Three teams on to Round Two
Last week, I mentioned that we’ve got all four teams in the playoffs for the first time since 1996.
Now the number has been whittled down to three, and Butler County hasn’t had three teams make the second round of the playoffs since 1993, when Greenville, Fort Dale and Georgiana made it that far.
This is also a week of rematches, so let’s get started with Greenville and Demopolis.
Greenville vs Demopolis
These two teams have quite a bit of recent history.
Last year, Demopolis beat Greenville 48-41 to send the Tigers on the road in the playoffs.
Not even a month ago, Greenville topped Demopolis 28-7 to clinch the region title.
Now the two teams are set to go after each other yet again this Friday night.
Greenville is in the unenviable position of trying to beat a good football team twice in the same season.
“We know that they’re going to come in ready,” said head coach Ben Blackmon. “I think they feel like we out-physicaled them last time, so we’ve got to match their intensity.”
The Tigers have been playing musical chairs at quarterback over the last several weeks with regular-season starter Ryan Smith being out with an enlarged spleen and a knee injury to Kent Riley forcing wide receiver and third-string quarterback Michael Watts into action against Hillcrest.
Riley fought through the injury to have a career night against Moody last week.
“We knew the Kent had that ability, and I’m just happy to see a good showing from a freshman,” Blackmon said.
Smith’s status is still uncertain – he’ll have another ultrasound later in the week to see if his spleen is still swollen.
“If he’s not better, he won’t play,” Blackmon said.
Blackmon also said he’d like to encourage Greenville fans to show up to the game wearing black.
“Wear black, get there early and be loud,” he said.
While I wasn’t able to watch the first matchup between these two teams, it seemed that Greenville didn’t have a whole lot of trouble with Demopolis.
This week will certainly be different.
Riley showed last week that he can lead this team effectively, and the Tigers will need that this Friday.
Greenville 21, Demopolis 13
Fort Dale vs Bessemer
Fort Dale has a rematch of their own this Friday against Bessemer Academy – the two teams met in the semi-finals last year.
The Eagles are also only a step away from a return to the state championship game in Troy.
“If we don’t win this game, there won’t be a state championship game,” said head coach Speed Sampley, who was keeping things in perspective.
The Rebels come into the game 9-3 on the season, and those three losses came in a row during the month of October.
“Their best running back was out for those games, but he’s back and that makes a big difference,” Sampley said. “They’ve also got some pretty impressive receivers — they’re tall, they get downfield and they throw the ball pretty well to them.”
In addition to a talented group of skill players, the Rebels also feature an offensive line that will be one of the largest FDA has faced all year.
Besides facing Bessemer, the Eagles are also dealing with some injuries sustained during a very physical first-round game against Prattville Christian.
“We’ve got several players dinged up, and we’re preparing to play with or without them,” Sampley said.
Prattville Christian put up a pretty good fight last week, and FDA can expect more of the same this week against Bessemer.
Undoubtedly the Rebels will have last year’s beatdown in mind when they come to Winfred E. Boan Field.
The Eagles’ offensive and defensive lines are athletic, so I figure they will give Bessemer’s guys trouble in the trenches.
I’m looking for the Eagles to prepare for a return trip to Troy.
FDA 28, Bessemer 17
McKenzie at Sweet Water
McKenzie has their work cut out for them this Friday night over in Marengo County.
The Bulldogs have won four of the last five state championships, and the road to Tuscaloosa runs through them for any 1A team in the south.
“They are a well-coached, well-disciplined football team that has been running their system for a long time, and they believe in it,” head coach Miles Brown said.
Sweet Water’s only loss this year came against Thomasville, one of the top teams in 4A, but comparing wins and losses doesn’t do much good, and I’ll tell you why in a moment.
The Bulldogs blasted Providence Christian in the first round 70-0, and McKenzie only beat PCA 27-6.
However, the Tigers blew out Fruitdale 52-7 in the first round.
Fruitdale fell to Sweet Water 8-0 in late September, which is the closest a 1A team has played the Bulldogs since Brantley beat them in the second round of the playoffs in 2005.
One thing is for sure: both sides have athletes, and if anyone can match the speed of Sweet Water, it’s McKenzie.
While there is certainly a chance that McKenzie will shock the world, I just can’t pick against Sweet Water, especially when you consider the dominance they’ve shown over nearly everyone in 1A for the better part of the last decade.
Sweet Water 56, McKenzie 30
Overall record: 35-7