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Last week Results (Friday Sept. 29th)
- Clay Ctrl. 48, Alexandria 13
- Handley 42, Lanett 27
- RCHS 49, Wadley 6
- Mo Winston, RCHS: 16 car., 88 yards, 4 TD 1 rec., 11 yards
- LaDamion Boyd, Central: 10 car., 131 yards, TD 1 rec., 21 yards, TD
- Cannon Kyles, Handley: 7-13, 126 yards, 2 TD
- Rinza Winston, Handley: 10 car., 105 yards
- Amari Molden, RCHS: 10 car., 119 yards, TD
- Darren Harris, Central: 64 rush yards, TD 115 pass yards, TD
One thing that you can take away from RCHS’s absolute mastery of Wadley in their cross-county game last Friday is the simple inevitability of the Tigers’ offense.
Yes, they forced turnovers on defense and yes, that defensive unit completely stymied Wadley’s vaunted run game. In fact, given who the opponent was you could make a compelling case that that RCHS defensive effort was its best of the season.
But looking at RCHS as a whole, even when that type of defensive performance hasn’t been there, even when they’ve turned the ball over and made mistakes, the Tigers have never truly been stopped from scoring whenever they have put forth the effort to do so.
Wadley got a lesson in that Friday, but they are just the Tigers’ latest victim. RCHS has scored at least 40 points in four of its five games this year, and in the one exception they scored 38.
They can run, run, run – and when they have to pass they can do that too.
Things snowballed in their favor in the second quarter against Wadley, and the Bulldogs could not recover.
And now that RCHS has cleared that hurdle it’s safe to start entertaining the very real possibility of a 10-0 regular season and just the second region championship for the Tigers under head coach Pat Prestridge.
Folks who cruise scoreboards to make comparisons between teams (like I do) will see the Handley-Lanett score and probably scratch their heads a little bit – and maybe even question how good Handley actually is.
That would be a mistake.
Handley scored four touchdowns on its first four possessions and exerted very little effort doing so. Some of the offensive starters, including quarterback Cannon Kyles, took their last snaps before the second quarter began.
Don’t let the final score fool you. This was a name-your-score type of game for Handley, and head coach Larry Strain opted to empy his bench over the final three quarters so that score remained respectable.
Now that those week five non-region games are done and each team in Leader land has played five games, it’s time to look ahead at what’s coming up because each team’s season will likely be decided in the next three games.
All six schools have region games in each of their next three contests. Wadley, Handley, Clay Central and RCHS are all unbeaten in region play and control their own fates when it comes to winning their respective regions. Win the next three games and three of those four teams will be region champions. RCHS may be the one exception, but they too could very well find themselves secure even before their region finale against Dadeville on October 27.
Some of those paths are a little easier than others.
With Victory Christian, Winterboro and Talladega County Central coming up after this week’s off week, Wadley is probably looking at the clearest path (although Winterboro could present something of a challenge).
If Handley gets by Anniston Friday, they will have clear sailing to a title as Talladega, Munford and Cleburne County are a combined 4-11, and three of those four victories have come against each other.
RCHS may get some resistance against Walter Wellborn next week, and of course you can’t overlook Dadeville even in what has become a down year for them (understandably so, given the tragedy that school has dealt with over the past year).
And Clay Central has to face its two biggest in-region challengers over the next three weeks, with Valley this week and Beauregard on October 20.
But the way all of those local teams have been playing, don’t be surprised if they all enter the playoffs as No. 1 seeds.
And here’s where a note on a future potential playoff opponent is worth mentiioning.
It was announced over the weekend that Coosa Christian – a state semifinalist in Class 1A last year and an expected contender again this year – was forced to forfeit all of its wins from the first half of the season due to playing an ineligible player in those games. Coosa could very well win its remaining region contests, but those forfeit losses leave the very real possibility that they make the playoffs as the No. 4 seed out of their region, instead of at or near the top where they would have been.
If they are the No. 4 and Wadley wins its region, then we could be looking at a first-round game between two teams with real hopes of playing the state championship game. It’s something to keep an eye on as the next few weeks unfold.
Games this week (7 p.m. Friday)
- Valley at Clay Ctrl.
- Anniston at Handley
- RCHS at Saks
- Ctrl Coosa at Woodland
- Ranburne at Vincent