(October 11, 2017)
It’s not quite gut check time… at least for most of the teams in the River Region.
But a few have key regional contests while others are heading into the two biggest weeks of the season.
Start with the Robert E. Lee Generals, who are back in the same spot as last year (prior to the forfeits) with a chance to all but secure a home date in the first round of the playoffs regardless of what happens next week. In the way is what has become a big nemesis in Auburn, which is in the same boat - a win means a home game to open the playoffs.
Alabama Christian has a perfect record (7-0) but will face arch-rival St. James without starting quarterback Reece Solar. It was a huge test already for the Eagles but can they overcome the adversity?
Despite a bad record at 1-6, G.W. Carver can move closer to a playoff bid with a win over Stanhope Elmore this week. Ditto for the Mustangs who opened the season losing the first three games but have since won three straight.
A few teams such as Park Crossing and Wetumpka have a warm up prior to huge games next week.
R.E. Lee at Auburn
What: Class 7A Region 2 game
When: Friday at Duck-Sanford Stadium
2017 Records: Lee 5-1 (3-0); Auburn 5-1 (2-1)
Last week: Lee def. Jeff Davis, 42-19; Auburn did not play
Last year’s meeting: Auburn, 40-32
Series record: Auburn leads, 9-2
Keys: Lee has lost nine straight meetings with Auburn.
Outlook: For whatever reason, Lee cannot solve the Auburn High School Tigers. Since 2001 when the Generals lost to the Tigers in the second round of the playoffs, the strength or weakness of either team has not made much a difference in the outcome. While Lee has been down for the most part of the 16 years, Auburn has still found a way to win this matchup, even when Lee was considered the favorite. Is there anything that makes this season any different? Probably not. If it matters, every game during the streak has been played in either October or November, which could signal a lack of depth for the Generals (injuries) or that Auburn peaks at the end of the season (at least Lee seems healthy this week). Whatever the case, this meeting is set up much like the last year. A win for either team all but secures a first-round home game in the playoffs. Last year, under the same circumstances (and just prior to learning they would have to forfeit all wins), the Generals fell behind early and were unable to catch Auburn in an eight point loss. This year, Auburn is considered the favorite and has another solid running game that will be difficult to subdue. It’s hard to pick against a trend. Tigers continue the streak.
Preddiction: Auburn 31, Lee 27
Stanhope Elmore at G.W. Carver
What: Class 6A Region 2 game
When: Friday at Cramton Bowl
2017 Records: Carver 1-6 (1-2); Stanhope 3-3 (2-1)
Last week: Park Crossing def. Carver, 39-14; Stanhope def. Russell Co., 21-13
Last year’s meeting: Carver, 40-33
Series record: Carver leads, 7-5
Keys: The Carver defense has given up 240-plus yards passing in each of the past two games. Stanhope has not won four straight games since the end of the 2014 season.
Outlook: Ignore the records for a moment. Suddenly, the idea of one of these teams making the playoffs has merit. In fact, it’s very possible both will be in the post season. This region is pathetic at the bottom while the teams on top are very good. Carver or Stanhope have a chance to all but cement a spot with a win. The other still has a shot as the 4 seed. Both teams are struggling with offense. Carver has endured several key injuries in the last few weeks. Stanhope seems to be on a roll and could win a close one. But the Wolverines are a little better and are at home.
Preddiction: Carver 20, Stanhope 17
Alabama Christian at St. James
What: Class 4A Region 2 game
When: Friday at Knights Field
2017 Records: ACA 7-0 (4-0); St. James 4-3 (2-1)
Last week: ACA def. Ashford, 35-10; STJ def Bullock Co., 56-12
Last year’s meeting: STJ, 28-16
Series record: STJ leads, 27-11
Key stat: Alden Stroud had 226 yards rushing in ACA’s win last week. STJ’s Tony Amerson scored 4 TDs for the first time in his career against Bullock County.
Outlook: So it begins for Alabama Christian - the three-game stretch that will basically decide whether or not the Eagles win their first region title under the new format or if they find themselves traveling in the first round of the playoffs. At the moment, ACA is the lone team without a region loss. St. James and Montgomery Catholic each have a loss but the Knights hold the tiebreaker between the two. That fact alone makes this game more important for the Trojans. ACA has been the most consistent team in the region and while the defense gives up its share of points, the offense has not been stopped by any one - yet. But how will that play with QB Reece Solar out with an injury? This will also be the best defense they have faced. St. James has been inconsistent offensively against the better teams on its schedule. That sets up the contrast that fooball fans love. The Eagles may be inspired with the loss of a key player but St. James still has too much and wins a close one.
Preddiction: St. James 24, ACA 21
Also this week…
Park Crossing at Dothan: With Lanier looming, is this a trap game? Nope. T’Birds win easily. PCHS, 41-10.
Helena at Wetumpka: The warmup before the big finish. Indians, 38-16..
Elmore Co at Dadeville: Panthers in need of a big win. They get by a hair…Elmore Co, 21-20.
Autaugaville at Ellwood Christian (Thur.): Eagles best chance for a win this season. It would be easier if it was at home. Autaugaville, 19-15.
Coosa Valley at Evangel Christian: Lions get their first win of the season… Evangel, 14-13.
Pike Liberal at Hooper Aca.: A win keeps the Colts’ playoff chances alive. Nothing like pressure to help a team play better… Hooper, 30-27.
Other games: Central-Phenix City over Jeff Davis, 31-13; Marbury over Dallas Co., 23-17; Montgomery Academy over Southside-Selma, 40-6; Pike Co over Prattville Christian, 34-20; Montgomery Catholic over Ashford, 45-14; Trinity over Bullock Co., 29-16; Tallassee over Holtville, 30-12; Billingsley over R.C. Hatch, 20-14; Autauga Aca over Clarke Prep, 45-10; Tuscaloosa Aca over Edgewood, 35-12; Patrician over Lowndes Ac., 29-13; Macon East over Cornerstone, 35-30.
OPEN DATE: Prattville, Sidney Lanier
Last week: 20-2 Season: 116-20 (.853)