Lions, Jags, Warriors remain ranked, look for playoff berth

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

We have just four games left in the regular season for most teams and just three region contests, as the postseason picture starts to take shape and teams start earning their ranking.

In the latest ASWA polls, a broken record continues to play as Briarwood, Thompson and Spain Park all remain in their respective top 10 for the eighth consecutive week dating back to the preseason rankings.

For Briarwood, No. 1 in Class 5A, and Thompson, No. 3 in Class 7A, an undefeated record remains on the line each and every Friday night as the two teams currently sit at 6-0.

The Lions are coming off a hard-fought 31-6 win over St. Clair County, or at least as hard fought as a 25-point win can be. So far this season, Briarwood has won with defense and it came in handy in the win over the Saints as the offense turned the ball over on several occasions and made plenty of mistakes.

They have been sound on that side of the ball giving up just 8.3 points per game, which is the best defense in the state. The Lions have given up more than six points just three times and more than seven just twice, not giving up more than 17 in any contest this season.

While the defense is the major reason for that continued success, the Briarwood offense continues getting better each week. Despite some mistakes against St. Clair County, they continue building confidence and doing exactly what they need to do with a strong defense surrounding them.

Briarwood’s schedule the rest of the way features only one team with a winning record and that’s 4A Madison Academy, which means the Lions have a strong shot at an undefeated region championship for the second year in a row.

Thompson hasn’t been any less impressive this year, having one of the school’s best football seasons in history. To put it in perspective, the Warriors haven’t been 6-0 since 1988 and with a win over Spain Park on Friday, they will have clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2006 and started 7-0 for the first time since the 1982 state championship team.

The Warriors have done it offensively behind Taulia Tagovailoa, Joseph Ford, Shadrick Byrd and Ahmad and Mo Edwards as they’re averaging around 500 yards per game and have scored 40-plus points in five straight games.

Spain Park, who will host Thompson in one of the games of the year this Friday, is also still sitting just inside the top 10 at No. 8 in Class 7A.

The Jags started the season with a strong defense and offense, but recently the offense has taken shape, while the defense has faltered. They started the season giving up 19, seven and 14 in their first three games, but have since given up 25-plus in three straight games.

That being said, Spain Park’s offense has kept the team in every game as Braxton Barker has come on strong as one of the best quarterbacks in the state. His top target in Jalen McMillan has been a help, as well and backfield teammates Jalen Henderson and D’Arie Johnson have also done their share of work.

While the Jags have a tough game against Thompson upcoming, they should win three in a row to end the season and make the playoffs.

Class 7A
1. Central-Phenix City (22) (6-0) <ws>317
2. Hoover (4) (5-1) <ws>259
3. Thompson (1) (6-0) <ws>223
4. Hewitt-Trussville (1) 6-0) <ws>204
5. McGill-Toolen (6-0) <ws>172
6. Auburn (5-1) <ws>134
7. Fairhope (5-1) <ws>115
8. Spain Park (4-2) <ws>71
9. Mountain Brook (4-2) <ws>52
10. Sparkman (5-1) <ws>19
Others receiving votes: Davidson (4-2) 13, Lee-Montgomery (5-1) 12, Bob Jones (4-3) 4, Theodore (4-2) 1.

Class 6A
1. Austin (21) (6-0) <ws>313
2. Oxford (5) (7-0) <ws>262
3. Pinson Valley (2) (6-0) <ws>228
4. Wetumpka (7-0) <ws>198
5. Spanish Fort (5-1) <ws>153
6. Homewood (6-0) <ws>143
7. Saraland (6-1) <ws>92
8. Sidney Lanier (7-0) <ws>89
9. Benjamin Russell (5-1) <ws>48
10. Clay-Chalkville (6-1) <ws>28
Others receiving votes: Muscle Shoals (5-1) 11, Park Crossing (6-1) 11, Ramsay (3-3) 8, Daphne (4-2) 5, Minor (3-3) 3, Jackson-Olin (5-1) 2, Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa (5-2) 1, Opelika (4-3) 1.

 

Class 5A
1. Briarwood Chr. (23) (6-0) <ws>321
2. St. Paul’s (5) (6-0) <ws>266
3. Carroll (6-0) <ws>223
4. Beauregard (4-1) <ws>196
5. Alexandria (6-1) <ws>152
6. Wenonah (5-1) <ws>115
7. Etowah (6-1)<ws>112
8. Mae Jemison-Huntsville (6-1) <ws>100
9. Demopolis  (5-1) <ws>64
10. Jackson (4-2) <ws>17
Others receiving votes:  Sylacauga (5-1) 11, Mortimer Jordan (4-2) 6, Brooks (3-2) 4, Eufaula (4-2) 3, Guntersville (5-1) 3, Citronelle (4-2) 2, Central-Clay Co. (4-2) 1.

Class 4A
1. Andalusia (21) (6-1) <ws>315
2. Rogers (7) (7-0) <ws>268
3. UMS-Wright (5-1) <ws>220
4. Leeds (6-1) <ws>181
5. Wilson (6-0) <ws>145
6. Thomasville (5-1) <ws>126
7. Fayette Co. (5-1) <ws>111
8. Hokes Bluff (5-1) <ws>62
9. Tallassee (6-1) <ws>49
10. Deshler (5-1) <ws>44
Others receiving votes: Saks (6-0) 37, Alabama Chr. (7-0) 21, Munford (5-1) 14, Madison Acad. (4-2) 2, Dora (5-1) 1.

Class 3A
1. Mobile Chr. (21) (6-0) <ws>314
2. Piedmont (7) (6-1) <ws>270
3. Gordo (5-1) <ws>221
4. Randolph Co. (5-1) <ws>181
5. Ohatchee (6-1) <ws>165
6. Wicksburg (6-0) <ws>125
7. Fultondale (6-0) <ws>110
8. Weaver (4-2) <ws>53
9. Plainview (5-1) <ws>44
10. Sylvania (6-0) <ws>35
Others receiving votes: Oakman (4-2) 22, American Chr. (5-1) 13, Hillcrest-Evergreen (5-1) 13, T.R. Miller (4-2) 12, Clarke Co. (4-2) 8, Montgomery Acad. (5-1) 5, West Morgan (6-1) 4, Lauderdale Co. (4-2) 1.

Class 2A
1. Fyffe (26) (6-0) <ws>330
2. Lanett (2) (7-0) <ws>256
3. Elba (5-1) <ws>218
4. LaFayette (5-1) <ws>197
5. Leroy (5-1) <ws>156
6. Goshen (5-1) <ws>130
7. Aliceville (4-2) <ws>104
8. Sulligent (5-1) <ws>68
9. St. Luke’s (4-1) <ws>53
10. Thorsby (5-0) <ws>47
Others receiving votes: Tarrant (5-1) 15, J.U. Blacksher (5-1) 14, Abbeville (5-1) 5, Sand Rock (4-2) 3

Class 1A
1. Maplesville (28) (5-0) <ws>336
2. Georgiana (7-0) <ws>241
3. Sweet Water (4-1) <ws>227
4. Pickens Co. (5-1) <ws>185
5. Isabella (6-0) <ws>158
6. Wadley (5-0) <ws>124
7. Lynn (7-0) <ws>113
8. Brantley (4-2) <ws>88
9. Houston Co. (6-1) <ws>50
10. Marengo (4-2) <ws>26
Others receiving votes: South Lamar (6-1) 23, Decatur Heritage (5-1) 9, Addison (5-2) 8, Notasulga (4-2) 5, Spring Garden (5-1) 2, Linden (3-3) 1.

AISA
1. Autauga Acad. (26) (7-0) <ws>330
2. Escambia Acad. (1) (8-0) <ws>253
3. Monroe Acad. (1) (8-0) <ws>229
4. Chambers Acad. (7-0) <ws>195
5. Bessemer Acad. (5-3) <ws>154
6. Tuscaloosa Acad. (5-1) <ws>136
7. Pike Liberal (6-2) <ws>109
8. Fort Dale Acad. (6-1) <ws>85
9. South Choctaw Acad.  (5-2) <ws>44
10. Macon-East (6-1) <ws>19
Others receiving votes: Patrician Acad. (5-2) 18, Lee-Scott (4-3) 11, Glenwood School (4-4) 6, Jackson Acad. (5-3) 6, Crenshaw Chr. (5-3) 1.