By D. Mark Mitchell
Opelika (1-1, R=1-0) defeated Region foe Sidney Lanier (1-1, R=0-1), 42-6, in the home opener at Bulldog Stadium. The Bulldogs scored early and often in the Region opener. Eric Watts scored his first of four touchdowns with 10:40 left in the first quarter after running 9 yards for the score. Rowton added the PAT to make it 7-0. Less than six minutes later, quarterback Jackson Baites threw a 12-yard pass to Shawn Jones for a score; the PAT made it 14-0. Later, Watts muscled his way two yards for a touchdown with 45 seconds left in the opening quarter. Rowton made the PAT, increasing the lead 21-0.
Lanier scored their only touchdown with 6:25 left in the first half when Anthony Schackleford caught a 42-yard pass from QB Bralen Jones. The extra point failed, leaving the Poets trailing by 15 points. Opelika’s Torianno Roberts ran 14 yards for the Dogs’ fifth touchdown, with eight minutes left in the third quarter. Rowton nailed the PAT, making the score 35-6.
Eric Watts put an exclamation point on the win, scoring two third quarter touchdowns on 10- and 12-yard scoring runs. Baker Rowton made both PAT to finish 6-0 on extra points.
The offense was led by Eric Watts, rushing for 103 yards and scoring four touchdowns, while Trevon Moore led the defense with 10 tackles, including 4 sacks.
This was a game Opelika needed after losing to rival Auburn High School last week and playing Eufaula this week on the road.
Eufaula and Opelika have played 31 times. The first matchup was in 1938. The two teams played in ‘40s, ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘90s. The last game the two teams played was in 1995, a 34-21 Bulldog win.
Eufaula, 2-1 overall and 0-1 in the region, opened the season beating Carroll 50-7 in Ozark. Perhaps the biggest shock in this area, Eufaula beat Central 38-36 in their second game. Robert E Lee spoiled the Tigers’ first region game, winning 25-10 in Montgomery’s Crampton Bowl.
EHS has scored 98 points while allowing 68 points in three games, while OHS has scored 52 points while yielding 43 points in two games.
The Tigers finished 9-3 last year, losing in the second round of the 6A playoffs 56-49 to Hueytown in overtime.
Fans can purchase tickets online at www.gofan.co by searching “Opelika High.” The cost is $8 per ticke with a $1 surcharge for each. As of earlier in the week, tickets were available.
Opelika and Eufaula can be heard on WKKR 97.7 Kicker fm, online at kickerfm.com. The live stream of the game is free, thanks to the Orthopaedic Clinic. Go online to www.nfhsnetwork.com, set up an account and search Opelika High. You will be directed to the game page. Make sure you choose OPELIKA PRODUCTION or you will be asked to pay. Most Alabama High schools live stream most sporting events, including football. If you choose the wrong school, a fee will be requested.
OCS: STUDENTS MUST ATTEND CLASS IN-PERSON OR NO EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
Opelika City School Superintendent Mark Neighbors confirmed to me that all OCS students must attend class in person if they want to play sports or participate in extracurricular activities. Homeschooled students are allowed by law to dual enroll and play sports or participate in activities.
Neighbors, replying to my inquiry, stated, “[OCS] cannot ask what reasons parents chose virtual learning, and common sense is that families made the choice not to send their children to school for reasons regarding health of their child or family members. We certainly respect and support that decision. Likewise, it would not make sense to open other school activities to virtual students that would expose them to potential health issues.”
Opelika School System receives money based on all students enrolled, virtually and traditionally. Alabama State Superintendent Dr Eric Mackey asked school systems to be flexible during the 2020-21 school year due to COVID-19. The rule from Superintendent Neighbors prevented numerous students from being in the marching band, among other sports and activities during the school year. By contrast, Auburn City Schools allows students to participate in sports and activities if they choose either virtual or traditional.
The decision to allow students to participate in school activities if they choose virtual learning is up to local school systems. Neighbors’s statement appears to paint a broad brush on parents who choose virtual learning, instead of looking at each parent’s situation.
D. Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys State Director and vice president of the A-O Sports Council.