The season in finally here and everyone must be glad. There are some interesting match ups and intriguing questions as the 2021 high school football season begins. Don't expect the answers to come easy or quick, but eventually they will come.
1) Is this season going to be a Covid repeat of last year? Everyone hopes not, but we already have lost the Opp- Geneva and Goshen-Holtville games due to Covid outbreaks. “It happened quickly,” Geneva head coach Les Sanders said Monday. “It started Friday and now we are at 24 (players in) quarantine (contract tracing) and with two positives. We are down to five-six linemen on the team.” In addition to the virus itself and forfeits, schools also face the possibility of decreased gates again. Sanders expected a $8,000 to $9,000 gate, but know that money is lost. After last year, schools need those dollars. Especially the small schools which depend on football to be the primary cash cow for athletics. Covid issues have also forced Wenonah to forfeit to Center Point.
2) Is it Huntsville vs the World? The public schools in the Huntsville area have suffered loss after loss to Birmingham area schools in the playoffs. Week 0 has them venturing out taking on schools from Birmingham and Mobile as well. Is this the year they take a step to the next level? These games will help answer that question.
Murphy @ James Clemons
Gardendale @ Sparkman
Huntsville vs Spain Park
3) Can Mobile challenge Montgomery, Huntsville and Birmingham and come away with victories? 6A McGill hosts 5A Pike Road, who went 11-1 last year. The Patriot defense gave up only 8.9 points per game last season and have added transfer Khurtiss Perry, a 4 star defensive lineman who came over from Park Crossing. But this could be a battle of running backs. New McGill coach Norman Joseph hopes to get runner Braylon McReynolds loose early and often. Pike Road will counter with Quinshon Judkins, who was 1st team 5A All State last year.
Murphy did not get to play James Clemons last year do to Covid, but they are generally considered to have been Huntsville's best big school team the past few seasons. Murphy wants to get back to that playoff level- the Panthers of Coach Rico Jackson have not had a double digit win season since 2008 under Ronn Lee. This is a big game for both schools.
St. Pauls' travels to Birmingham to play McAdory, which went 4-7 last season under Bart Sessions. New coach Aryvia Holmes has the task of trying to slow the Saints, who averaged 33 points per game last season on the way to the 5A State Championship and a 15-0 season.
4) Can 4A Etowah play with 7A Gadsden City? Can 2A Mars Hill play with 6A Jasper? These neighbors have played some good games in the past, but Gadsden whipped Etowah 34-0 last year. But the 4A Blue Devils have won 50 games in the last 5 seasons for three different coaches, so they have some talent. Gadsden City is coming off of a 3-7 year and have won only 10 games in the last four years.
Mars Hill is trying to up their game by taking on some tougher teams. They lost to Jasper 30-20 to open the 2020 season and went on to win the 2A championship. The Panthers played Fyffe tough in last week's preseason scrimmage, but Jasper has more troop numbers. After two 11-1 seasons, Jasper suffered to a 3-7 campaign in Coach Phillip Bailey's first season. The Vikings need a win to start the season if they plan on making the playoffs in a tough Region 6 that includes Clay Chalkville, Pinson Valley, Gardendale, and Minor.
5) Barbour County Gets Forfeit Win -Barbour County is picking up a forfeit win from Stewart County (Ga.) this week. The two were scheduled to play in Clayton on Thursday. The forfeit win puts an end to an eight-year, 60-game on-the-field losing streak dating back to Oct. 18, 2013. “It wasn’t COVID,” head coach Chad Martin told the Dothan Eagle of Stewart County’s cancellation. “They were not comfortable with enough players to play. It is unfortunate, but I understand.”
6) Check out ALFCA Twitter to stay up with all of the latest in Alabama high school football news-- @ALFCA_