AL.com - Birmingham Area High School Football Games to Watch in Playoff Round 3

The following is a reprint of an article by Dennis Victory of AL.com published November16th.


Thompson's Peter Woods (left) and Jeremiah Alexander celebrate a sack of Florence quarterback Caleb Mahan during a Class 7A Round 1 playoff game at Thompson High School's Warrior Stadium in Alabaster, Ala., Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. (Dennis Victory | preps@al.com)


CLASS 7A SEMIFINAL PLAYOFFS

THOMPSON (11-1) at HOOVER (12-0)

Time/location: 7 p.m. Friday, The Met, Hoover

Last week: Second-ranked Thompson beat Oak Mountain 45-7 and top-ranked Hoover beat eighth-ranked Hewitt-Trussville 24-23 in overtime.

The skinny: Hoover leads the series 23-6, and won this season’s earlier meeting 24-21, but Thompson has won six of the past eight meetings. It’s the fourth straight Class 7A semifinal meeting with Thompson winning three straight. The teams have combined to win seven of the past nine state titles with Hoover earning its 22nd straight playoff appearance, making it to at least the third round all 22. Thompson has five straight playoff appearances with two titles. Thompson’s offense (46.9 points, 228.6 yards rushing, 234.8 passing yards per game) has scored less than 40 points only once and that was the loss to Hoover. QB Conner Harrell (2,390 yards passing, 35 TDs, 3 INT) hasn’t started the past two wins after leaving the Hoover game with a hand injury, but did play last week against Oak Mountain. Backup Zac Sims has gained valuable experience in his stead. Brandon Franklin and Justin Pegues run behind a good OL while receivers Ryan Peppins (67-1,054 yards, 18 TDs) and Jaylen Ward (33-772 yards, 11 TDs) along with Pegues (24-584 yards, 6 TDs) are outstanding. Hoover is also the only team to score more than one touchdown on the Thompson defense (5 shutouts, 5.6 points a game). Jeremiah Alexander (8 sacks, 26 TFL) and Peter Woods (7 sacks, 19 TFL) lead a defense full of multi-star recruits and signees. Hoover’s offense (37.8 points, 229.2 yards passing, 150.9 yards rushing per game) revolves around QB Bennett Meredith (2,582 yards passing, 26 TDs, 7 INT) with receivers Cotton Peters (33-512 yards, 4 TDs), KJ Law (31-511 yards, 3 TDs) and RJ Hamilton 26-427, 6 TDs) producing big plays, although a plethora of dropped passes plagued the Bucs last week. RB Ahamari Williams’ (177-1,142 yards, 14 TDs) low center of gravity always moves toward the goal line. The defense (13.8 points a game) is stout with DL Terrell Jones (1.5 sacks, 10 TFL), Markus Clark (1 sack, 7.5 TFL), Corey Warren (2.5 sacks, 12 TFL) and Andrew Parrish (1 sack, 7 TFL) manning the front while the DBs held up well in the first meeting against Thompson. Dale Miller, Jay Avery, Jacob Finley and Paul Thompson will be tested again.




Clay-Chalkville's Marquarius White breaks loose for a touchdown against Hueytown in Clay, Ala., Friday, Aug. 27, 2021. (Mark Almond | preps@al.com)


CLASS 6A QUARTERFINAL PLAYOFFS

Time/location: 7 p.m. Friday, Cougar Stadium, Clay


Last week: Unranked Gardendale beat Homewood 35-27 and top-ranked Clay-Chalkville beat fifth-ranked Briarwood Christian 56-21.


The skinny: Clay-Chalkville leads the series 9-1, including this season’s 46-0 earlier victory. It’s Gardendale’s eighth straight trip to the playoffs and the first time to the third round since 2015. Clay-Chalkville is making its 10th straight playoff appearance. Run-heavy Gardendale (280.2 yards per game average) is led by RB LT Sanders, who broke the school single-game rushing record against Homewood (29-298 yards) and became the first in program history to run for over 4,000 yards (237-1,961 yards, 19 TDs this season). QB Tyler Nelson (122-934 yards rushing, 9 TDs) has run more times than he’s passed, but has weapons in WR Ean Nation (21-268 yards) and Sanders (14-226 yards, 3 TDs) among others. LBs Nick Rigdon (106 tackles, 4 sacks, 3.5 TFL,1 INT) and Kejuan Brown (74 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 INT) along with DL Kelby Collins (101 tackles, 16 sacks, 12 TFL, 2 fumble recoveries) lead the defense. Caleb Harrell (2.5 sacks, 8 TFL) and Isaiah Robinson (8 TFL) fill are also strong on the DL. Dallas Young (46 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 2 blocked kicks) and Eli Moore (71 tackles, 1 sack, 2 INT) are the last line. Clay-Chalkville’s balanced offense averages 50.6 points a game with six 50-plus point games and a low of 40. QB Khalib Johnson (136-207 passing, 2,381 yards, 33 TDs, 4 INT) throws to WR Squirrell White (40-889 yards, 15 TDs), Mario Craver (31-574 yards, 7 TDs) and Jaylen Mbakwe (31-517 yards, 7 TDs). OL Kyrell Wiggins and Corey Calvin open holes for RB Edward Osley (197-1,510 yards, 23 TDs). The defense allows only 11.3 points a game, led by LB DJ Barber (99 tackles, 9 sacks, 12 TFL). Rondarius Sykes (51 tackles, 3 sacks, 10 TFL), Devin Finley (45 tackles, 8 sacks, 3 TFL) and Jordan Walker (45.5 tackles, 3 sacks, 9 TFL) man the DL. Matthew Yafondo (58 tackles, 2 INT, 3 PBU) and Jayden Sweeney (52.5 tackles, 3 INT, 3 PBU) roam the secondary with White and Mbakwe also seeing time on defense.



Mountain Brook's John Colvin throws long during the first half of the Austin at Mountain Brook high-school football game, Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021, in Mountain Brook, Ala. (Vasha Hunt | preps.al.com)Vasha Hunt


MOUNTAIN BROOK (11-1) at PINSON VALLEY (9-3)

Time/location: 7 p.m. Friday, Willie Adams Stadium, Pinson Valley

Last week: Third-ranked Mountain Brook beat Jackson-Olin 45-14 and ninth-ranked Pinson Valley beat Oxford 20-0.

The skinny: Mountain Brook leads the series 2-1 with a 27-10 playoff loss in last year’s semifinal round. The Spartans have six straight postseason appearances while Pinson Valley is making its 12th straight playoff, reaching at least the semifinal round each of the past four seasons with three titles. Mountain Brook is solid on both sides of the ball with an efficient and balanced offense and smothering defense. QB John Colvin (96-160 passing, 1,683 yards, 26 TDs, 5 INT) is smooth while finding receivers Jackson Beatty (28-767 yards, 12 TDs), who had three catches, all for touchdowns against Jackson-Olin. Jake Thompson, Sims Brown and Wyatt Brooks are also targets in an offense that averages 35.8 points a game. Will Waldrop was the main ground component last week with 157 yards on 21 carries, but Cole Gamble, George Cain and Michael Lorino are great complements at RB behind an OL anchored by Wilder Hines. The defense has five shutouts (allows 8 points a game average) and only Thompson’s outstanding offense scored more than 14 points this season.

Trent Wright, John McMillan, Vaughn Frost and Quinn Thomas make plays at LB behind DL Gray Doster and Tompkins Richards. Jones Beavers and Mac McCowan are secondary leaders. Pinson Valley’s offense (31.0 points a game) is headed by QB Zach Pyron, who’s just as dangerous running as throwing the ball, with two rushing TDs against Oxford. Mike Sharpe had 113 yards on 16 carries last week while Taurus Chambers ran for 68 yards. The OL is anchored by Cameron Ambrose and Joel Brown while top receiving targets are Taborie Reed, Amare Thomas – he returned last week’s opening kickoff 80 yards for a score – and Korbyn Williams. The defense allows 21.6 points a game with three shutouts this season. BJ Diakite is tough to block on the DL and LB Jacobi Jackson roams from sideline to sideline. TJ Metcalf, who’s also an offensive threat, is the leader at DB.



Hueytown quarterback Earl Woods breaks away to score against McGill-Toolen in the second half of a prep football playoff game Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, in Mobile, Ala. (Mike Kittrell | preps@al.com)


OPELIKA (9-3) at HUEYTOWN (11-1)

Time/location: 7 p.m. Friday, Hueytown

Last week: Unranked Opelika downed fourth-ranked Spanish Fort 28-14 and seventh-ranked Hueytown beat McGill-Toolen 49-17.


The skinny: The series is tied at one win each with Opelika winning the last meeting 45-24 in the third round of playoffs. Opelika is making its 12th straight playoff appearance while Hueytown plays in its sixth straight playoff season. Opelika’s offense (157.3 yards rushing, 123.1 yards passing per game) relies on RBs Kaden Cooper (176-763 yards, 15 TDs) and Jamori Thomas (60-397 yards, 4 TDs), who was injured earlier this season behind an OL anchored by Jaylin Thomas and Marquavian Johnson. WR Shawn Jones (30-487 yards, 3 TDs) and JayVontay Conner (24-405 yards, 6 TDs) are the primary targets for QB Roman Gagliano (63-99, 1,019 yards, 10 TDs, 3 INT). The defensive front is a strength with DL Brenton Williams (30 tackles, 2 sacks, 6 TFL), Jake Smith (44 tackles, 1 sack, 5 TFL) and Montae Hutchinson (30 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFL). LB Tae Gay (59 tackles, 4 TFL, 3 fumble recoveries) and Taylor Love (72 tackles, 6 sacks, 12 TFL) clean up. Ole Miss DB commit Jarell Stinson 4 INT, 1 TD) and Jamaroun Satterwhite (70 tackles, 2 INT) lead the back end. Hueytown’s go-fast offense is a scoring machine, already breaking the program record for points with 652 this season (54.3 per game) and nine games with 50-plus points. QB Earl Woods (121-214 passing, 2,392 yards, 26 TDs, 8 INT, 221-1,757 rushing, 29 TDs) heads the prolific offense with 55 TDs this season. RB Jakhael Rowser (112-811 yards, 15 TDs) is the primary ball carrier, running behind OL Jordan Tannehill and Braden Northcutt, and is the second-leading receiver. DeAndre Coleman (57-1,341 yards, 18 TDs receiving) is a scoring threat whether running, throwing or catching. The defense allows 23 points a game. LB Evan Brown, Stevens Hicks and Jaden Thomas along with DL Mikel Hines are key.



Parker's William Shelton looks to throw against Ramsay behind the protection of Khalifa Keith (left) and Kejuan Mosley at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala., Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. (Mark Almond | preps@al.com)


CLASS 5A QUARTERFINAL PLAYOFFS


PARKER (11-1) at FAIRVIEW (11-1)

Time/location: 7 p.m. Friday, Dafford Smith Stadium, Fairview


Last week: Seventh-ranked Parker beat third-ranked Alexandria 41-34 and unranked Fairview beat ninth-ranked Russellville 35-21.


The skinny: The two schools have never met in football. Parker is making its third straight playoff appearance and the first trip to the third round since 1998. It’s Fairview’s fourth straight playoff trip and first time to the third round since 1994. Coach Frank Warren has guided Parker to only its second 11-win season in history. The Thundering Herd run the ball, then run some more with a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Khalifa Keith (167-1,737 yards, 22 TDs) and Ju’Warren Minnifield (118-1,135 yards, 12 TDs). QB William Shelton (95-151, 1,733 yards, 20 TDs) targets WR Andre Carr (306 yards, 5 TDs), Josh Struggs (256 yards, 1 TD) and Carl Pitts (213 yards, 4 TDs) in an offense that averages 40.6 points a game. The defense (21.9 points a game average) is led by LB Charles Gray (107 tackles). Fellow backer Carlton Duncan (67 tackles, 2 INT) along with DL Ahmad Harris (31 tackles, 5 sacks), Phillip Davidson (46 tackles, 2 sacks) and Jeremiah Beaman (33 tackles, 2 sacks) are the mainstays. Monte Henley (74 tackles 3 INT) leads the defensive back. Fairview Coach George Redding led the Aggies to the first 11-win season in school history. Fairview averages 45.6 points a game behind QB/DB Parker Martin, a two-time first team all-state on defense. He had four touchdowns against Russellville last week. Eli Frost and Tyler Simmons split time at RB since Simons has missed time due to injury. WR Jameson Goble and Bryson Chamness are primary targets. OL/DL Ethan Bice is the best down lineman on both sides of the ball. The defense allows 20 points a game. In a close game, K/P Elijah Guyton has a big leg – Kohl’s Kicking ranks him a 4-star kicker and 3.5 star punter – and could be the difference.



Leed's Mekhi Jones (12) pursues Pleasant Grove's Demarcus Lacey (1) at Spartan Stadium in Pleasant Grove, Ala., Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. (Marvin Gentry | preps@al.com)


PLEASANT GROVE (10-1) at CENTER POINT (9-3)

Time/location: 7 p.m. Friday, Bowman Field, Center Point


Last week: Second-ranked Pleasant Grove beat sixth-ranked Leeds 35-0 and Center Point beat Ramsay 9-0.


The skinny: Pleasant Grove leads the series 10-2, including a 35-0 victory in 2015. The Spartans have lost in the title game each of the past two seasons and are making their 10th straight postseason trip. Center Point is making its fourth straight playoff appearance, all under coach George Bates, and is in the third round for the fourth time in program history. The Eagles have never advanced past the third round. Pleasant Grove’s productive offense has scored 487 points (44.3 points a game) and has a shot at breaking the school record of 523 points set by the 2019 squad. RB Demarcus Lacey (124-1,512 yards, 21 TDs) makes defenders miss and runs over them behind an OL that includes Anez Cooper, Malachi Carney and Eric Turner. QB Alex Young (105-163, 1,963 yards, 27 TDs, 3 INT) has four targets with double-digit receptions. Cam Harris (29-602 yards, 10 TDs), Tadarius Parker (24-575 yards, 7 TDs), Bray Coleman (17-325 yards, 6 TDs) and Lacey (16-226 yards, 3 TDs). The defense surrenders 14.3 points a game, by DL Braylon Woods (40 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 12 pressures) and Deshawn Love (37 tackles, 10.5 TFL, 7 sacks, 1 fumble recovery TD, 1 FG block). BJ Jordan (73.5 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 4 sacks, 1 INT, 3 pressures, 1 FF), Aiden Hall (77 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 1 sack, 1 INT, 1 PBU) and Ahmer Brown (33 tackles, 4 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 6 pressures) handle backer duties. Covaunte Harrell (73.5 tackles, 7 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 9 pressures, 1 INT), Cam Wormley (8 PBU, 1 pressure, 1 INT) and Markell Jordan (31.5 tackles, 4 PBU, 3 INT, 1 TD) are the last line of defense.. Center Point utilizes RB Troy Bruce (1,579 yards, 26 TDs) to spark its offense, which averages 29.5 points a game. QB Jabari Collier (834 yards rushing, 9 TDs, 1,103 yards passing, 11 TDs) is good throwing and running the ball. The OL is led by Jaden Jones, DeRaiven Crawford and James Daniels. WR Harold Holloman (27 catches, 5 TDs) is the top receiving target. The defense gives up 17.8 points a game with a front seven that includes DL Crawford (45 tackles, 2 sacks) and LB Malik Brown (66 tackles, 5 sacks) along with Gerald Perry and Demario Hicks. Kemarius Horne leads the Eagles with five interceptions while Deon Moore is also strong at DB.