Six area football teams still chasing a championship

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Photos by Robert Noles/Opelika Observer Opelika High School won against the Hillcrest Patriots last Friday night.

By Wil Crews
sportscrews@opelikaobserver.com

Seven area football teams played in either the AHSAA or AISA playoffs this weekend with six emerging victorious and one, Notasulga, seeing its season come to a close.

The Class 1A Region 4 No. 2 seeded Notasulga lost 57-28 in a second-round matchup against the Class 1A Region 2 No. 1 seed Sweet Water Bulldogs. The Blue Devils end their season 8-2 and were eliminated in the second round for the second year running.

Glenwood and Chambers County advanced to their respective AISA championships game, and the allure of gold must be at the forefront of their minds. Auburn, Central, Opelika and Lanett all survived and must remain focused as they are just one win away from clinching a championship berth.

The following is a list of the remaining playoff games featuring area teams, a brief recap of their win last week and a preview of their upcoming game. Stats are collectively gathered from www.maxpreps.com and www.ahsfhs.org.

Photos by Robert Noles/Opelika Observer
Opelika High School won against the Hillcrest Patriots last Friday night.

AHSAA Class 7A

No. 1 Auburn v. No. 2 Central: Auburn High (10-1) won its second-round playoff game against the Daphne Trojans by a score of 13-7. The Auburn defense left its mark on the game, allowing only 46 yards and recording seven sacks. Auburn is typically led by a prolific offense that features the school’s co-leader in career touchdown passes at quarterback and two standouts at both running back and receiver. Auburn has averaged 33.4 points per game while allowing only 14.1. The Central Red Devils (8-4) won their matchup last Friday against the Region 1 No. 1 seed Theodore with a last minute, 30-24, nail-biting victory. Central began the season with two losses and lost to Oxford and Auburn by one point earlier this season. The Red Devils play best when they run the ball effectively and are led by running back Gerald Davis, who already has five rushing touchdowns through two playoff games. The Red Devils have averaged 35.75 points per game this season while allowing opponents to score an average of 23. Central bounced Auburn from the playoff in this round in 2019, but it’s Auburn that won the matchup between these two heavyweight contenders earlier this season. Needless to say, we have title-fight-high expectations for 2020’s round two. The game is scheduled to be played at Duck-Samford Stadium on Friday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m.

AHSAA Class 6A

No. 1 Opelika v. No. 2 Saraland: The Opelika Bulldogs (9-2) defeated the Hillcrest Patriots, 28-0, in their second-round playoff game last Friday. Senior running back Eric Watts ran for over 200 yards in the victory and brought his two-game playoff rushing touchdown total to four. The Bulldogs are averaging 36 points per game on the season and hold their opponents to an average of just 20. Their opponent, the Saraland Spartans (10-2), defeated Lee by a score of 31-0 in their second-round playoff game. The Spartans have averaged 39.3 points per game on offense for the season while allowing only 11.4. The Bulldogs will look to the future for hope in this matchup, as Opelika is 0-2 all-time against Saraland. Max Preps ranks Saraland the No. 3 in all of 6A football with Opelika coming in at No. 5. Saraland hosts, as the Bulldogs face their first road-playoff test on Friday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m.

AHSAA Class 2A

No. 1 Lanett v. No. 1 Leroy: The defending champion Region 4 No. 1 seed Lanett Panthers (10-2) defeated the Long Rebels by a score of 37–3 in their second-round playoff matchup. The Panther offense has been flying high in the playoffs with a 44 points-per-game average through two games. The Lanett defense isn’t slouching either, holding its opponents to a combined 10 points in the first two rounds. The Leroy Bears (9-1) defeated Geneva County 26-16 in their second-round playoff game. The Bears have averaged 35.5 points per game this season and held their opponents to an average of 15.3. According to maxpreps.com, Lanett enters the game as a slight favorite as it is ranked the No. 2 team in all of Class 2A football and Leroy is ranked No. 5. The game is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. at Leroy High School.

AISA Class AAA

No. 1 Glenwood v. No. 2 Pike: The Glenwood Gators (11-0) remained perfect on the season after dismissing the Morgan Academy Senators from the second round of the playoffs in a convincing 35-6 win. All season, it hasn’t looked like any team has the quality to match that of the Gators and that sentiment remained true last week. Their opponents this week, the Pike Liberal Arts Patriots (9-2), did away with Bessemer Academy in their second-round playoff matchup, winning by a score of 35-15. Glenwood was surely happy with that result, as Bessemer Academy defeated the Gators in last year’s championship game. According to Max Preps — or anyone who has watched a Glenwood game this season and has any common sense — the Gators are the favorite in the championship game. Additionally, Glenwood beat Pike 26-7 in their matchup earlier this season. It’s been three weeks since that however, and the No. 1 ranked Gators will battle the No. 2 Patriots again — this time at 7 p.m. at Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl for the AISA Class AAA championship title.

AISA Class AA

No. 1 Chambers Academy v. No. 1 Escambia: The Chambers Academy Rebels (11-1) moved up a class after losing in the 2019 AISA Class A State Championship Game and are headed to the 2020 AISA Class AA Championship Game after a dominant 51-20 win over the Edgewood Academy Wildcats in the second round of the playoffs. The Rebels have had no trouble adjusting to the step-up in difficulty of opponents and are led by senior dual-threat quarterback Payton Allen, who leads a balanced Rebel offense. Their opponent, the Escambia Academy Cougars (10-1), also lost in a championship game last season. They advanced to this year’s championship after defeating the Macon East Montgomery Academy (MEMA) Knights by a score of 54-13. The only blemish on their resume is a respectable 24-22 loss to the undefeated Class 3A Glenwood Gators. The old saying, “act like you’ve been there before,” applies wholly to the Cougars, who have now advanced to the championship game in six straight seasons. This is a matchup of the two best teams possible, with Escambia ranked No. 1 and Chambers Academy ranked No. 2 in AISA Class AA, respectively, according to Max Preps. The Cougars have averaged 35.9 points per game on the season and allowed just 10.9 on average to their opponents. The Rebels are averaging a whopping 45.1 points per game, having allowed only 11.8 per game to opponents. There is little to split these two teams, and both are perhaps deserving in such a challenging year. However, only one can emerge victorious in the championship game on Nov. 20 at 3:30 p.m. at Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl.

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