Our top two teams survived nail-biters to get wins to hold their spot while #3 Central-Clay County went down with a thud to Pleasant Grove to exit this week’s FNN POWER FIVE.


Be reminded the POWER FIVE is not a head-to-head comparison of these teams. For us, the POWER FIVE is about “Championship Potential” first and foremost. To come to each week’s POWER FIVE ranking, we review each team’s “potential” as it is viewed by us at that point in the season and compare it to “wins-losses”, ASWA rankings throughout the season, performance in big games, and ultimately post-season playoff performance.


Are we right? There’s no “true answer” because the POWER FIVE is in essence an opinion. Remember, only teams that are from our defined coverage area of Calhoun, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, Etowah, Randolph, St Clair (including Leeds area), and Talladega counties are considered.


Halfway through the regular season – the 2021 Post Week 5 FNN POWER FIVE!


1 – HANDLEY TIGERS


Handley trailed #2 Lanett most of the night. That was until 2020 FNN Player of the Year nominee Tae Meadows scored his third TD of the night on a 6-yard run with 5:29 left to lift Handley past Lanett at Wright Field in Roanoke. Meadows also scored on runs of 81 and 8 yards. He finished with 191 yards on 30 carries. Handley had 319 yards of total offense compared to 253 for Lanett. The Tigers return to region play this Friday when they host a very capable Jacksonville squad.


2 – PIEDMONT BULLDOGS


Many have said that this past Friday’s Piedmont come-from-behind 4th quarter win over Jacksonville was one of the greatest football games in Calhoun County history. The Bulldogs scored the game’s final 20 points, all in the fourth quarter, eventually winning 55-45. The win marked the third game in a row for unbeaten Piedmont to score 50 or more points. It was without a doubt a night of one big play after another for both teams. For the Bulldogs, it started with QB Jack Hayes who completed 16 of 25 for 197 yards and two touchdowns. He also for 156 yards on 23 carries with three touchdowns. Those stats earned #7 FNN’s HSC Player of the Week honors, which Hayes will receive Tuesday night during FNN’s Coaches Show from Struts Wings in Oxford. Hayes was far from the only Piedmont star of the night. Brayden Morgan, Austin Estes, and Omarion Foster all had standout moments. Morgan tallied 184-yards including a touchdown and a 70-yard run. Piedmont can pretty much wrap up another region title with a win this Friday at Ohatchee. The contest can be seen live on FNN as this Friday’s GAME OF THE WEEK with the COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF starting at 6:30 PM.


3 – ALEXANDRIA VALLEY CUBS


What didn’t Javais McGhee do this past Friday in Alexandria’s 38-14 rivalry win over a much improved Cleburne County. He passed for two touchdowns, caught seven passes for 100 yards, returned a kickoff for an 80-yard score, and closed out the night’s scoring with a 1-yard quarterback sneak. The game was much closer than the final score indicates. Alexandria led just 21-14 late in the third quarter with Cleburne County sitting at the Cubs’ 11-yard line after a Heflin interception. That’s when the play of the game happened. Cleburne County QB Kyler McGrinn ran around the left end, but Alexandria’s Connor Hall was waiting for him and stripped the ball loose. Antonio Ross grabbed the loose ball at the Alexandria 10 and raced 90 yards to the end zone. The turnover and return for a TD created a 14-point swing that changed the game’s momentum completely. Alexandria took over from there. The Valley Cubs return to region play on the road at winless Hayden this Friday.


4 – LEEDS GREEN WAVE


The unbeaten 6-0 Leeds Green Wave showed why they are one of the top teams in Class 5A in Alabama this past Friday with a convincing road win. The Green Wave scored touchdowns on their first four possessions to build a 27-0 advantage and never looked back. Leeds’ four first-half touchdowns came on Jarod Latta’s 15-yard pass to Devone Megginson, a 10-yard run by Rametrius Yelverton, Latta’s 17-yard pass to Brody Goodman, and Latta’s 33-yard pass to Josh Ruff. The Green Wave’s second-half points came on Yelverton’s 10-yard run and Jackson Arthur’s 25-yard field goal. On the night, Leeds QB Jarod Latta completed 15 of 20 passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Rametrius Yelverton rushed 18 times for 119 yards and two touchdowns. Leeds returns to region play with a key road matchup at Center Point this Friday. This is likely their last serious challenge before they travel to face Alexandria on October 22nd.


5 – SAKS WILDCATS


The Wildcats put together another nice night in taking down a quality Geraldine team 54-31 this past Friday at Jack Stewart Field. It was a headlines kind of night for Jalen McCants. He put up 171 total yards, including 108 yards on the ground. He scored four touchdowns, including a 46-yard TD that sealed the win with three minutes left in the game. Saks starting running back Rickey Garrett came up limping in the first half and didn’t see any extended time on the field in the second half. Birthday Boy and FNN Player of the Week (Week 4) Sean Parnell totaled 220 yards and three touchdowns. The senior QB ended the game as Saks’ leading rusher with 140 yards. Saks returns to region play this week by hosting Pleasant Valley.


FIRST TEAM OUT - SPRING GARDEN PANTHERS


The nod here has to go to the Spring Garden Panthers. Other than the loss to unbeaten Cleveland, the Panthers have been solid all season with wins over Cedar Bluff, West End Walnut Grove, Locust Fork, and Hokes Bluff. If they hope to get back into the region title conversation, they’ll need some help from Southeastern this Friday when they play Cleveland. Both teams are presently unbeaten in region play. Spring Garden plays Southeastern at home on October 22nd. Jason Howard has built a program that’s playing winning football year to year…and done it with a rise up to 2A the past two years. The Panthers have won 10+ games the last three seasons and went as deep in the playoffs as the third round since 2018. In this past Friday’s win over 3A Hokes Bluff, Senior quarterback Chaz Pope led the Panthers with 141 rushing yards on 15 carries, including a 61-yard touchdown run. He also completed 8-of-14 passing attempts for 95 yards. The Panthers will host Gaston this Friday night.


That’s it for the 2021 FNN POWER FIVE following Week 5 play. Remember, we create the poll for fun and conversation…so please don’t take it too seriously. You’re welcome to disagree with us in the comments, but please keep them kind and give legitimate reasons why you see things differently.