By D. Mark Mitchell
The Opelika Bulldogs (4-4 overall, 4-1 in region play) team entered last Friday’s region game against Stanhope Elmore (5-4 overall, 4-1 in region play) needing a win, which would cause a three-way tie for 6A Region 3 championship, move them to .500 for the season and earn a playoff berth.
It only took Opelika 2:10 to score last Friday night. Junior placekicker Marshall Meyers nailed a 24-yard field goal to give the Bulldogs an early 3-0 lead.
Opelika’s Zachary Collins intercepted a Mustang pass 18 seconds later, giving the Bulldogs the football at their opponent’s 16-yard line. One play later, Brantan Barnett rushed 16 yards for his first of five touchdowns in the game.
Kani Kellum and Nate Evans scored on runs of seven and 20 yards respectively. Tyson recovered a Stanhope fumble and returned 25 yards for a TD. Baker Rowtan added the respective PATs.
Barnett, who finished with 20 carries for 140 yards, added rushing scores of four and two yards, along with a a 13-yard TD reception. Quarterback Cade Blackmon finished the night 13-of-23 passing for 208 yards and a touchdown.
The Bulldog defense recorded five sacks including two by Miles Magee and Marcus Tyson, who led with five tackles and an interception.
The way Opelika won the game is “just what the doctor ordered.” The fast start, solid defense and special teams as well as efficient offense contributed to the victory.
ELMORE TIE FOR REGION TITLE
Wetumpka earned the number-one seed in the playoffs after using the AHSAA tiebreakers. Opelika is the second seed, Stanhope Elmore is the third seed and Benjamin Russell is the fourth seed.
It appears that Opelika will host St. Paul, Region 1 third seed, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium.
OPELIKA HOSTS VIGOR
Opelika closes the regular season against 9-0 Vigor Friday night at Bulldog Stadium. The 5A Wolves arrive allowing only 38 points all season, with 16 of those points coming in a 58-16 win over LaFlore. The offense has compiled 297 points through nine games.
Following is a game-by-game breakdown of Vigor’s season: 19-6 over Blount; 45-0 over Wilcox Central; 40-3 over Satsuma; 40-6 over Jackson; 21-7 over Murphy; 52-16 over LaFlore; 41-0 over Faith Academy and 39-0 over Citronelle.
A win for Opelika insures a winning regular season record and would be the fourth win in a row heading into a open week prior to the start of the playoffs. Vigor is a quality 5A opponent that will test the Bulldogs. The team has size and speed. Look for Opelika to continue to roll and play well in front of the home crowd.
Opelika’s volleyball team (11-5) continues to play well heading into the area tournament. The Lady Bulldogs defeated Smiths Station 3-0 on the road last week.
The girls hosted the area tournament last night, sweeping Russell County 3-0 to win the area tournament championship Monday night at the Sports Arena.
Four Opelika players earned All-Area Tournament team, Lauren White, Claire Worth, Mattrice Harris and Megan Noon.
Opelika Coach Robin Roberts team advances to the super-regionals in Montgomery for the first time in more than 25 years.
The team will play Thursday at 2 p.m. at the Multiplex at Crampton Bow in Montgomery.
The Opelika girls and boys basketball teams started practice for the upcoming season. Coaches Devin Booth and John Wadsworth continue to lead the programs. The two coaches have walked the sidelines for more than 10 years each.
The girls are coming off a region championship, regional championship and a trip to the Final four in Birmingham. The boys are coming off a region championship and state playoff trip to the regionals.
Opelika opens Nov. 8 against Prattville at the Sports Arena, with tipoff set for 7 p.m.
SUPER 7 AT JORDAN-HARE
The AHSAA Super 7 Football Championship returns to Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium, December 5-7. This will be the fifth time the AHSAA Football Championship will be held in our area. The cities of Auburn and Opelika partnered with Tuscaloosa 14 years ago in an effort to lure the event to the University of Alabama and Auburn University.
The first game features the 7A Championship Dec. 5 at 7 pm. Thursday will start with an FCA breakfast at 8 a.m. for high school coaches. The 3A championship starts at 11 a.m., 1A at 3 p.m. and 5A at 7 p.m. 4A kicks off Friday at 11 a.m., 2A at 3 p.m. and 6A at 7 p.m. Go to ahsaasuper7.com for tickets or more information.
D. Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys state director and vice president of the A-O Sports Council.