AHSFHS Master Researcher
Posted - 11/24/2022 : 10:19:31
Saraland at Theodore
One of the many rematches this week of regular season games, this one had the closest result in the first meeting, with Theodore winning by just one point. Saraland held off Homewood for shootout win 57-56 in OT, but things will be much more difficult on their offense this week. Theodore has been the only team to hold the Saraland offense to under 30 points this year, and it wouldn't shock me to see them do it again. However, the Saraland combination of KJ Lacey and Ryan Williams is a scary duo for any opposing defense.
Pick: Saraland wins 28-20
Mountain Brook at Muscle Shoals
This is a very interesting game in my opinion. Muscle Shoals has made a bit of a Cinderella run to get here--or at least as much of a Cinderella run as a 9-1 team can possibly make--but they've also thoroughly dominated each of the their playoff opponents to this point. On the other side, Mountain Brook expected to be here. The spartans have silenced any doubters that existed following their loss to Gardendale to make it back to the semifinals for the third straight year. After back-to-back semifinal losses, can they finally get over the hump?
Pick: Mountain Brook wins 34-21
Charles Henderson at Faith Academy
Faith surely would have expected to face UMS-Wright at this point, but Charles Henderson pulled off an upset on par with Parker over Clay-Chalkville from the 1st round. Due to being in a weak region, I didn't expect a whole lot from Charles Henderson in the playoffs, but it's impossible to overlook a win over UMS-Wright. One thing to keep on eye is whether or not Faith can maintain a lead if they get a couple of early scores. They blew a 20-0 lead to UMS in the regular season, and each of the past two seasons they have gotten eliminated after blowing a double digit lead in the playoffs. I think the Rams finally get the monkey off their back with a trip to the Super 7.
Pick: Faith Academy wins 26-13
Pleasant Grove at Ramsay
Both of these teams had thrilling Quarterfinal games to set up this rematch--Ramsay over came a double digit 2nd half deficit to knock off Leeds 26-19, and Pleasant Grove outlasted Arab 41-38 in 2OT. Neither of these teams are new to playing late into the postseason. In fact, they met twice in both 2019 and 2020, the latter also being in the semifinals. Each of those years, Ramsay won in the regular season, but Pleasant Grove won in the playoffs. Ramsay won their regular season game this year. Give me Pleasant Grove to once again win the rematch and make their 4th straight title game appearance.
Pick: Pleasant Grove wins 36-20
Andalusia at Montgomery Catholic
I don't want to take anything away from Andalusia, but I was very disappointed by Anniston's inability to close out that game after a 21-0 halftime lead and 21-7 lead to start the 4th. A last-minute punt return TD lifted Andalusia into this rematch with Catholic. I was eager to see how Catholic's defense handled their first real challenge of the season aside from Andalusia, and I was really impressed. But the key to their win over Handley was their special teams. Their defense recorded two safeties on the night, and at least one of them was a direct result of a punt downed inside the 5. I picked Andalusia in my bracket, but Catholic looks like a complete football team.
Pick: Catholic wins 36-21
Oneonta at Cherokee County
This is a matchup that I just can't figure out. Oneonta won in the regular season, but then got embarrassed by an Etowah team that Cherokee County beat a couple weeks later. During the second half of the season, I felt confident that Cherokee County was the better team, but Oneonta may have gotten hot at the right time. They humiliated previously unbeaten Deshler last week, dropping a season-high 62 points on them. I had a Andalusia vs Cherokee County in my bracket, but I think I'm gonna go against both of them in the moment.
Pick: Oneonta wins 33-27
St. James at Mobile Christian
I know there was a lot of chatter about Mobile Christian making the playoffs as a 4 seed despite forfeiting 4 games that relegated them from winning their region, but I disregarded it at the time since I didn't think they'd make it past the 1st round anyway. I will admit, though, that seeing them make it to the state championship game would leave a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. However, they've turned out to be better than I expected, and now find themselves in the semifinals against St. James. The trojans are in uncharted territory, having won a quarterfinal game for the first time last week. The winner gets the pleasure of facing Piedmont for the title...barring another major upset.
Pick: Mobile Christian wins 24-14
Sylvania at Piedmont
Piedmont had a hard-fought game last week in which they never led in the first half, but on the broadcast they said that each of Piedmont's first five possession of the game ended in the Gordo red zone, so it wasn't like they weren't able to move the ball. Sylvania faces an uphill battle in yet another regular season rematch this week, having lose 40-7 to Piedmont in the regular season. They'll likely be a popular upset pick this week, but they aren't 33 points better than they were in the regular season.
Pick: Piedmont wins 41-14
Highland Home at B.B. Comer
The dream continues for both of these teams as they seek their first state championships. Comer hasn't been this far since the mid 90s, while Highland Home is in their third semifinal in 5 years. I think Comer is playing with a little bit of house money at this point, because they got the monkey off their back last week by finally getting past the quarterfinals. Highland Home is hoping to get the monkey off their back this week and finally break through to the title game. This could be a program-defining game for either side.
Pick: B.B. Comer wins 32-29
Pisgah at Fyffe
It's been a storybook year for Pisgah, as they made it past the 2nd round for the first time in two decades. But their story is likely to come to an end this week as they face the buzzsaw that is the Fyffe Red Devils. Fyffe won 40-6 in the regular season, and as much as I'd enjoy seeing a first time state champion, 34 points is too much to make up.
Pick: Fyffe wins 35-14
Leroy at Millry
Can Millry really overcome a South bracket that featured the powerhouses of Brantley, Leroy, Maplesville, Linden, Elba, and Sweet Water to reach their first ever state championship game? I said last week they could really announce their arrival as a program with a win over defending champs Sweet Water. They won 41-6. This the 7th and final rematch in the year's semifinals. Millry won the regular season matchup 36-14.
Pick: Millry wins 27-20
Coosa Christian at Pickens County
This has been the most unpredictable year I can remember in 1A. On paper, this should be as big a mismatch as you'll ever find in a semifinal. Playing the day after Thanksgiving has being routine for Pickens County as they're playing in their 7th straight semifinal and 8th in the last 10 seasons. It has been more challenging this year than most, however, as they failed to win their region after falling to Lynn in the regular season. Coosa Christian, having never won a playoff game prior to this year, have improbably made a run all the way to the semifinals despite a 2-4 start. Two weeks ago they upset a Spring Garden team that had beaten them 27-0 earlier in the season. Last week they dominated that Lynn team that beat Pickens County.
Pick: Pickens County wins 36-24