Football predictions: Playoff edition
Published 8:54 am Tuesday, November 3, 2015
By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor
Week 11 record: 7-3. Overall record: 76-18.
After missing big on a few games in the last week of the season, the prediction machine finished the regular season with over an 80 percent success rate. 80 percent. Take that kind of success to Vegas and you’re coming back with a new car, ladies and gentlemen. Now, with the playoff picture set and over half of the AHSAA teams in the county playoff bound, along with one AISA team, let’s get down to brass tacks.
Spain Park vs. Hazel Green
After a mind-bending possible set of circumstances and three different conceivable first round opponents leading into the final regular season week, Spain Park is going to face off against Hazel Green, which was already the most likely team to play the Spartans anyway. After starting the season 0-3, the Trojans ripped off five straight victories, including a crucial win against region foe Gadsden City that ended up making the difference for the No. 4 spot in the region. The Trojans ended the regular season on a two-game losing skid, however, and are allowing over 27 points per game while averaging just 23. The Jaguars will be fine in their playoff opener. Spain Park 35 – Hazel Green 7.
Chelsea at Blount
Chelsea, the No. 3 seed in 6A Region 3, will face off against the No. 2 seed in Region 1, the Blount Leopards. Blount and Saraland squared off on Oct. 29 for the two-seed in the region, and Blount came out on top by a final of 34-30, and will host the Hornets in the first round as a result.
The region pairing is rather undesirable for Chelsea seeing as Spanish Fort, Blount and Saraland, the top three teams in Region 1, are all in the 6A top 10 and have been bulldozing people all season. Blount is led by junior quarterback Kadarius Toney, a nightmare to contain defensively who can beat a defense with his arm or his legs. The Hornets have struggled to contain playmaking quarterbacks this season, particularly Jake Bentley of Opelika and Walker Lott of Thompson, and this game has all the makings of a rerun of those two. Good season for the Hornets, but Chelsea’s season ends on the road this week. Blount 42 – Chelsea 28.
Briarwood at Fort Payne
Fort Payne, the top team in 6A Region 7, has averaged 31 points per game this season and scored 28 or more six times in the regular season. Briarwood on the other hand has averaged 14 points per game this season, a number greatly propped up by the 34 points the Lions hung on John Carroll two weeks ago. The fact this team started 0-3 and still found a way to make the playoffs is celebration enough for Fred Yancey’s team, and Yancey has now made the playoffs 23 years in a row at Briarwood, which is insane. However this season will almost surely end in the mountains of North Alabama on Nov. 6. Fort Payne 28 – Briarwood 10.
Helena vs. Sidney Lanier
The Huskies will host their first-ever playoff game on Sept. 6 when the No. 3 seed from Region 2, Sidney Lanier, comes to town. After starting the season 0-3, the Poets have gone 4-2 down the stretch, and each of their four wins have come during region competition. This is a banner year for the Poets, who have been bad in recent history. Very bad. They were 9-51 from 2009-2014. But third year head coach Clayton Harris seems to be figuring something out, and this team has won almost half as many games this season as it has in the last six years combined. Regardless, the Poets are putting up just 21 points per game, and Helena should be able to handle them in the first round. Helena 35 – Sidney Lanier 10.
Calera at Eufala
After laying claim to the No. 3 seed in 5A Region 4, the Eagles will travel to Eufala, the second-place team in Region 2. The Tigers have put up some points this season, hanging 60 or more on the board three separate times on their way to an 8-2 regular season finish. Although a deeper look reveals the three teams Eufala scored 60 on went a combined 2-28 this year, so that has to be taken with a large grain of salt. Throwing those three statistics-propping games out the window, the Tigers look much more beatable. They’re averaging just under 30 points per game in their other six games this year, and are giving up right around 21 points a game as well. This is a winnable game for a Calera team that, taking away its three largest victories, is averaging just less than 29 points per game. Calera 35 – Eufala 28.
Montevallo vs. Saint James
The Bulldogs are hosting a first-round playoff game for the first time since 1995. That’s a big deal. No one on the Montevallo roster was alive in 1995. The last time Montevallo won a home playoff game was 1984. Andrew Zow, Montevallo’s head coach, was five years old in 1984. So this is a really big deal for the school and the community. St. James is 5-2 through its last seven games and is averaging 24 points per game on the year, and is not a team to look past lightly. However, this Montevallo team is special, and will no doubt have a huge crowd on hand to cheer them on. Montevallo picks up its first home playoff win in over 30 years. Montevallo 31 – Saint James 21.
Cornerstone Christian at South Choctaw Academy
On the field in 2015, Cornerstone has won just one game. The Chargers were 0-7 heading into their matchup with fellow winless region opponent South Montgomery Academy on Oct. 22, but due to a scheduling mishap, South Montgomery Academy showed up on the wrong day and had to forfeit. Now Cornerstone will travel to South Choctaw Academy, a fringe top-10 team all year in the AISA. Cool story for the Chargers to get to go, but they’re not winning this one. South Choctaw Academy 35 – Cornerstone 7.