Playoffs begin

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By D.Mark Mitchell

The Opelika Bulldogs (8-1, 9-1 if you count win over Carver in the Champions Challenge) finished the regular season with a road win over Enterprise 48-10 at Wildcat Stadium last Friday night.
OHS scored 34 first half points to erase any thoughts the Wildcats would win the game. The offense was led by junior running back Josh Johnson and senior quarterback Mathew Christian.
Johnson rushed for 155 yards and scored three rushing touchdowns. (Josh has rushed for 1008 yards in nine games) Quarterback Mathew Christian was 7 of 10 for 120 yards, including a 54 yard TD toss to James Moss.
Other players to score: Tanner Blatt sprinted 46 yards for a TD, Nate Huggins ran 25 yards for a score, and Reggie Bush scored the last OHS TD on a 4-yard run with 10:54 left in the game. Hunter Weygand booted six PAT’s.
The Dawgs continue to play stingy defense. Enterprise gained only 154 total yards – their lowest of the season. Keep in mind, Opelika played reserves the entire second half.
The win came easier than I anticipated. I applaud the Opelika football team for travelling two hours and 30 minutes to play the last regular season game, knowing it has no playoff implications. I predicted a close game we would win in the fourth quarter – bad prediction. This OHS football team has earned the right to play at home in the first round of the AHSAA 6A State playoffs.
OPELIKA vs WETUMPKA
Opelika will host the 6-4 Wetumpka Indians in the first round of the Class 6A state play-offs, 7 p.m. kick-off, tonight at Bulldog Stadium.
The Indians finished fourth in Region 2 behind Carver, Dothan and Stanhope Elmore. Wetumpka defeated Thompson 28-13, Huffman 43-42, Russell Co 27-6, Park Crossing 25-17, Carroll 42-12 and Northview 27-20. The losses were to Dothan 28-8, Stanhope Elmore 21-10, Carver 23-7 and RE Lee 26-7.
The Indians use several quarterbacks and will try to throw tonight. The defense seemed to be playing better earlier in the season than now. Wetumpka will have to play the perfect game tonight in order to win. I know anything can happen, but Opelika is playing in the friendly confines of Bulldog Stadium and is a better team.
Opelika Coach Brian Blackmon and his staff have the Dawgs playing good football. We seem to be peaking at the right time. We played for the 6A State Title two years ago, and our coaches and the seniors understand what it takes to play in the championship game at the Super 7. This will be an advantage.
The Dawgs need to continue to play the brand of football we have watched on Friday nights. Play tough defense and establish the running game, which will allow Mathew Christian to throw the football efficiently. We must continue to improve when we kick off and make all extra points and field goals.
The winner of tonight’s game will play the winner of Saraland versus Bessemer City. Saraland is expected to win; if this happens, they will travel to Opelika next week.
You can listen to tonight’s Opelika/Wetumpka game on WKKR 97.7 or online at www.kickerfm.com. The broadcast team consists of former OHS head football coach Larry Gore, former OHS athlete Jeff Sasser providing commentary, former OHS athlete Wade Meadows sideline reporting and myself handling the play-by-play.
Fans can also watch a webcast of the game. Visit www.thedawgnetwork.com or www.opelikaschools.com click on the blue and red NFHS logo to be directed to the NFHS home page so you can register for the game. You will watch the game and hear the Opelika radio crew broadcast.
OPELIKA CROSS COUNTRY TEAMS AT STATE MEET
The OHS girls and boys cross country teams are in Moulton at the Oakville Indian Mounds Park to compete for the state championship after winning the sectional meet in Montgomery.
The boys dominated the sectional meet, taking the top three spots and four out of the top five. The girls surprised some by winning the sectional meet. Both teams have a shot at winning a state championship. The Opelika boys are the favorite to win the meet.
The State Meet starts tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. You can keep up with the meet by going to www.ahsaa.com or www.alabamarunners.com and looking up Alabama State Cross Country Meet.
Good luck to the cross country teams!
LEE COUNTY TEAMS IN THE PLAY-OFFS
Four high school football teams in Lee County earned a right to play in the AHSAA Football playoffs. Besides Opelika, Auburn, Loachapoka and Beauregard will play first round playoff games tonight.
Auburn versus Foley: Coach Tim Carter’s Auburn High Tigers used a strong second half of the season to finish second, behind Central, in their region. Despite finishing  4-5 overall, the Tigers won key region games over Prattville and Smiths Station to earn the play-off spot.
The Tigers host Foley tonight at Duck Samford. Foley finished in third place in their respective Region.
Loachapoka versus Brantley: Loachapoka head Coach Jerome Tate is in his 19th season and has more wins at one school than any coach in the Lee County system.
This will be the 12th consecutive play-off appearance for the Indians. Loachapoka travels to No. 1 Brantley tonight – the powerhouse in 1A football will cause the young Indians some problems.
Beauregard versus Charles Henderson: The Beauregard Hornets, under first year Head Coach Rob Carter (brother of AHS coach Tim Carter), tied for the Region Championship with Tallassee and Clay Central. The Hornets finished third under AHSAA tie-breaker rules.
BHS will travel to Troy Memorial Stadium to play Charles Henderson tonight at 7 p.m. BHS enters tonight’s game healthy. Starting QB Walker Meadows, who injured his ankle early in the season, returned last week and looks ready for a playoff run.
Charles Henderson finished second in their Region and played for the State title a year ago in Tuscaloosa.
Mitchell is sports director for Qantum Radio.

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