Prep football preview

Published 10:31 pm Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Keith and Francis Marion enter their contest on Friday at opposite ends of the spectrum.

With a 50-6 win over R.C. Hatch last week, the Bears (6-2) clinched their first playoff spot since 1997 and can improve to a 3-seed with a win over the Rams.

“We let them know that’s a goal we set, but we’ve got to finish the business at hand,” said Keith coach Harry Crum. “It’s kind of hard to keep young people focused. We do what we can to minimize the head swelling.”

Francis Marion coach Javaris Jackson felt certain his team would make the playoffs at the beginning of the season. But the Rams (1-7) fell on hard times, and a 20-14 loss to Zion Chapel snuffed out the team’s slim playoff hopes.

“I don’t think it killed the guys’ morale. The guys still want to play and compete,” said Jackson. “A lot of my guys are young guys, and they see the potential they’re going to have for next year.”

This is the first meeting between the two teams since 1999 — a contest Francis Marion won 30-14.

The Bears and Rams kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday in Marion.

Dallas County (3-5) vs. Livingston (2-6)

Dallas County’s 26-0 win over Southside last week served as a shot in the arm.

“We’re glad to get wins around here,” said Dallas County coach John Higgins. “We’ve been working hard, and these kids are starting to feel some of the rewards of their hard work.”

With two games remaining, the Hornets are on the threshold of an accomplishment that has been foreign to them since 2004 — a .500 record.

“It’s been a long time since that’s happened, and these seniors would like to be the first class to do it,” said Higgins.

Like the Hornets, the Cougars haven’t had much success this season and suffered another setback in a 49-6 loss to Calera last week.

The Hornets and Cougars kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday in Livingston.

Maplesville (6-1) vs. Holy Spirit (6-2)

Maplesville clinched a playoff spot with a 48-0 win over A.L. Johnson last week.

Now they turn their focus to Holy Spirit and a chance to earn the No. 2 seed and home field advantage for the first two rounds.

But the Red Devils’ opponent will be a little more stubborn this week.

“I think it’s a very even match,” said Maplesville coach Brent Hubbert. “I think both of us do the same things on both sides of the ball.”

The Red Devils and Titans kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday in Tuscaloosa.

Morgan (3-5) vs. Prattville (0-9)

After clinching a playoff spot with a 37-12 homecoming win over EMCA, the Senators have a chance to further boost their confidence against a winless Prattville Christian team.

“It’s one of those situations where we’ve got to prepare for them, but we’re starting to look at some things we’re going to try to do in the coming weeks as well,” said Morgan coach Robert Gartman. “I think it’ll be a competitive game. Our depth should make a difference in the second half.”

The Panthers, who are in their third year of organized football, fell to Kingwood 28-14 last week. A loss to Morgan will ensure the lowest win total in the program’s brief history.

It has been a tough season a Senator team that entered with high expectations. But clinching a playoff spot can cure several ills.

“It built morale, primarily with everybody getting playing time,” said Gartman. “I think the biggest thing is the kids got to enjoy themselves for once.”

The Senators and Panthers kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday in Prattville.

R.C. Hatch (3-5) vs. Reeltown (7-1)

If R.C. Hatch intends to finish with its first .500 season in more than 15 years, the Bobcats will have to get hot against a tough Reeltown team on Friday.

After a promising 3-1 start, the Bobcats have dropped four straight, including a 50-6 setback against Keith last week.

Meanwhile, the Rebels have reeled off seven straight wins after an opening loss to Dadeville.

“Reeltown is going to be a tough fight, but anything can happen on a Friday night,” said R.C. Hatch coach Jammie Abraham. “We’re going in with a mindset to upset. We don’t lay down for nobody.”

The Bobcats and Rebels kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday in Uniontown.

Lowndes Academy (7-2) vs. Springwood (4-5)

On the heels of its disappointing season last year, Lowndes has rebounded in convincing fashion.

The Rebels’ 49-7 win over Evangel last week all but clinched the No. 2 seed in the AISA Class AA playoffs.

But Lowndes still has to stay motivated to finish out the season strong.

“We’re trying to tell them how important it is to keep your game tuned up,” said Lowndes coach Art Sullivan. “We’re still trying to improve every week. We want to get better this Friday than we were last Friday.”

The Rebels face a Springwood team that has had a mediocre season on paper but is fresh off a 16-0 win over Lakeside.

“They’re a formidable opponent,” said Sullivan. “This was the year they were looking for, but they’ve had some bad luck and bad injuries.”

The Rebels and Wildcats kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday in Hayneville.

Wilcox Academy (2-7) vs. Pickens (5-3)

After a disappointing season maligned with injuries, the Wildcats enter the home stretch hoping to finish on a positive note.

“At this stage, we’re trying to get better,” said Wilcox coach Chris Burford. “I haven’t been in this situation but a few times.”

The Wildcats’ first step to a happy ending comes against Pickens. The Pirates eked out a 27-26 win over Clarke Prep last week to earn a No. 3 seed in the playoffs.

“You have to pretty much look at each game and give it your best,” said Burford. “I honestly think if we give everything we got, we can compete with anybody.”

The Wildcats and Pirates kick off at 7 p.m. in Camden.

Selma (4-4) vs. Wenonah (3-4)

Selma coach Foster Davis believed his Saints were entering the tough part of the schedule prior to Selma’s loss to Demopolis a month ago.

The proof is on paper. After a surprising 3-0 start, the Saints have dropped four of their last five and hope to snap a three-game losing streak against a struggling Wenonah team.

Ironically, both played a G.W. Carver team last week. The Saints lost to the Carver-Montgomery 55-6, and the Dragons shut out Carver-Birmingham 32-0.

The Saints and Dragons kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday in Tuscaloosa.

Wilcox Central (1-7) vs. Demopolis (4-4)

Wilcox Central faces a tough task in a surging Demopolis team on Friday.

The Tigers started the season 1-4 — two losses away from their first losing season in 14 years. However, they’ve won three straight and find themselves two wins from continuing the streak of positive seasons.

The Tigers’ improvement comes at a bad time for the Jaguars, who fell to Chilton County 38-16 last week.

The Tigers and Jaguars face off at 7 p.m. on Friday in Camden.