Six prep storylines: Region championships on the line this week

·4 min read

Oct. 22—It's championship week, the final week of region play in Alabama. Region titles will be decided, and others could be. Let's get right to the storylines:

1. Simple for Oxford

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All the Yellow Jackets have to do is beat Fort Payne at home to clinch the Class 6A, Region 7 title.

Entering this week, Oxford, Fort Payne and Arab are 4-1 in region play. An Oxford win gives Fort Payne a second region loss. Arab is likely to beat Springville at home, but Oxford has the head-to-head tiebreaker by virtue of the Yellow Jackets' victory at Arab two weeks ago.

2. Simple for Alexandria

In a battle of the Nos. 3 and 4 teams in Class 5A in the Alabama Sports Writers Association poll, Alexandria plays host to Leeds in a game to determine the Region 6 title.

Both are 6-0 in region play. Center Point is a distant third at 4-2.

3. Anniston's region?

The Bulldogs' 28-27 shocker at then-top-ranked Handley last week forced a three-way tie in 4A, Region 4. Aniniston, Handley and Cherokee County are each 4-1 in region play.

Handley plays host to White Plains this week. Anniston goes to Cleburne County, and Cherokee County goes to Jacksonville.

If Anniston and Jacksonville win, the region likely comes down to a tie between Anniston and Handley. Anniston has the head-to-head tiebreaker.

That scenario would also leave Jacksonville as the region's third playoff qualifier and Cherokee County as No. 4, also because of the head-to-head tiebreaker.

If Anniston, Handley and Cherokee County finish 5-1 in region play, Jacksonville would have the No. 4 spot.

In the three-way tiebreaker, Handley has 14 points from non-region victories over Guntersville and Lanett in non-region play and will play Clay Central next week. Anniston has 10 points from Wellborn and Ohatchee. Cherokee County has four points from Springville but lost to Piedmont and played an out-of-state team.

4. That 3A region

As of now, 3A, Region 5 is on course to go down to a three-way tiebreaker for the fourth year in a row. What could change that?

If Wellborn were to pull off an upset at Piedmont (5-1 region), the Bulldogs would have two region losses. Saks (5-1), which plays Hokes Bluff, would have the head-to-head tiebreaker over Ohatchee (5-1), which plays Weaver.

In the three-way scenario, Ohatchee has no non-region victories, and beating Munford (3-6) next week won't help nearly enough.

Piedmont has 10 points from Cherokee County and Jacksonville and plays Alexandria (8-0) next week. Saks has 11 points from Sylvania and Geraldine and has no more non-region games left in the regular season.

5. Speaking of Geraldine

Geraldine ended Fyffe's 51-game winning streak last week, ending the immediate threat to Clay County's state-record 55-game streak.

Geraldine's victory also elevates Piedmont, which beat Geraldine 26-7 in a jamboree Aug. 20, and Saks, which beat Geraldine 54-31 on Sept. 24.

Could the next 3A champion come from the region that involves six teams from Calhoun County? If so, then it's a restoration of order after Fyffe moved up from 2A last year and won state.

6. Debates shaping up

With region races reaching resolution and the playoffs looming, it's time to mull Calhoun County player- and coach-of the-year debates.

In 1A-3A, the race for player of the year looks like a call between Piedmont quarterback and preseason pick Jack Hayes, Ohatchee quarterback Eli Ennis and Saks quarterback Sean Parnell.

A case can be made for four 1A-3A coaches, but Wellborn's Jeff Smith might have the most compelling case. The Panthers lost nearly all of their starters from 2020 and rallied for five consecutive wins after an 0-3 start to return to the playoffs.

Among 4A-6A coaches, Oxford's Sam Adams, Anniston's Rico White and Alexandria's Todd Ginn have compelling cases.

Anniston's Antonio Kite was the preseason pick for player of the year, but several players have played their way into the discussion.

Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.

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