By D. Mark Mitchell
The Opelika High School football team defeated Hueytown 45-24 last Friday in the third round of the AHSAA 6A State Playoffs.
The Golden Gophers jumped out to a 7-0 lead after Alex Young scored on a 10-yard touchdown run with 8:22 left in first quarter.
Opelika answered with a 28-yard field goal from Marshall Meyers with 4:55 left in the opening quarter. Hueytown pushed the lead to 14-3 after a six-yard scoring by Roydell Williams. On the ensuing possession, Eric Watts closed the gap on a 61-yard sprint for a TD.
The Bulldogs scored 21 points in the second quarter while holding the Golden Gophers to seven points.
Omar Holloway caught a 31-yard pass from Brody Davis for a TD, Watts ran 68 yards for his second TD and Holloway caught a 32-yard pass for his second touchdown.
Hueytown scored their only TD of the second quarter on a one-yard run from Williams.
Opelika took a 31-21 lead into the locker room at intermission.
The second half was the opposite of the first half. The two teams combined for 17 total points.
The Bulldogs scored two fourth quarter TDs, with Watts running seven yards for a score and J.D. Tolbert scored on a 35-yard run.
The Gophers’ added a 35-yard field goal.
With the win, the Bulldogs will play at Spanish Fort Friday night in the state semifinals.
Spanish Fort (8-4) defeated Park Crossing 28-21 to advance. They made the playoff because Daphne played an ineligible player in the win over Spanish Fort.
Following the loss, Toros Coach Ben Blackmon asked the AHSAA to investigate a player on the Trojan squad.
The AHSAA ruled Daphne played an ineligible player because of violating the transfer rules, therefore forfeiting the win over the Toros. The player in question transferred to Daphne but did not follow proper protocol.
Spanish Fort had an up-and-down regular season. They started the season 1-1, b McGill -Toolen 37-7 and Daphne won 35-7.
Spanish Fort won back-to-back games, 61-13 over Robertsdale and 45-0 over BC Rain.
St. Paul’s beat Spanish Fort 35-30 in week six followed by a 37-7 win over Baldwin County.
They lost two of the last three regular season games, to Blount 27-10 and Saraland 17-16. The Toros best Gulf Shores 42-3 in between those losses.
The Toros have won three straight playoffs games, 28-21 win over Dothan, 63-21 over Wetumpka and beat Park Crossing 28-21.
This is the third meeting between Opelika and Spanish Fort in football, all three on the road.
Spanish Fort won the first game 31-21 in 2015, and Opelika returned in 2016 for a 21-17 win.
Friday’s game will starts at 7 p.m. at Toro Stadium on the Spanish Fort campus. Fans can purchase tickets online at gofan.co for $10. This is a $2 increase because it is a semifinal game.
The winner advances to the AHSAA Super 7 Football Championship at Jordan-Hare Stadium Dec. 6 at 7 p.m.
Fans can listen to the Opelika v. Spanish Fort game on WKKR 97.7 FM beginning with pre-game coverage at 6:30 p.m. or watch live on the NFHS network. There is a minimal charge to watch the live stream.
The AHSSA Central Section Swimming/Diving Championships at Birmingham’s Crossplex last weekend. Opelika’s Bradi Jones won the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:04.12.
Opelika placed fourth overall in sectionals and finished first in the 100 and 200-yard medley and freestyle relays.
OHS swim team placed 4th overall in sectionals with only nine swimmers at the Birmingham Crossplex.
Placing first in the 200-meter medley relay and 200-meter freestyle relay were Bradi Jones (Sr.), Julia Bush (Sr.), Beth Dawe (Fr.) and Sarah Bush (8th).
Bradi Jones placed first in the 100-meter breaststroke, and second place in the 50-meter freestyle. Julia Bush qualified for state in the 50-meter freestyle and 100-meter freestyle. Beth Dawe placed first in the 100-meter backstroke and also qualified for state in 100-meter butterfly. Sarah Bush qualified for state in 100-meter breaststroke and 100-meter freestyle.
The state swimming and diving Championships will be Dec. 6 and 7 at Auburn’s Martin Aquatics Center.
The OHS wrestling team lost two home matches last week, 51-27 to Russell County and 60-12 to LaGrange. Winning matches against RCHS were, Ari Brogdon, Chris Willet, Ben Daughtry and Joey Baker.
Jaylin Thomas and Ben Daisy earned wins against LaGrange.
Opelika grapplers were in Tallassee Tuesday night for the Tallassee Thanksgiving Duels.
The results were not available at press time.
Both the varsity boys and girls basketball teams opened the newly renovated Mainstreet Gym last week against Carver.
The Bulldogs won the girls game 63-53. Kaitlyn Bryant and Haley Sanders scored 15 points apiece to lead the team. Ananda Hughley added 10 points.
The Carver boys beat the Bulldogs 74-57. Opelika only scored 11 points in the first half and nine points in the fourth quarter, which proved to be the difference in the outcome.
The Bulldogs scored 19 points in both the second and third quarters, compared to Carver’s 19 and 17 points.
The Wolverines outscored the Bulldogs 38-20 in the first and fourth quarter combined.
Brandon Howard led Opelika with 17 points. Rashaad Frye and Grady Bynum added nine points apiece.
The Freshman boys basketball team beat Benjamin Russell 57-30 last week. Jayvontay Conner, Brenton Williams and Jayden Cooper scored 13 points each. Alijah Hicks scored 12 points.
D. Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys State Director and vice president of the A-O Sports Council.