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Area high schools begin seasons

Lowndes and Wilcox Academies began their football seasons last week, but the rest of the area teams kick off their seasons this Friday.

The AHSAA begins its first slate of games statewide, and teams in the region are set to begin the 2008 campaign.

Francis Marion faces an early speed bump on the path to bouncing back from a disappointing 1-9 season in 2007 when it takes on Hale County.

Hale County went 7-3 last year and made the playoffs, losing 22-12 to Wickburg in the first round.

The X-factor on Friday will be new Francis Marion coach Javaris Jackson.

The 25-year-old takes over a program that has not made the playoffs since 2000. But last week’s 36-22 jamboree loss to Marengo County raised Jackson’s confidence in his team’s ability to run and pass.

“I’m pretty sure this team will make the playoffs — real sure,” said Jackson. “If we just play injury free, we’ll have a perfect opportunity to make the playoffs.”

The Rams will rely on quarterback Preston Melton — who passed for 75 yards and two touchdowns in the jamboree — and tailback Kendrick Woods to carry the team Friday.

The Rams play at Hale County in Moundville on Friday at 7 p.m.

Wilcox Academy (1-0) vs. Sparta ((1-0)

Wilcox Academy wants to build on last week’s 27-13 win over Sumter Academy en route to forgetting last season’s 1-9 record.

“Last Friday was very important,” said coach Chris Burford. “There were a lot of positives last week.”

The competition picks up this week, though.

Sparta crushed region opponent Escambia 35-0 last week. The only news from that game that bodes well for Wilcox fans is that Sparta won last year’s opener against East Memorial Christian 39-0 before stumbling through a 4-5 season.

What Burford saw on film didn’t instill confidence, though.

“They didn’t show any weaknesses. They run to both the weak and strong sides,” said Burford. “Maybe it’ll come down to whoever guesses right.”

The Wildcats plays host Sparta in Camden on Friday at 7 p.m.

R.C. Hatch (0-0) vs. Livingston (0-0)

R.C. Hatch begins 2008 hoping to build on last year’s reversed fortunes.

No, a 2-8 record is not great. But when it is the most wins in a season since 1991, it is impressive.

The Bobcats may have found the perfect team to enable a good start in 2008. Livingston went 0-10 in 2007.

Head coach Jammie Abraham is not overconfident, though.

“They have a lot of team speed and run to the football,” said Abraham. “They appear to be a good team.”

The Bobcats’ results in last week’s jamboree cloud this week’s picture. R.C. Hatch fell to Demopolis and Linden 20-0 and 28-0.

Abraham isn’t worried, as he believes all three of his quarterbacks look good. The team slowed little and everyone got playing time.