Week 9 predictions

Published 5:11 pm Monday, October 12, 2015

Briarwood is essentially in a win-or-go-home scenario this Friday. Will the Lions pull out a win and punch a playoff ticket? (File)

Briarwood is essentially in a win-or-go-home scenario this Friday. Will the Lions pull out a win and punch a playoff ticket? (File)

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor

Week 8 record: 6-3. Overall record: 52-14.

There are only three weeks left in the regular season. Three weeks! Wow. Time really got away from us, didn’t it? We saw a little bit of everything in Week 7. Some heartbreakers, some shutouts, a couple potentially season-saving wins and a statement win for a young program all on one night. That’s a lot to handle. We hit on a couple and missed on a couple last week, and we’ll own up to the misses in a second. Let’s go ahead dive into this week, which has a few crucial matchups waiting to be unpacked.


Oak Mountain vs. Spain Park

The Jaguars have shut out three of their last four opponents and are looking like a bona fide championship contender. Shawn Raney’s defense is suffocating people and the offense is operating at an incredibly efficient clip as Spain Park has won its last six games by an average score of 23-7. Oak Mountain, conversely, has not been able to catch lightning in a bottle like it did a season ago. The Eagles have been close all season, their three region losses have come by an average of less than a touchdown, but haven’t been able to live up to the lofty, and obviously now in hindsight misleading, expectations people like me placed on this group before the season started. The outside shot Oak Mountain has at the playoffs dies on Friday, as Spain Park is operating on a different level right now. Spain Park 28 – Oak Mountain 21.


Thompson vs. Tuscaloosa County

Thompson was going to need a Herculean push to see the postseason, and that lingering flame of hope was extinguished last Friday by Hewitt-Trussville. Now, in a strange way, Mark Freeman’s bunch can play uninhibited as this group’s time on the field now has a finite end in sight. This Warriors group welcomes in winless Tuscaloosa County this Friday, which is potentially the best team in the state without a win. It’s possible Thompson drops this game, but this crop of seniors will make sure it doesn’t come to that. Thompson 24 – Tuscaloosa County 17.


Briarwood vs. Minor

An all-too-common coaching colloquialism is that the next game on the schedule is the most important game, even if that is obviously not the case to any human with a brain that works. In this case, however, Briarwood’s next game is its most important game. Both Minor and Briarwood are 3-2 in the region, and both need a win here as the loser is essentially out of playoff contention. On paper, Minor has the edge. Briarwood has put up just 78 points this season. 78. That isn’t very many points. Minor has nearly tripled that total so far this year. But none of that matters here. One game, winner stays, loser goes home. This Briarwood team has won three of its last four, all by two touchdowns or less, and seems to have figured something out. Let’s see what you got, Lions, we’re sticking with you. Briarwood 17 – Minor 7.


Chelsea vs. Pell City

In the first five games of the season, the most points in any game Chelsea had relinquished were 21. The Hornets have now given up 40 or more twice in a row in back-to-back losses. Opelika and Benjamin Russell are two of the top 6A teams in the state, but regardless, that’s not what Chris Elmore wants to see out of his veteran defensive unit. Chelsea returns home to face a middling Pell City team that won last year’s contest 35-33, which Chelsea has not forgotten. The Hornets will get back on track this week. Chelsea 42 – Pell City 21.


Pelham at John Carroll Catholic

Neither team has won a game. Neither team has frankly come that close to winning a game, with only one loss by less than 10 points between the two. John Carroll has given up 317 points this season to date, an average of 45 points per game. That’s a lot of points. Pelham gets its first, and potentially only, win of the year this Friday on the road. Pelham 31 – John Carroll Catholic 14.


Calera vs. Dallas County

Woof. Calera’s 38-14 loss to Helena last Friday was the worst loss the Eagles have suffered since Wiley McKeller’s first year as a head coach back in 2011. Straight up, Calera got whipped. That dropped the Eagles to 3-2 in the region, currently in fourth place clinging on to the last playoff slot available. Calera has to develop some short-term amnesia, as it welcomes in a Dallas County team that is 4-1 in the region. The Eagles should bounce back in this one. Calera 35 – Dallas County 21.


Helena vs. Sumter Central

Hi, Helena. Nice to see you again, Helena. Glad to see you’re reading, Helena. Welcome to the party, Helena. Sorry we doubted you, Helena.


The Huskies came on to the scene in a big way with a very, very convincing win over Calera last Friday night. Taking away the Demopolis loss, Helena is now winning games by a clip of 37-15 this season, proving this young program has to be taken seriously now. The winning continues this week against a pedestrian Sumter Central team. Helena 35 – Sumter Central 14.


Shelby County vs. Talladega

The Wildcats deserved better than this. They really did. Heath Childers team has now lost two games by a single point this season, and the most recent loss knocked them out of playoff contention. Shelby County has scored 248 points through eight games, and if the Wildcats didn’t score another point all season that would be the highest total since 2009 when they won nine games. This is a competent, capable football team with a dynamic offense that is fun to watch and is better than its 2-6 record shows. It’s a shame this group only gets two more games this year. Shelby County gets a much needed and much deserved win at home this week against a struggling Talladega team. Shelby County 45 – Talladega 28.


Vincent vs. Pickens County

215 points allowed in the last four weeks, zero points scored in the last four weeks. Head coach Jason Hill is one of the most genuine men in the business, but this Yellow Jacket team isn’t winning in 2015. Pickens County 52 – Vincent 7.