Seven area teams advance in playoffs

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By Wil Crews
Sportscrews@opelikaobserver.com

The first round of the AHSAA and AISA playoffs have come and gone. Twelve area teams qualified for the playoffs but only seven advanced to the second round last weekend. Five teams: Lee-Scott, Springwood, Loachapoka, LaFayette and Dadeville were eliminated and saw their 2020 seasons come to an end. For the victors, there’s no time to rest on any laurels. The next step towards high school football immortalization lies ahead this weekend. The following is a list of the remaining playoff games featuring area teams, a brief recap of their first round win and a preview of their upcoming matchup. Stats are collectively gathered from maxpreps.com and ahsfhs.org.

AHSAA Class 7A

No. 1 Auburn v. No. 2 Daphne: Auburn High (9-1) won their home first-round playoff game against the Baker Hornets by a score of 39-3. The Auburn defense led the way, recording four interceptions; and quarterback Matthew Caldwell threw four touchdowns – tying the school’s single season record at 18. Daphne (11-1) had a much tougher first round game. The Trojans emerged victorious over the Prattville Lions, winning 42-33. Auburn already played Prattville in week three of the regular season and won 22-0. Daphne also played Baker earlier in the season and won 50-25. The upcoming game is likely to be shootout with Daphne averaging 30.25 points per game this season and Auburn averaging 35.67. The difference could come on the defensive side of the ball.

No. 1 Theodore v. No. 2 Central: Last week, the Theodore Bobcats (10-1) defeated Enterprise in a 40-28 win. Theodore were down by one at the half but relied on their rushing game – to the tune of 350 plus yards – to lead them to victory. The Central Red Devils (7-4) defeated Fairhope by a score of 49-21 in their first-round playoff game. Central running back Gerald Davis ran in three touchdowns, the Red Devil’s defense scored twice and quarterback Caleb Nix added a rushing touchdown before Fairhope even got points on the board. Theodore are on a 10 game win streak after losing their season opener. Central have had a more up and down season but have kicked it into gear offensively recently, scoring over 30 points in all of their last four games.

AHSAA Class 6A

No. 1 Opelika v. No. 2 Hillcrest: The Opelika Bulldogs (8-2) beat the Wetumpka Indians 51-28 in their first-round playoff game. Opelika had a special teams and a defensive touchdown and had five different players score. Hillcrest (9-2) defeated McGill-Tooler by a score of 31-21. They also defeated Wetumpka earlier in the season 35-30. Hillcrest has developed a reputation of relying on the pass this season, but it was the rushing game that led them to victory last week. Overall, this is a matchup of offensive and defensive juggernauts. For the season, Hillcrest have averaged 37.9 points per game while Opelika have only given up 15.1.

ASHAA Class 2A

No. 1 Lanett v. No. 2 Long: The Lanett Panthers (9-2) nearly shut out the Blacksher Bulldogs and won their first-round playoff game by a score of 51-7. The Panthers took a 39-0 lead into halftime thanks to big plays by their quarterback, running back and defense – which had a scoop-and-score touchdown. Lanett’s only two loses of the year came in overtime and the Panthers have had four shutouts while allowing only 5.2 points per game in total. Their opponent the Long Rebels (9-1) are coming off of a 17-0 victory over Luverne. Ignoring their forfeit win, Long has also fielded a stout defense this season, holding opponents to 21 points or fewer in all but one game. The offense is just as impressive, putting up more than 50 points on three occasions. This one promises to be a close game as according to maxpreps.com, Lanett is ranked the No. 14 team in the Columbus-Opelika and Long is right behind them at No. 15.

AHSAA Class 1A

No. 1 Sweet Water v. No. 2 Notasulga:  The Sweet Water Bulldogs (7-2) swept the Shields Panthers away in a 61-22 first-round playoff victory. The Bulldogs were heavy favorites and had their biggest lead of the night (40-0) at the end of the first quarter. Before Friday, Sweet Water had averaged 36.8 points per game and allowed an average of just 14.7. The Notasulga Blue Devils (9-1) escaped with a narrow 32-30 win over Florala in their first-round playoff game. The Blue Devils averaged 32.6 points per game and allowed 8.8 points per game in the regular season. Max Preps has Sweet Water as the slight favorite, ranking them the No. 4 team in Class 1A and Notasulga No. 6.

AISA Class AAA

No. 1 Glenwood v. No. 2 Morgan: The Glenwood Gators (10-0) ran 25 offensive plays and scored 55 points in their dominant 55-20 first-round playoff victory on Thursday. Glenwood are the only AISA Class AAA undefeated team. The Gators are led by All-State running back Kye Robichaux and a plethora of other electric offensive playmakers. The best way to avoid understating Glenwood’s dominance – because that would be criminal – is to cite their regular season average margin of victory of 31.5 points. Their opponent, the Morgan Academy Senators (8-2) are coming off of a 56-16 win over Hooper Academy. Glenwood played Hooper earlier in the year and won 56-13. Morgan allowed an average of 29.1 points per game to their opponents in the regular season. They will need to step it up on defense to slow down a Glenwood offense that averaged 43.25 points per game in the regular season.

AISA Class AA

No. 1 Chambers Academy v. No 3. Edgewood: These two teams played on Oct. 9 of this year and Edgewood (7-3) won a closely contested contest at home 40-36. This time, the Chambers Academy Rebels (10-1) will have home field advantage and are coming off of a 43-3 first-round playoff win over Autauga Academy. Senior quarterback Payton Allen is a genuine dual-threat player and the Rebels have been prolific and balanced with him under center. Meanwhile, Edgewood won a thriller against Patrician Academy in their first-round playoff game. By stopping a Patrician two-point conversion attempt with 1:31 on the clock, Edgewood escaped with the win. In the regular season, Chambers averaged 44.7 points per game and allowed 11.9. Edgewood scored 31 points per game and allowed 22.1.

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