By D. Mark Mitchell
The Opelika football team (6-4) defeated St Paul’s 38-20 last Friday night at Bulldog Stadium in the first round of the 6A State playoffs.
The win propelled Opelika to a second round game at Bessemer City Friday night at 7pm.
The Bulldogs scored 24 first-half points while holding the Saints scoreless for the first two quarters.
Cade Blackmon started the scoring, diving one yard for a touchdown with 6:14 left in the first quarter, which was followed by a successful Baker Rowton extra-point attempt.
Fewer than four minutes later, Marshall Meyers nailed a 35-yard field goal to extend the Bulldog lead to 10-0. Opelika added two more TDs in the second quarter, with Brantan Barnett running three yards for a score and Blackmon scoring his second TD on a 1-yard run. Rowton made both PATs, giving the Bulldogs a 24-point lead at halftime.
St Paul scored their first points of the game on a 15-yard run by Jordan Ingram with 8:06 left in the third quarter to cut the Opelika lead to 24-7.
Barnett ended any thoughts of a comeback moments later, sprinting 80 yards for a TD. St Paul’s added two TDs and OHS tacked on the last score with 5:51 left in the game, coming on an eight-yard run by Kani Kellum.
Opelika finished with 468 yards of total offense, passing for 213 yards and rushing for 245.
The Bulldogs will play the four-seed Bessemer City High School Purple Tigers (7-4) Friday night. The second-round playoff game will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
Bessemer City enters the game with wins over: Huffman 21-14, Spain Park 16-14, Paul Bryant 32-13, Wenonah 21-0, Brookwood 47-18, Northridge 50-10 and Park Crossing 21-13. The Purple Tigers four losses are 53-34 to Hilcrest, 33-14 to Hueytown, 16-12 to McAdory and 35-23 to Minor.
The two teams depend on the run first as you can see from the following stats. Bessemer City averages 122 yards passing yards and 228 yards rushing yards per game. The Purple Tigers have scored 269 points while allowing 219 points.
Opelika averages 132 passing yards and 187 rushing yards per game. The Bulldogs have scored 304 points and allowed 197 points.
On the defensive side, both teams have recorded 20-plus sacks. The big difference, Bessemer City has 20 interceptions compared to Opelika’s three.
The winner advances to the quarterfinals against the winner of Saraland v. Hueytown. Fans can listen to the game on WKKR 97.7 Kicker FM and online at kickerfm.com.
The Opelika boys basketball team opened the 2018 season with a 69-47 blowout win over 7A Prattville at the school’s Sports Arena last week. Taye Fields led the Bulldogs with 20 points. Trey Boone scored 18 with Brandon Howard and Ant McGuire adding eight points each.
Coach John Wadsworth’s team jumped out to a 19-8 first quarter lead and increased the lead 41-20 at halftime. The defense was led by Jaylin Cumins, Trey Boone and Caleb Phillips.
The Opelika girls basketball team played in the “Hazel Green Invitational” Friday and Saturday. The Lady Bulldogs finished 2-1. Opelika beat George W. Carver 58-22 and Lee of Huntsville 57-41. Tuscaloosa County defeated Opelika 44-41 for the Bulldogs’ only loss. They also defeated Northside in Dothan on Sunday, winning 75-36.
The girls host Lafayette Thursday at 5:30 p.m. while the boys host Loachapoka at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. The Lady Bulldogs travel to Columbus Saturday to play LaGrange.
Last Friday afternoon, Sharron Robinson Fuller went to be with the Lord after a tragic accident. As a friend for more than 25 years and serving as a groomsman in she and her husband John’s wedding, I send sincere condolences to the Robinson and Fuller families. Sharon leaves behind two beautiful children, Kathryn and Houston, and 25 years of marriage to John. Sharron always smiled and had a “glow” about her, as if she was an Angel from God! Those of us who were blessed to meet and know Sharron, understand her Godly thoughts and that beautiful smile.
Rest in peace, Sharron. The Mitchell Family loves you.
D. Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys State Director and vice president of the A-O Sports Council.