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PRESTRIDGES PICKS: Playoffs are finally upon us

Crenshaw County's three-week winning streak ended last week.

But considering two county teams played each other, it was a no brainer that the streak wouldn't last.

The biggest game of the week was the cross-county rival game between Luverne and Brantley. Thousands of fans flocked to Brantley to witness the much-anticipated contest, which proved to be another exciting game.

The Class 1A, third-ranked Bulldogs (10-0, 7-0) completed their second consecutive perfect season by narrowly escaping the Class 2A, eighth-ranked Tigers (8-2, 7-0) 14-10.

The Tigers took it to the Bulldogs as they chalked up 270 total yards and held the home team's potent offense to a mere 144 total yards, but turnovers proved to be the deciding factor in the match up. Luverne fumbled the pigskin three times and lost possession all three times and also threw two interceptions. Brantley, on the other hand, only fumbled once and threw one interception.

That proved to be the difference.

Both teams are very talented and should go a long way in the playoffs.

Crenshaw Christian Academy picked up its seventh win of the season with a 33-0 shutout win over Dixie Academy last Friday at home.

The Cougars (7-3) have shown a lot of improvement the second half of the season and are making their presence known throughout the state.

Highland Home suffered a 35-21 loss to Montgomery Academy last Friday night to drop to 4-6 overall this season. With four region wins the Flying Squadron buzzed into the playoffs and will continue play this week.

This prognosticator's record fell to 31-6 or 84 percent after finishing 2-1 this week.

The high school football season throughout the state will enter the first round of the playoffs this Friday night. For the players, it's the first step on the road to the state championships in Birmingham. For the fans, it's just an added bonus.

Fortunately for Crenshaw County football fans, every team in the county earned the right to advance into round one of the state playoffs.

Luverne and Brantley will play host to their opponents, while Crenshaw Christian and Highland Home will hit the road as guests. Every game should be exciting and be worth seeing.

Luverne will host long-time rival Georgiana (5-5), which slipped into the playoffs a couple of weeks ago, in the Alabama High School Athletic Association's Class 2A state playoffs this week. The Panthers claimed a win over Class 1A St. Jude last week.

The eighth-ranked Tigers have continued to get better and better all season and are running like a well-oiled machine. Their exceptional play on the field should be credited to discipline and superb coaching.

As for the Panthers, they know they're fortunate to be in the playoffs and will pull out all the stops to continue their season. Expect a lot of intensity on both sides of the ball and the coaching staff to pull some

tricks out of their hats.

A big crowd is expected and fans should definitely get their moneys worth. It's been a long time since these two teams have met and fans are surely not going to miss this opportunity.

Both Luverne and Georgiana have stellar running backs, but the Tigers have the edge in the passing game. Defensively, Luverne has proven to be stronger as well.

The Tigers will have to utilize their ability to pass and mix in some trickery of their own, but most definitely will have to prevent turnovers, which did them in last week. The Panthers will have to force turnovers and capitalize, all while keeping Luverne's fast receivers hemmed in.

Turnovers could be the difference.

Prestridge's Pick: Luverne.

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Brantley will host A.L. Johnson tomorrow night in the first round.

The Bulldogs have dominated most of their opponents this year, but Ariton and Luverne did give them trouble the final two weeks of the regular season. If they want to continue in the playoffs, they will have to remain focused and execute every play near perfect.

This week, the Eagles (7-3) will come to town and attempt to ruin Brantley's perfect season. They've had a good season so far with one of their loses coming to American Christian (10-0), which knocked off Brantley by one point in the quarterfinals last season.

The Bulldogs, which have been dealing with several injuries to key players on both sides of the ball, will have to step up their running game this week if they want to build an early, comfortable lead and claim a win. Running the ball has been Brantley's forte this season and it should stick to it.

Defensively, Brantley will have to cause turnovers and prevent A.L. Johnson from scoring and building any momentum. The longer the Eagles stay out of the end zone, the better.

Capitalizing on turnovers will be key as well.

Prestridge's Pick: Brantley.

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Highland Home will travel to take on powerhouse Southern Choctaw Friday night.

The Squadron has struggled this season and will have trouble knocking off the Indians (8-2). They will have to play their best game of the season if they plan on advancing.

Last week, turnovers took a toll on Highland Home, as they tried to upset Montgomery Academy. This week, turnovers could end their season.

The Squadron will have to play with a lot of intensity and enthusiasm, hold on to the football, play smart and prevent big plays on defense. They will have to play perfect in all phases of the game.

Prestridge's Pick: Southern Choctaw.

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Crenshaw Christian will travel to take on ninth-ranked Shelby Academy tomorrow night in the first round of the Alabama Independent School Association's Class A state playoffs. The Rebels (9-1) have suffered only one loss this season to a powerful Southern team.

The Cougars are very capable of knocking off Shelby, but the ball is going to have to bounce their way. They can't make any mistakes and will have to force the Rebels to make several mistakes.

CCA has improved throughout the season and that gradual improvement will have to continue this week. The coaches need to add some plays that will catch Shelby's defense off guard and guarantee big yards or better yet, a score.

Mixing up their play selection and running the clock out will be key for the Cougars.

Prestridge's Pick: Shelby.

Adam Prestridge is editor of

The Luverne Journal. He can be reached at 334-335-3541 or by e-mail: adam.prestridge@luverne journal.com