Here are five scenarios to watch during and hot shots in the Tuscaloosa region during the high school football playoffs. The first round starts on Friday and the State Championships take place December 1-3 at Protective Life Stadium in Birmingham.
Five scenarios to follow
Can Gordo return to the state?
Gordo (8-2) is still taking off. He has recently seen slow starts, unfinished practices and turnovers, trends that could prevent the Greenwave from returning to Class 4A status for the second season in a row. If these can be eliminated, however, Oregon quarterback hires Tanner Bailey and Gordo can play with most teams.
Can Hillcrest play full games throughout the playoffs?
Two below-par quarterbacks essentially cost Ethan Crawford and Hillcrest (8-2) a perfect pre-playoff record as he lost by one score to Homewood and Hueytown.
Forty-eight minutes of focused football are needed if Hillcrest advances to face Helena, the top scorer in the second round, and Saraland afterwards – and certainly if he sees Hueytown or Spanish Fort again in the semifinals.
With the regional title, is this the year that Northside passes the third round?
Northside (9-1) has already surpassed his 2020 points total with three fewer games played, averaging 33.7 non-forfeit points. The Rams knocked out No.1 seed Madison Academy in the second round of the last playoffs and lost the following week.
Another clash at No.1 ranked Madison Academy awaits in the third round if neither team gets angry. Like last season, the game will come down to Northside being efficient as was the case this season in the de facto 4A-Region 5 Championship game against Gordo.
Can Pickens County Break through and Win the State?
The Tornadoes enter the 1A playoffs after his annual test against 4A Gordo. Coach Mike Williams said Gordo’s game was good for Pickens County (8-2), which lost to the state in 2020 and reached the semi-finals all three seasons under Williams.
Having athletic quarterback and defensive back Javion Belle-McCrary gives Pickens County a chance every round.
How will the ACA react when a team matches their talent?
The American Christian Academy (9-1) has made it through the regular season and will eventually face a team capable of facing each other. The Patriots have won victories over area rivals Bibb County and West Blocton, but there’s another level of competition that fellow No.1 seeds Vigor and Handley bring to the state.
Pickens County wins state after being short for half a decade
After knocking and looking inside the door for five seasons, Pickens County will finally win the 1A Championship again. The Tornadoes quadrant before the semi-finals is not as difficult as the other No. 1 seeds.
Pickens County showed they could make winning plays against Gordo, forcing a fumble and stopping the race on third downs. Belle-McCrary, responsible for 26 touchdowns on offense and defense, may have a playoff MVP-caliber run.
Hillcrest defeats Helena in the second round
No.10 Hillcrest beat McAdory 30-7 quietly unlike No.1 and 9-1 seed Helena; No.8 Helena won 41-35 in overtime. The Patriots also outperformed Helena against Wetumpka, but by one point.
Hillcrest would have been viewed differently had he not struggled in the second quarter after a weather delay against Hueytown and gave Homewood a double-digit fourth-quarter lead in Game 1. Crawford will present himself to the whole state in the playoffs.
ACA goes to the state
The ACA No.2 brings one of the state’s most powerful offensive and electric players to the playoffs, averaging 42.6 points. Sawyer Deerman, from Ole Miss, Tennessee and Michigan State offerings, shifts the offense to quarterback.
Deerman was not understood and has reliable playmakers in Chance Henderson and Christian Davis. No.3 Vigor and reigning State Champion No.7 Handley will be present in the third and fourth rounds. ACA lost in the fourth round last season but reloaded.
Contact Jerell Rushin at 205-600-4015 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @JerellRushin_.