The Calhoun County Quarterback Club is to be commended for doing an outstanding job in putting on the County's first-ever high school football media day. Here are our takeaways from it on each team.
Saks - The Wildcats might be missing some pieces, but with Torres back at QB, they'll be a dangerous team. Better catch them early. They'll likely get better as the season progresses. Coach Miller will call plays this season with long-time OC Easley now wearing Munford red. That should be interesting.
Oxford - New coach Keith Etheredge likes what he sees, and he knows what a championship team looks like. He confessed to us that the offence has to score more points to support a solid defence. For the Jackets to be in the hunt for the 6A title, Etheredge knows they've got to find a way to beat Clay-Chalkville and Pinson Valley....maybe more than once. This could be Oxford's year. It wouldn't surprise us as all to see the black and gold in Tuscaloosa for the 6A Super 7.
Weaver - New coach Justin Taylor was impressive at the podium. He seems to have a plan and is working it. Weaver is always blessed with solid athletes. However, the Bearcats play in the toughest region in 3A. It will be interesting to watch this team. There's no room for any stumbles in the region schedule. They'll need to find wins over either Pleasant Valley or Walter Wellborn, two region foes they face back-to-back in September if they hope to be around in November.
Alexandria - The Valley Cubs are still searching for the right guy to step up to take over the Quarterback position. Three players are still in the mix going into fall practice. Coach Ginn, in his second season, says the team will have more overall speed, and he likes that. He seems to think the Cubs will be better than some are projecting. We think they can once again make the post-season. An exceptional year could land them as high as second in 5A-Region 6.
Pleasant Valley - Most of us are pointing at this being the year the Raiders make the postseason. Unfortunately, they'll have to get there out of 3A-Region 6, where there's just no room for a bad night. They get Piedmont, Saks and Wellborn at home, and if they hope to make it into November, they're likely going to have to win at least one of those three games. We like the coach speak from Jonathan Nix, who has this program headed in the right direction. PVHS is certainly a playoff quality team in most 3A regions, but playing in R6 just might be their nemesis.
Anniston - Of all the teams we saw at Media Days, this is the one that has us scratching our head the most over. Where do the Bulldogs fit into the 4A-R6 scheme of things? We know Jacksonville, Hokes Bluff and Oneonta are in the mix. We don't know what to expect from Cherokee County, Cleburne County and White Plains (all with new coaches) and then there's Anniston. Lots of athletic ability. Pretty solid on defence....question is offence...can they score enough points? Bottom line - NO CLUE!
Walter Wellborn - Coach Jeff Smith had a little of his swagger back for Media Day, and why not. Every starter off last year's squad returns. The Panthers had a solid spring game pretty much owning Cedar Bluff. Size upfront might be an issue late in tight games, but make no mistake, the Panthers are back in the mix for 2019. Of course, they play in 3A-Region 6, so every game is a "must-win". Key game early at Saks on 9/13. They get Randolph County and Piedmont at "The Hill" late in October...and those two games bookend what we see as the real "trap game" on Wellborn's schedule, a trip to Pleasant Valley on 10/18. It's easy to see Wellborn playing Piedmont for the 3A-R6 crown on FNN on 10/25...but it's just as easy seeing a few stumbles with their schedule that could leave them just missing the playoffs.
Donoho - The Falcons will be a force in 1A-Region 5. Can they stand up to Spring Garden and snatch away the region crown? We'll find out when the two face off at Donoho on 9/20 in a key region game you'll see live on FNN. We see the Garden as the region's clear-cut favourite once again this fall, but Donoho has a real chance to finish second and host a playoff game in November. Key in that is their 9/13 game hosting Winterboro, another region contender. Mark Sanders returns a pretty solid nucleus and has one of the county's top players in junior RB Rod Elston. We look for Donoho to finish 2nd or 3rd and once again be around for a week or two in November.
Jacksonville - Clint Smith held his cards close on Friday. He seems confident in where his team is, but at the same time, maybe still questions how they'll respond to the loss of players from upfront that lifted the Golden Eagles to their first unbeaten regular season in school history. Jacksonville has plenty of talent at the skill positions, featuring 2018 FNN Player of the Year, senior RB Ron Wiggins. We see no reason why the 'Ville won't compete with Hokes Bluff and Oneonta for the region title and we're pretty confident the first round of the 4A playoffs will begin with a game from Golden Eagles Stadium.
Ohatchee - Scott Martin's Tribe enters 2019 with unfinished business that involves the defending 2A state champions from Fyffe. It's hard to talk about the regular season ahead when all we really want to speculate about is Ohatchee-Fyffe II in November. It almost seems inevitable - but sports has a way of messing things like that up. The QB spot is still a question, and it's a terribly important position in Martin's run-99%-of-the-time offence. Ohatchee has one of the area's top players in senior RB Dominique Thomas. The Indians will have a tough test at Ranburne on 10/18 and a potentially unbeaten season wrecker at Pleasant Valley on 11/1, but in the end, we think you better get ready to see Ohatchee-Fyffe II in the playoffs. If it happens, we plan on being there!
Piedmont - Steve Smith demonstrated on Friday why he's one of Alabama's most successful high school football coaches. Polished and in control with confident answers to every question about his Piedmont Bulldogs. Piedmont enters 2019 with a Sophmore QB and plenty of holes to fill following graduation, but as we like to say, "To Be The Man, You Gotta Beat The Man" and until someone proves otherwise, we see the Bulldogs as the team to beat. They'll have to overcome serious road challenges at Pleasant Valley, Saks and Wellborn and prevail at home early over Randolph County if they intend on entering the playoffs as 3A-R6 champs once again. But to quote Piedmont senior DE Bryson Ingram from Media Day, "We expect to hoist a blue map." It might not happen this season, but expect Piedmont to have something to say about who does.
White Plains - Not 24 hours on the job, new Wildcats head coach Chandler Tyree brought the energy to his first meeting with the area's media. Flanked by two senior standouts, Tyree talked about working hard, spending a lot of time with his and winning football games. He's still putting the pieces together on a program that's been through two pretty tough weeks. White Plains has a coach. Let's give him a chance and see what happens.
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