Oak Mountain 2018 football prediction

Published 10:46 am Wednesday, August 15, 2018

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

We’ll find out everything we need to know about the 2018 Oak Mountain Eagles within the first five weeks of the season.

After opening with Chelsea on Friday, Aug. 24, and taking a bye week during the second week of the season, the Eagles will play their first three region games of the year.

Those three teams? Hewitt-Trussville, Thompson and Hoover, all three of which are ranked in the top 5 in the 7A classification to start the year. Oh and the first two games against the Huskies and Warriors will be on the road.

After that, they’ll travel to one of the better Class 6A teams on Sept. 28 when they take on the Pelham Panthers, but after that, if this team is healthy look out.

They will be so battle tested through those first five games, that the second half of their schedule will feel so much easier, and all of their region games will be against teams they are going to battle against for a playoff spot with, making them the important games anyways.

Competing in the most difficult region in the state is never easy, as four teams from the eight-team region are ranked in the top 10 to start the year, but this is an Oak Mountain team that returns a strong cast and won its last two games to end the 2017 season to bring confidence into the new year.

Whoever wins the starting quarterback job will be one of the keys to Oak Mountain’s success this year. Senior returning athlete Luke Percer and freshman standout Evan Smith are battling at the position in fall practice.

Percer, a running back that ran for 570 yards and eight touchdowns while battling injuries last year, is a fantastic athlete, but the best case scenario is for Smith to come in and take control of the position so Percer can stay at running back.

If that happens, that would mean the Eagles have an extremely talented quarterback and one of the best running backs in the county, which would make this offense dynamic.

I know head coach Cris Bell has hinted at some different things this season, and while Oak Mountain traditionally runs an option style on offense, that makes it seem like they will spread the field more and throw a bit more out of the gun this year. For that reason, I tend to lean toward Smith playing QB and Percer playing RB. I could be completely wrong, which shows that Bell is doing a good job of hiding his strategy for this season.

Whether Percer returns to the running back position or not, Jonathan Bennett will get time at the position as a starter or the backup. Bennett played the last four weeks of last season and totaled 337 yards in that span, which shows he has great ability.

If the Eagles do decide to spread things out more this season, a big reason why will be 6-foot-4 wide receiver Trey Allen, who jumped a height of 6 feet, 11 inches at the state high jump competition.

He’s an athlete that Bell wants more involved in the offense this season after totaling 209 yards on just 16 catches last year. Noah Young and Zach Paisley will join him out wide, while Cole Thomas will handle the main slot position.

Another reason to be excited about this year’s offense is going to be the line that has a ton of height and size. Clay Collins, Russ Autry, Zach Brown, Tyler Martin, Alex Mathis, Alex Burns, Drew Padgett and Nathan Gordon will all interchange on the line and have Bell excited.

That height and size also carries over to the defensive line with at least three players standing at 6-foot-3 or taller. Zykeius Strong and Travis Thomasson will be two very strong seniors up front, while Jacob Payne and Jalen Thomas will also bring back experience to the position.

While Jackson Murphy will be gone from the linebacker unit, Jacob Fitzgerald and Zay Brown are back. Fitzgerald brings back 6.5 tackles for loss and 47 total tackles, while Brown, a stud athlete, brings back 33 tackles. Those two will be joined by Will Pfaffman and Nik Heino.

In the secondary, the Eagles will be replacing both Zach Nelson, who had a team-high four interceptions las tyar and Brett Cruce. They will, however, get back Dylan Hoye and Garrison Frisch, who combined for 100 tackles in the secondary last year.

Those two will be safeties, while Zane Nelson and Christian Hood will look to be lock-down corners.

Prediction: Last year, Oak Mountain lost three region games against Mountain Brook, Tuscaloosa County and Vestavia Hills by three points or less. This year, that won’t happen. As long as they stay healthy this year, the Eagles will compete with Spain Park for the fourth and final playoff spot in the region. They are definitely better than Tuscaloosa County and my belief is this year’s squad can also handle Vestavia Hills and Mountain Brook, both of whom come to Heardmont Park. My prediction is 6-4 with the Spain Park game determining a playoff spot.