas Johnston were 40th and 43rd.
The girls were led by Cameron Walker’s 4th place finish. Shamika Smith was 7th, Emma Royal 19th, Vericia Evans was 22nd and Sarah Brewer finised 27th.
Both teams continue to improve while preparing for the state championship.
The OMS 8th Grade football team defeated Wetumpka Monday 20-14. Branton Barnett rushed for two TD’s while Isaiah McKissic rushed for the other touch down. Dalton Cooper added two PAT’s.
Both the seventh and eight grade teams played Smiths Station last night. The games were not complete at press time.
D.Mark Mitchell is sports director for Qantum Radio, Alabama Dixie Boys State director and vice president of the A-O Sports Council.