By D. Mark Mitchell
Opelika (1-3 overall, 1-1 in region) lost to Wetumpka (4-0 overall, 2-0 in region) 30-28 in a huge region game Friday night at Hohenberg Stadium.
The Bulldogs took a 22-13 lead into the locker room at halftime, but allowed 17 points and managed to add only more score in the second half. The Indians outgained Bulldogs by 119 total yards, rushing for 255 yards and passing for 154 yards. The Bulldogs rushed for 200 yards and passed for 90 yards.
The ending of this game reminds all Opelika fans of last year’s game. Opelika drove the football down the field and Tyler Sellers kicked a 42-yard field goal to beat Wetumpka 20-19 as time expired.
Opelika trailed by two points with 2:29 left in the game. Erik Watts returned a short kickoff to the Bulldogs’ 44-yard line. On third and long, quarterback Cade Blackmon threw a pass downfield, producing a 15-yard pass interference penalty against the Indians, their 20th penalty of the game.
With the football spotted at the Indian 24-yard line, Barnett rushed twice for two yards. Coach Erik Speakman, with no timeouts remaining, sent kicker Marshall Meyers to attempt the game winning field goal. As the clock counted down, the left footed Meyers was preparing to kick his first field goal in a game.
The snap, hold and kick looked good … when all of a sudden, two Wetumpka players slipped through an opening in the line and deflect the football as it came off the tee. The football changed directions, turning sideways while moving outside of the cross bars as time expired.
The Bulldogs were led offensively by Barnett, who rushed for 169 yards on 18 carries and scored two touchdowns.
The Central Red Devils (4-0 overall, 2-0 in region) invade Bulldog Stadium Friday night for a non-region game. Central leads the series 43-32, including two wins in a row and winning six of the last 10 meetings.
Head coach Jamey Dubose enters his fifth season at Central. Dubose has compiled 115 wins and 38 losses during his 13 years as a head coach.
Central opened the season with a 42-18 win over Mays High School of Atlanta, beat Meridian High School 49-10, Smiths Station 49-0 and Prattville 49-7. As you can see by the scores, Central is a good, well-coached football team that averages 201 rushing yards and 199 passing yards per game.
This is a good time for the Bulldogs to play in the friendly confines of Bulldog Stadium. This is the second of four home games after playing back-to-back road games. An Opelika win would shock the state of Alabama and could lead to an incredible finish.
A loss would leave Opelika 1-4 overall, but the region record would remain 1-1. The next three games are winnable, featuring matchups against Benjamin Russell, Calera and Stanhope Elmore.
Tickets are $7 each and can be purchased at Bubba’s Medicine Shop and Victory De sign. You can listen to Opelika v. Central on WKKR 97.7 Kicker FM or online at kickerfm.com.
The Opelika freshman football team opened the season with a 28-6 win over Benjamin Russell last Monday. Freshman quarterback Jackson Bates threw a 40-yard TD pass to Chuck Gagliano TD, Jarrell Stinson scored twice, on a 65-yard punt return and a five-yard run. The defense scored the final TD on 20-yard scoop-and-score. Chuck Gagliano was 4-of-4 on extra-point attempts.
Opelika High School’s volleyball team (5-4 overall) split a pair of region matches last week, beating Russell County 3-0 and losing to Benjamin Russell 3-2.
Opelika and Benjamin Russell went to the final set before the match was decided. The Lady Bulldogs lost the opening match 25-15 but battled to win the second set 25-18 and the third set 26-24. Needing one set to win the match with two remaining, Opelika lost 25-23 and 15-10 in the tie-breaker.
Head coach Robin Roberts rallied her team and defeated Russell County 3-0, winning 25-8, 25-18 and 25-8. Opelika hosted Auburn last night in the school’s main gym, but results were not available at press-time.
The Opelika boys and girls cross country teams participated in three meets this season: Aug. 23 at the “Smiths Station Panther Stages,” Sept. 1 at the “AT&T Starrs Mill Panther Meet” and Sept. 11 at the “Pell City Meet.”
The only available results come from the “Smiths Station Panther Stages.” Individual results are as follows: Tykell Jones placed 20th, Alberto Cordova 43rd, Jacob Walker 45th and Benjamin Estes 49th. Winston Tufts, Jack O’Quinn and Walker Norrell finished the race but placed outside the top-50 contestants.
In the junior high division, Breckin Gould finished 24th, Jake Walters 28th and Jyuniven Rowe finished 33rd. The team travels to Montgomery Sept. 22 for the “Central Alabama XC Invitational” at Gateway Park.
If you have information or results relating to Opelika cross country events, please email email@example.com.
In the coming weeks, I plan to write about Opelika’s new swim coach Tyler McGill. Mayor Gary Fuller, the Opelika City Council and the Opelika Parks and Recreation should be commended for making a major decision that tells all that Opelika is serious about swimming.
D. Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys state director and vice president of the A-O Sports Council.