Week 9 predictions: Getting ready for an action-packed Friday

Published 2:12 pm Tuesday, October 16, 2018

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

Week 8 record: 9-1

Overall record: 45-15

It seems that there is never a dull week of high school football in Shelby County and while we are nearing the end of the 2018 regular season with just three games left for most teams, we are being treated to some can’t-miss matchups.

That is no different during Week 9 as we have an action-packed slate of region games, and two matchups featuring top-10 battles, both of which are our Games of the Week. Below we not only break down both of those games, but every AHSAA game across the county.

Thompson at Mountain Brook (Game of the Week 1)

This game was already big, but with Mountain Brook’s upset of No. 2 Hewitt-Trussville a week ago, the Spartans all of a sudden sit atop the Class 7A, Region 3 standings with a perfect 7-0 (5-0) record. Thompson is now in a tie for second with both Hewitt and Hoover at 4-1 in region play, making this game huge for the top 2 spots in the region.

I said a week ago this would be a tougher game than many may expect because of Mountain Brook’s defense and now it looks like the Spartans could even be the favorite. While the offense is only scoring 28.6 points per game, the Spartans’ defense is giving up just 8.4 points per game. Mountain Brook’s defense versus Thompson’s offense will be the thing to watch this week. The Warriors narrowly slipped past Vestavia Hills 21-20 last week against a solid Rebels’ defense, and I think that close game will actually help them be more focused and ready this week. Thompson 28, Mountain Brook 21

Briarwood at Ramsay (Game of the Week 2)

This game has been circled on the calendar since Ramsay moved down from Class 6A and into Briarwood’s region in the 5A classification last winter. The Rams won the 6A state championship two years ago and made it to the second round of the postseason last year before falling to the eventual state champions.

Now both teams sit with one loss on their schedule outside of region play, putting them in a tie for first at 5-0 in the region. With neither of the region games the week after having an implication on the region title, this week will determine the 2018 region champion.

With both defenses giving up less than 10 points per game and both offenses scoring less than 28 points per game, this should be one of those physical defensive battles. With that being said, I think Briarwood’s offense has progressed tremendously since the start of the season with Jonah Carroll taking over at quarterback. Briarwood 20, Ramsay 17

Oak Mountain vs. Spain Park

Both of these teams come into this rivalry matchup looking to stop the bleeding of a six-game losing streak. The Jaguars and Eagles each started the year 1-0, but now sit at 1-6 overall after those difficult few weeks. It’s already a heated matchup that both want to win, which will make them forget about the six-game losing streak. It’s a game Oak Mountain won 29-3 last year in shocking fashion.

This season, both are struggling, specifically on the offensive side of the ball over the last few weeks. Spain Park hasn’t scored more than 24 this season, has scored 14 or less in five of seven, including the last four in a row, and have scored just seven in their last two. Oak Mountain has scored just seven combined in its last two games and has trended down on offense in recent weeks after a strong start. Due to home-field advantage and a slightly better offense, I’ll go with the Eagles. Oak Mountain 24, Spain Park 17

Helena vs. Jackson-Olin 

After a slow 0-4 start to the season, first-year head coach Richie Busby is making a splash with the Helena Huskies, who have now won three in a row with solid defensive play. This week, the Huskies get an undefeated and region-leading Jackson-Olin team that doesn’t light up the scoreboard every week, but is playing lights out this season. Helena’s defense will keep this one close, but in the end, the Mustangs will remain unbeaten. Helena 10, Jackson-Olin 24

Pelham vs. Northridge

Inconsistency has been Pelham’s only kryptonite this season. Following a three-game win streak, the Panthers dropped a difficult 40-28 game to Jackson-Olin that they easily could have won. Despite playing less than perfect, Pelham still almost pulled off the victory, which shows how good they can be if they are clicking. It’s hard to tell which Pelham team you’ll get each week, but I have faith in an angry team ready to bounce back this Friday. Running back Dylan Peterson’s health could be a factor. Pelham 35, Northridge 28 

Chelsea vs. Minor 

Could this be the week Chelsea picks up win No. 1 under Dustin Goodwin. The Hornets will have a decent chance against 2-5 Minor on Friday night, who like Chelsea, is struggling to score points. The Hornets are currently averaging 15.6 points per game, while the Tigers are scoring 16.4 points per game. Minor’s defense is slightly better and the Tigers are coming off a bye week. Due to that and Minor’s wins coming against Helena and Pelham, both better than Chelsea at the moment, I’ll take the Tigers in a tight one. 

Calera vs. Benjamin Russell

This may be Calera’s best chance at an upset this season, if you can call it that. Benjamin Russell is 4-4 on the season and 1-3 in region play, while the Eagles are 1-6 overall and 1-3 in region play. With this being each team’s last region game of the season, and the two sitting in a tie for fourth, a playoff spot is on the line. Calera is progressing and looking better and better each week with Cornelius Brown finally looking healthy and the team starting to play together. It’s hard to pick the upset, but don’t be shocked if it happens. Calera 21, Benjamin Russell 27

Shelby County vs. Central-Tuscaloosa

This is the season for Shelby County. It all comes down to Friday night with a playoff spot on the line. Win and the Wildcats will have a chance to beat Jemison in the final game of the season for a spot in the postseason, but lose and Central-Tuscaloosa locks up a spot in the playoffs with Shelby County and Jemison both out of it. Both teams are scoring right around 20 points per game, while the Wildcats’ defense seems to hold a slight edge giving up 25.3 points per game compared to the Falcons’ 31.4 points per game. Go big, or go home, I’m taking the Wildcats. Shelby County 28, Central-Tuscaloosa 21

Montevallo at Sipsey Valley

Sitting at 6-1 Montevallo has won two in a row since its lone loss of the season to American Christian. This game has major seeding implications for the playoffs with both teams currently sharing second place in the region at 3-1. The offenses aren’t even close with the Bulldogs scoring 43.4 points per game, while Sipsey Valley is scoring just18.3 points per game. On paper, this one should be a win for Montevallo, it’s just up to the team to pull it off. Montevallo 35, Sipsey Valley 24

Vincent vs. Reeltown

The first four games of the season didn’t go Vincent’s way, but the last three have been exactly what first-year head coach Lucas Weatherford wanted to see. After scoring just 46 points through the first four games, the Yellow Jackets have scored 113 in the last three games. The defense has also gone from giving up 192 points in the first four to a combined 22 points in the last three. This week, they’ll get an extremely difficult test in top-10 and 7-1 Reeltown, but a loss won’t take away from this team not quitting on the season. Vincent 14, Reeltown 35