Woodland won, Wadley lost, and the 1A Region 5 race is just getting started. That's the takeaway from an eventful Friday night in the region that features two of the four county teams.
Wadley stood toe-to-toe with unbeaten Winterboro before falling 15-12, while Woodland broke out of an offensive slump and thumped Donoho 33-14.
Now Winterboro stands alone atop the region, but not convincingly so. The Bulldogs' last two wins have come by nearly identical scores of 15-13 over Ragland and 15-12 over Wadley. When you consider that Wadley beat Victory Christian by two points, and Woodland gave Ragland all it could handle in a 15-6 loss last week, you have the makings of a region where anything could happen among the top four or five teams.
Woodland placed itself in that upper echelon with its win over Donoho Friday night. The Bobcats got four touchdowns from Parker Woodham and continued their good work defensively.
Outside of the third quarter against Randolph County in which the Bobcats surrendered three quick touchdowns, Woodland has allowed just 52 points (or 12.5 points per game) this year. RCHS is the only team to score more than two touchdowns against the Bobcats in four games.
In fact, even with last week's loss to Ragland, Woodland still controls its own destiny in the race for the region championship. If Woodland figured out a way to run the table in its remaining four region games, the Bobcats would almost certainly be region champs. That might be a tall task, but it's not a completely unrealistic goal given how evenly matched all these teams look.
Wadley cannot say the same thing about controlling its own destiny, however, after a tough loss to Winterboro Friday.
The Bulldogs led 6-0 early but gave up a pair of touchdown runs in the second and fourth quarters to fall behind 15-6. The PAT on the second Winteboro touchdown proved to be the difference as it stretched the lead to nine points and put Wadley in position to need two scores to win.
Wadley could have folded late in the fourth after eighth grader Bryant Langley was injured and had to be carried off the field on a stretcher. (Langley was later airlifted from the field after the game, with concerns about an injury in his jaw and/or neck area.) But his teammates kept their slim hopes alive with a 32-yard touchdown pass from Lakevion O'Neal to Issac Minnifield with 16 seconds left in the game that cut the Winterboro lead to three points.
But Wadley could not recover the onside kick attempt, and Winterboro was able to take a knee to secure the victory.
Jacob Marable led Wadley with 21 carries for 153 yards. It was the second straight game that Marable rushed for over 100 yards but was held without a touchdown. Both of Wadley's scores came through the air, the first coming on an 11-yard strike from O'Neal to Wyatt Smith late in the first quarter.
The other wrinkle in this region from Friday night came courtesy of Victory Christian, the team that Wadley beat last week and that was definitely still a contender even after that game. But the Lions' season dynamics took a turn for the worse Friday when they forfeited their game against Talladega County Central, presumably over concerns related to COVID-19. That loss could be a major factor down the road if playoff seeding needs to be decided by tiebreakers.
There's plenty of drama and probably a few surprises left in this region, and we'll see it start to play out in two weeks when Woodland and Wadley meet head-to-head.
Handley 32, Cleburne County 0
Clay Central 51, Beauregard 6
BB Comer 46, Ranburne 18
RCHS 33, Horseshoe Bend 12
We'll have full coverage of all of Friday's games in next week's print edition of the Randolph Leader.