ON THE MARK
D. MARK MITCHELL
Friday night, 64 teams in classes 1A through 6A will compete in the first round of the state playoffs this week. Thirty-two 7A teams will play in the first round Friday night. The AHSAA Super 7 is in Birmingham’s Protective Stadium, Dec. 1 through 3. This is the first time Super 7 is being played in Birmingham since 2004, when the cities of Auburn-Opelika and Tucaloosa joined together and formed a partnership in an effort to lure the games to Jordan-Hare Stadium and Tuscaloosa.
The AHSAA, with pressure from the city of Birmingham, worked a 12-year contract between Auburn-Opelika, Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. The three stadiums will host four Super 7 championships in the next 12 years. The move received glowing reviews from high school coaches and administrators throughout Alabama. Former AHSAA Executive Director, Steve Savarese, took the lead and made the new partnership come to life. It’s a move that will go down in history as one of the best moves during his 13-year tenure at the helm of the AHSAA.
Former Assistant Executive Director Alvin Briggs was named executive director in early summer. Briggs held his first playoff meeting last Saturday in Montgomery, with the next three being virtual. The AHSAA continues to be one of the best high school athletic association in the United States.
The Opelika Bulldog varsity football team (7-3) host Northridge (7-3) in the first round of the AHSAA 6A State Football Playoffs, at Bulldog Stadium on Friday. Opelika did not play last week, choosing to play 10 games in a row with a bye at the end of the season in an effort to prepare for the playoffs.
The Jaguars from Northridge finished fourth in Region 4, behind Hueytown, Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa and McAdory. NHS lost three region games, Hillcrest (49-14), Hueytown (75-55) and McAdory (11-27). The seven wins were over Sisey Valley (28-6), Central-Tuscaloosa (35-16), Paul Bryant (28-7), Bessemer City (42-20), Brookwood (35-18), Gordo (24-21) and Tuscaloosa County (37-6) last week.
The Dogs have a good opportunity to beat Northridge and advance to the second round of the playoffs. OHS would probably host Spanish Fort at Bulldog Stadium. If so, it would be the first time in four all-time meeting that the Toros would visit Bulldog Stadium. The prior three playoff games were played in Spanish Fort.
The top four teams in the 6A South Bracket are: Saarland, Spanish Fort, Hueytown and Opelika.
Fans attending the game should purchase tickets online at gofan.co, for $11.50 after surcharges are added. (This is the only way to purchase tickets to AHSAA Playoff games.)
OHS CROSS COUNTRY
The OHS Cross Country team’s participated in the AHSAA 6A Sectional meet at Auburn’s Kielsel Park, last Saturday.
Opelika’s girls team won the “Sectional Meet”, qualifying for the State Cross Country Meet. Lady Bulldog Breckin Gould, as predicted, won the meet with a time of 20:25.34. OHS ninth grader Mary Evans Cooper was second (22:38.03), Violett Alcorn placed third (22:53.90), Morgan Bice finished fifth (22:57.47), Joanne Smith T earned sixth (23:08.29), Susan Gaston was seventh (23:18.21), Paola Torres finished eighth (23:24.94), Jasmine Jordan rounded out the top-10 (24:33.82) and Carlie Moates and Kiley Brooks finished 12th and 15th, respectively.
The OHS boys finished second, behind Wetumpka. The top Bulldog, Michael Hart, finished fourth (18:14.52), Conner Mullins placed sixth (18:30.2), Brantley Turnham placed seventh (18:49.71), Sam Kemp was ninth (19:10.32), Peyton Weston finished 10th (19:13.47), Zalen Shaw earned 16th, Trey White 17th, Zane Sexton 18th, Mitch McCollough 19th and Ben Bell 20th.
The two teams qualified for the AHSAA 6A State Championship Meet on Saturday, Nov. 6 at Oakhill Indian Mounds Park in Moulton.
Good luck to the OHS cross country teams!
D. Mark Mitchell is the sports director at iHeartMedia, host of “On the Mark” Fox Sports the Game 910-1310, co-chairof the Auburn-Opelika Sports Council, chairman of the Super 7 and Dixie Boys Baseball state director.