The Lamar County High School football team will travel Friday night to Red Bay (Ala.) for a showdown between the last two unbeatens in the Alabama High School Activities Association’s Class 2A, Region 8. Each squad enters the contest at 3-0 and 2-0 in region play.
Elsewhere in the coverage area Friday night, Sulligent will play host to Colbert Heights in another Class 2A, Region 8 game, Pickens County will visit Essex in Class 1A, Region 4, South Lamar will play host to Brilliant in a Class 1A, Region 5 game, and Aliceville will play host to Tanner. In the Alabama Independent School Association, Pickens Academy will play host to longtime rival Tuscaloosa Academy.
All games start at 7 p.m.
Lamar County (3-0, 2-0) at
Red Bay (3-0, 2-0)
Lamar County can match last season’s win total and take a one-game lead in the Class 2A, Region 8 race with a victory. The Bulldogs will attempt to make amends for a 35-25 loss to the Tigers last year.
“Red Bay is well coached and they do a real good job,” said Lamar County coach Ken Adams, whose team is also receiving votes in Class 2A in this week’s Alabama Sports Writers Association poll. “This is a game we take personal. Red Bay physically whipped us last year. After watching tapes of last year’s game, we feel like they just whipped us. That has been on our minds as coaches the entire year.
“They are big and physical. They are a good team and they are older, too. This will be a good matchup. We are both undefeated, and whoever wins this game will have the upper hand in the region. Our kids have taken to that this week.”
Lamar County beat region foe Phil Campbell 51-20 last week. It rushed for 297 yards and had 15 players get a carry. Eric Smith had 63 rushing yards and a team-best two touchdowns.
The tone was set early when the Lamar County defense had takeaways on its first three times on the field. The Bulldogs finished with six takeaways, including interceptions by Alex Denton, Jabarrus Buchanan, Lemetrius Williams, and Tyler Sprouse. George Spratt and Spencer Martinez had fumble recoveries. Spratt returned his for a score.
“One of our better defensive players has been George Spratt,” Adams said. “He actually starts at nose guard. His motor runs all the time and he has helped us intensity wise more than anyone. I think our team feeds off his energy.”
While the defense has sparkled all season, the offense is beginning to join the party.
“The kids have played well and our defense has played extremely well,” Adams said. “They have allowed our offense to sort of feel their way out the first three weeks. Last week against Phil Campbell, the offense started to see things and make the plays we expect them to make. The defense and special teams have allowed them to grow up a little bit.”
No. 8 Red Bay opened its region schedule by defeating Lexington (24-7) and Colbert Heights (35-28).
Colbert Heights (2-1, 1-1) at Sulligent (1-2, 1-1)
In another Region 8-2A contest, Sulligent returns home to face Colbert Heights. It will face an uphill battle after losing three starters to injury.
The Blue Devils will be back on the field after a 20-13 region loss to Lexington last week.
“We played pretty well in the opener against Hamilton,” Sulligent coach Scott Marchant said. “We were just a few plays away from making that a different game. We did well enough to win at Hatton the next week, but with the new offense and new defense, we still made mistakes in alignments and assignments.
“We lost a heartbreaker last week at Lexington. We came within two yards of tying the game on the last play, so that was a tough one. We have to regroup and refocus.”
Running back Peter Swanigan ran 12 times for 134 yards and two touchdowns against Lexington. For the season, quarterback John Potmesil has completed 19 passes for 337 yards and three touchdowns.
“(John) is a doing a great job,” Marchant said. “He has progressed nicely. He had a really good game at Lexington. We had a ton of dropped passes and at least three touchdown passes that were dropped. If we block well in the run game, catch the ball, and line up correctly we will play pretty well.”
Colbert Heights is also coming off a heartbreaker, a 35-28 home region setback to Red Bay. The loss snapped a two-game win streak.
“Colbert Heights is a good football team,” Marchant said. “They have a lot of good players. We have some injuries to overcome this week. I am not going to name any names, but we have three starters that will be out this week. We have asked our younger guys to step up and become playmakers. We have to deal with adversity, and if we allow it to, it can help us in the long run.”
Pickens County (3-0, 2-0) at Essex (1-2, 1-1)
Pickens County and its high-flying offense will take to the road for a Class 1A, Region 4 matchup against John Essex. The Tornadoes are averaging 49.7 points per game this season after beating Keith 44-0 last week. Pickens County has scored 40 or more points in eight of 16 games under coach Patrick Plott.
“It’s good to be 3-0, but we still have a lot of work to do,” said Plott, whose team is No. 8 in Class 1A in this week’s ASWA poll. “We have to continue to come out each week and get better. We have played well on offense and defense and special teams. However, we need to take care of the little things to get better.”
Through three games, senior workhorse back De’Marko Hall has scored 13 touchdowns.
“He can line up in a lot of different positions for us on offense,” Plott said. “He is very good in the kicking game, as far as being a return guy. He does a lot of things for this team.”
While Hall is the catalyst, the balance on offense has made Pickens County hugely successful.
“We try and get our skill guys out in space and get them the football,” Plott said. “We try and take advantage of matchups. We may not throw a long pass, but because of matchups it can become a 75-yard pass. We have several guys that can catch a five-yard pass and turn it into a 75-yard pass.”
Essex comes in off its best performance of the year – a 28-0 region win at Sunshine.
“We have to go out and be ready to play football,” Plott said. “We will get their best shot.”
Tanner (3-0) at Aliceville (2-1)
Aliceville will look to extend its two-game win streak in a non-region matchup against Tanner.
Last week, Aliceville beat Montevallo 45-24 in a Class 3A, Region 4 game. The Yellow Jackets will take this brief step out of region play with a 2-0 region mark.
Tanner, ranked third in the state in Class 2A and has outscored its opposition 133-21.
“The last two weeks we have taken care of the football pretty well,” Aliceville coach Charles Moody said. “We are minus-two in turnovers, so we need to improve that. We also need to improve our opponent’s time of possession. They have had the ball too much the first three weeks. We need to create more three-and-outs and force more turnovers.”
Aliceville has bounced back strong after making eight turnovers in a season-opening 28-20 loss to Greene County. Quarterback Chris Crowell has thrown for 790 yards in three games. Wide receiver Joe Robinson had a team-best 170 receiving yards last week against Montevallo. Only a sophomore, Robinson has four touchdowns this season.
Senior Demario Lanier has a team-high 380 receiving yards, including five catches for scores. He leads the team with seven touchdowns, including two kickoff returns for scores.
Aliceville will need this continued offensive production to hold off a talented Tanner squad.
“They run the ball very well,” Moody said. “They have a lot of athletes. They are athletic, fast, and physical. They are used to winning. Last year, no one scores on them until week nine. They are used to blowing people out. They have some lopsided wins this year, too. This will be a good test for us and will get us ready for Pickens County and Gordo the next two weeks. Tanner is similar to each of those teams.”
Brilliant (1-2, 0-2) at South Lamar (0-3, 0-2)
South Lamar will lo
Scott was sports editor for The Dispatch.