Schedule Breakdown: Oak Mountain enters familiar schedule with new coach

Published 5:38 pm Friday, August 4, 2023

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

The Oak Mountain Eagles are entering a new era with head coach Shane McComb starting his first season, but it will be a path that everyone but he will know well at Oak Mountain.

That path through the regular season schedule includes some of the toughest teams in the state in Thompson, Hoover and Hewitt-Trussville, but it also includes plenty of local rivals they will be hungry to beat, including Spain Park, Briarwood and Chelsea.

First, the Eagles will travel to Tuscaloosa to take on Northridge on Aug. 25. Oak Mountain took last year’s meeting at home, 23-14, and they will look to start out Shane McComb’s Eagles career out with a win in his first game in charge.

Then, Oak Mountain will stay on the road and visit county rival Pelham on Sept. 1. The Eagles won a close contest last year with a 21-17 win over the Panthers, but Pelham will carry in momentum from last season after reaching the playoffs. Oak Mountain still has a classification advantage over Pelham, but any kind of advantages or preconceived notions go out the window in rivalry games, so this game could be another toss-up this year that the Eagles could win again.

Afterwards, Oak Mountain will have their home opener on Sept. 8 against Hewitt-Trussville. The Eagles struggled to figure out how to contain the Huskies offense last year in Trussville, but they did manage to hang a couple of touchdowns on Hewitt’s defense, which is a good sign for things to come this year if they can find ways to score and hold the Huskies on defense.

Then, Oak Mountain will travel down the road to Chelsea to face the Hornets on Sept. 15. Chelsea’s win over the Eagles last year was their lone win of the season, and Oak Mountain players likely will vividly remember the celebrations at Heardmont Park that night. They should come out firing and hungry for a win, even more than in previous editions of this rivalry.

After that, the Eagles will face Tuscaloosa County on Sept. 22. Last year’s contest was a great battle, and Oak Mountain will enter their matchup at home liking their chances after only losing by three in Northport last year. They’ll need a solid night on both sides of the ball to do so, but this is definitely a chance to get a win as both sides hit the halfway mark in the season.

Then, it’s another chapter in the closest rivalry in the area, as Oak Mountain will take on Briarwood on Sept. 29. This year’s matchup will be at Lions Pride Stadium, but seeing as you could throw a stone between the two schools, expect both sets of fans to show up and create an incredible atmosphere. On the field, it’s all about containing Briarwood’s offense while maximizing chances when the Eagles have the ball. This should be a great matchup between two teams who know each other well.

Once the calendar flips to October, Oak Mountain will make the trip down to the Met to face Hoover on Oct. 6. Hoover’s regional dominance is well known, but these matchups are still a great chance for Oak Mountain to make a statement against a top team.

The next week, Oak Mountain will have an even tougher test when Thompson visits on Oct. 13. Like the Hoover game, this matchup will be a great chance to surprise the region with a competitive game, even though recent history suggests that this will be challenging for Shane McComb’s team.

Afterwards, Oak Mountain will travel to Vestavia Hills on Oct. 20. Vestavia was the fourth place team in the region a year ago, and in a region with such a dominant top three like Thompson, Hoover and Hewitt-Trussville have been, that will put a target on Vestavia’s back as the team that everyone is chasing. That includes Oak Mountain, and this late season matchup has a chance in determining who will walk away with that final playoff spot in the region.

Finally, the Eagles will take on one of their closest rivals in Spain Park on Oct. 27. Both teams will look to this matchup as a chance to walk away with a win, especially because the sides finished tied in the regional standings last year. Given the improvements on both sides of the ball, it’s highly unlikely that we see another low-scoring battle like last year, but this should still be an intriguing battle between the local rivals as always, especially if there are playoff stakes attached.

Oak Mountain will once again take their bye week in the final week of the season, and they hope to be in a position to use that week as a rest week before a playoff push.