County matchup highlights this week’s action

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

Overall record: 6-2

Week 8 record: 56-9 

With two weeks of region play left, the playoff picture for local teams is becoming more clear, but there are still some teams battling for a spot in the postseason, while others like the Thompson Warriors are trying to claim region championships.

So far this season, we’ve seen some local teams playing their best football in recent years, and that shouldn’t change as we near the end of the regular season with teams looking to take advantage of every second they are on the field. 

Oak Mountain vs. Thompson (Game of the Week)

It has been a special season for the Oak Mountain Eagles, but an even more impressive season from the Thompson Warriors. The Eagles are in the midst of one of their best seasons in school history, but now get the pleasure of competing against the No. 1 team in the region and the defending state champs. The Warriors have rolled right through the season and seem to be the heavy favorite to win another state championship. And while Oak Mountain has played great football this year and is easily a playoff team that might even win a postseason game, the Eagles lost 42-7 to Hoover. Personally, I think Thompson is better than Hoover so I would expect the Warriors to handle business. They are so talented on offense and have a weapon at every position that can score a touchdown, which will be tough for Oak Mountain’s defense to handle. In addition to that, the Warriors have given up nine combined points defensively the last three weeks, including two shutouts in that span. The Eagles are improved on both sides of the ball this year, but not even the best in the state have been able to handle Thompson’s playmakers. The more entertaining aspect of this game is that Oak Mountain’s offense has been fantastic at times this season. I know Thompson’s defense is arguably the best in the state, but this is a difficult offense to prepare for, and I think you’ll see the Eagles pull out all the stops to score some points and try to make this one close for a while. But at the end of the night, Thompson will continue to look like the No. 1 team. Thompson 42, Oak Mountain 21

Spain Park vs. Vestavia Hills

Something has to give in this game. Both teams have struggled to find any success this season, and this is a game that will be all about pride. Who hasn’t given up on the season and still has pride for the uniform they put on each Friday night? Each has struggled in both facets of the game with Vestavia losing four of its five head-to-head games this year and Spain Park losing the last five in a row. That said, Spain Park’s offense has shown flashes of great play at times, it just hasn’t been consistent, while the Rebels have lost three of those four games by seven points or less. The Jags won their opener 52-21 on the road and also put up 35 in a 13-point loss to Thompson, proving they can compete with the best. But the defense has given up 31 or more in four straight and is reeling right now. Vestavia has been close to picking up wins against Hoover, Hewitt-Trussville and Oak Mountain—three of the top four teams in the region—which gives me confidence in the Rebels. The inconsistency for the Jags is the only aspect causing me to shy away from picking them, but if the offense does play the game it’s capable of, they have just as good of a shot to win. Spain Park 20, Vestavia Hills 27

Calera at Wetumpka

The Calera Eagles have had to battle through some difficult injuries at the worst possible time right as they hit their difficult stretch of the schedule. It cost them at the end of the game against Stanhope Elmore in a 35-27 loss, and may be tough to overcome against a Wetumpka team that will be in the playoffs. But this is a team that has more fight than it has in a while. Sitting at 3-4 with two forfeit wins, the Eagles have yet to lose a game by more than eight points this season and have two losses by two points or less, showing they’ll compete with everyone. The future is bright whether they win this game or not, but don’t be surprised if the Eagles have a shot late to pull off the victory. Wetumpka is a solid team, but their defense has been suspect at times and the Indians have been inconsistent. If Calera can get healthy enough for this one, they’ll keep up. But the Indians have slightly more veteran experience and enough confidence to come out victorious. Calera 28, Wetumpka 35

Chelsea at Shades Valley

Early in the season, it may not have seemed plausible for Chelsea to win two games in a row, scoring a combined 91 points after scoring three or less in three of their first four games, but that’s exactly what the Hornets have done. Now, they’ve gotten confidence and they’re in the playoff hunt heading into a crucial matchup with Shades Valley. You look at the Mounties and see a team that lost its first six games of the season, and you think this might be a cake walk, but the Mounties have played one of the most difficult schedules in the state, taking on a ranked team just about every week of the season. They’re also coming off a 34-17 victory against Homewood, who was previously unbeaten in region play. That said, this is a prime opportunity for Chelsea to beat a solid football team. The Mounties have struggled to score points this season, while Chelsea’s defense is the highlight of the team. Shades Valley has also given up 31 or more in four games and 41 and 42 in two of the last three weeks. That comes as Chelsea’s offense is gaining steam behind sophomore quarterback Hayden Garrison. But, star running back Collier Blair is such a key piece to this team’s offense and their overall success, and the senior went down with an injury in last week’s win. If he doesn’t play, that could be the ultimate difference maker. Chelsea 24, Shades Valley 28

Helena vs. Stanhope Elmore

It’s no secret that it has been a weird year for the Helena Huskies, who didn’t play for three consecutive weeks right in the meat of their schedule due to forfeiting two games and having a game forfeited against them thanks to COVID-19. But, as the smoke clears, the Huskies got back into action last week with 14-13 win against Calera, which earned them a playoff spot. But regardless, this week, the Huskies will take on a Stanhope Elmore team that has been inconsistent throughout the year, yet to win back-to-back games. And coming off a win in their last outing, that makes the Mustangs due for a loss this week despite coming off a bye week. After not playing for three weeks, the Huskies hungry and fresh right now. With a team that loves to play physical and pound away at other teams, I’d expect them to benefit drastically from that against the inconsistent Mustangs. Helena 28, Stanhope Elmore 20

Montevallo at Holt

Montevallo looks to be a playoff team this year, which is remarkable not just because the Bulldogs are under a first year head coach in Blake Boren, but because they lost almost all of their production from last year and have had several players playing football for the first time in years. But the three and four seed for the playoffs are still up for grabs with Bibb County and American Christian likely taking the top two seeds. If Montevallo wants to grab one of those two spots, it starts this week with Holt and ends next week with Dallas County. Wins in both would give the Bulldogs the three seed out of the region. And the good news is that neither opponent has won a head-to-head game this season. Both also lost to West Blocton, who the Bulldogs beat in their last outing. Montevallo has talent and is getting better each week. Expect that to pay dividends this Friday, especially against a Holt defense that has given up 52 and 54 in its last two head to head games. Montevallo 41, Holt 30 

In a second consecutive top-five matchup, the Vincent Yellow Jackets showed fight against No. 1 Randolph County, but couldn’t overcome a hot Tigers’ offense in a Thursday-night loss. (File)

Vincent vs. B.B. Comer

We knew there was nothing easy about Vincent’s schedule coming into the season. Now, off back-to-back games against ranked teams, including No. 1 Randolph County last week, the Yellow Jackets will get a matchup against a better than expected B.B. Comer team that is 6-1 on the season so far. The Tigers aren’t better than the two previous teams Vincent played but are the third best team in the region and have given up 19 points or less in all six wins this season. That said, they have been in some close wins against teams like Horseshoe Bend and LaFayette. The Jackets still have a lot of offensive talent and have proved that by scoring 38 or more in three of their four games, including posting 38 against the No. 1 team last week, who hadn’t given up more than 27 in a game this season. Because of their offense, the Jackets should hang around in this game, but Comer has shown more consistency on the field this year. Vincent 34, B.B. Comer 42