When teams journey to Auburn this week for the Super 7 finals, there will be some familiar names among the contestants. There will also be some new teams and some who haven’t been there in quite a while.
No Hoover, no St. Paul’s and no Maplesville this year. But from north to south there are some teams getting their first taste of the big show.
1A- Someone is about to win their first state championship. Linden represents the south. Always a playoff team, the Patriots have fallen to Maplesville, Brantley or SweetWater in the playoffs through the years. They did appear in the state championship in 2011, defeating both Maplesville and SweetWater, but lost to Marion County. A 16-8 win last week over Maplesville in the semis gives them an opportunity for their first state championship. Mars Hill started playing football in 2014 and won their first playoff game this season. A 20-12 upset of Pickens County last week got them a trip to Auburn.
2A- Fyffe is back, making their fifth championship appearance in the last six years. They were 2A champions in 2014 and 2016. The Red Devils have been dominant, with their only close game a 21-13 win over Ohatchee in the third round. Their opponent is Luverne who is familiar to the playoffs but makes its first championship game appearance since 2003. The Tigers’ last championship was in 1997 under Coach Butch Norman.
3A- Talk about the old and the new. Piedmont returned to the state championship game by beating Randolph County 26-21, avenging last year’s semi final loss. It will be the Bulldogs third championship game appearance in the last four years, winning in 2015 and 2016. But Flomaton is the exact opposite. Only their third year after moving up from 2A, the Hurricanes needed a victory the last region week to make the playoffs. When they beat Providence Christian last week in the semis 34-33, it was their third straight upset win. Coach Doug Vickery has been at Flomaton for 13 seasons. The Hurricanes had never been past the quarterfinals while competing in 2A.
4A- It doesn’t get more traditional than UMS and Deshler. Deshler has been to the finals 10 times over the past three decades while UMS Wright has been there nine times. But the two teams have ridden different horses to the championship game this year. The Tigers from Tuscumbia finished 5-5 in the regular season while UMS Wright is riding a 18 game winning streak and have given up only 58 points in 13 games.
5A- For Vigor and Central Clay County, it could be a return to glory. Vigor returns to the final game for the first time since 2011, going from good teams to a great team this season. Coach Deric Scott has revived the once powerful Wolves. After several season at Benjamin Russell, Danny Horn returned to Clay County, coaching the school that combined in 2012. The Horn magic is still evident. The Volunteers have made the playoffs all 7 seasons, but never going past the third round until this season. A victory would give Horn his 299th victory.
6A- Coach Patrick Nix has his Pinson Valley squad in the championship game for the second straight year, winning the title last year with a perfect 15-0 record. Their only blemish over the past two seasons has been an opening season loss this past august to to Hoover. Saraland has had a magical season, losing only to Spanish Fort and winning three close playoff games in the last three weeks. Can Coach Jeff Kelly find the magic to give the Spartans their first title?
7A- Since Jamey Dubose arrived in 2014, Central Phenix City has been one of the best teams in 7A. The problem? They lost to McGill Toolen in the semi finals of the playoffs for three consecutive years. The difference this year? The Red Devils defeated McGill 14-0. Phenix City won the championship in 1993, their only trip to the finals. Coach Mark Freeman has the Thompson Warriors in their first championship game in a while. In fact, Thompson’s only trip to the championship game was in 1982, when they defeated Oxford 14-11. The two teams have never met. Thompson made it to the championship game by defeating Hoover in the semis 31-28, avenging an early season loss.