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Winners, losers: Predictions for Week 2

At first, I was glad to have Week 1 behind me headed into this week’s set of predictions. Now that we have a week’s worth of results, scores, stats, rankings, etc., it should be easier to make accurate predictions, right?

Then I realized: now I have that much less excuse for being wrong. And I think we all know there are still going to be times when the only thing wronger than me will be Al Borges in a tube top.

So, so wrong.

If you missed last week’s disclaimer, know that this week’s predictions, as always, are like Miss Cleo’s: for Entertainment Value Only.

Bibb Co. at Demopolis

This is a bigger game for Demopolis than it might appear at first. Of the Tigers’ nine remaining opponents, only two won their opening game, and Bibb was one of them (Greensboro was the other). The Choctaws’ week 1 win wasn’t anything to sneeze at, either: they drilled fellow 2004 4A playoff team Holt 24-0. After going from 1-8 to 5-6 under first-year coach Charlie Boren last season, Bibb’s clearly a team on the rise.

But on the kind of rise that can overturn last year’s 53-0 pasting by Demopolis? Not likely. Boren loves to put the ball in the air, and against Demopolis’s secondary that’s not the brightest of ideas, as both Thomasville and Sumter have discovered. The DHS home crowd will be large and loud, and while Bibb will keep it close for a half this time, the Tigers have too much to let things get too serious.

The pick: Demopolis, by three scores.

American Christian at John Essex

The big, bad Patriots come to town with big, bad Chris Smelley and a big fat number-three state ranking in 1A. Meanwhile, Essex will still be without starting QB Keniote Phillips and fell behind 13-0 last week to a Marengo team that, while definitely on the up-and-up, is just not on the same level as ACA.

But just as Essex showed tremendous heart in getting off the deck against the Panthers, so anyone who thinks the Hornets are going to roll over and play dead for the Patriots is in for a rude awakening. Alphus Shipman’s team is going to scrap and fight and give 48 minutes of effort, and the RB/LB tandem of Chris Jones and Darnell Edwards could give anyone fits. It won’t be enough–SEC-caliber QBs like Smelley make such a huge difference at the 1A level–but ACA can count themselves lucky at the end of the night if they do escape with the win.

The pick: American Christian, by a touchdown or less

Sunshine at Linden

Linden has looked like world-beaters so far in the young season, shutting out Essex in a half of jamboree play and recording a 20-16 road victory over last year’s 2A runner-up Woodland. The hot start will likely continue this week as Sunshine struggled defensively last week in a 36-20 loss to Francis Marion, and there could be more trouble against a Linden offense that can either run around you (with QB Darnell Richardson) or through you (with FB Marvin Richardson). Sunshine has strength on the offensive line, where they return four starters, but even that might be neutralized by Linden’s powerful defensive line. Plus the Patriots are at home…

The pick: Linden, by a baker’s dozen

Southside-Selma at Greensboro

Southside suffered a shutout loss in Week1 while Greensboro racked up a 32-0 shutout win. But then again Southside was playing 6A Selma while the Raiders faced 2A Hale County. But then again again, in 2004 Southside actually beat their crosstown rivals. So on the face of it, since last year’s 7-0 win over Greensboro the Panthers have gotten measurably worse while the Raiders have steadily improved under coach Michael Reynolds. Deeper, better-coached, solid backfield (with QB Ivory White and RB Bruce Brown), playing at home…the signs point to a Raider win in 2005.

The pick: Greensboro, by double-digits

Sweet Water at Akron, Southern Academy at Sumter Academy, Carrollton at A.L. Johnson

All these games are pretty straightforward. Even straightforward in the same way: Akron, Sumter, and Carrollton each lost decisively last week to Holy Spirit, Cornerstone, and Pickens County, respectively. This week they play Sweet Water, Southern, and A.L. Johnson, respectively. Sweet Water, Southern, and A.L. Johnson are much better teams than Holy Spirit, Cornerstone, and Pickens County, respectively. So, despite the efforts of new coaches Vernon Perry (at Akron) and bob Taylor (at Sumter) it just doesn’t look good for Akron, Sumter, or Carrollton. Respectively.

The pick: Sweet Water, Southern, and A.L. Johnson, each by a comfortable margin.

Marengo at Coffeeville

Coffeeville looked awful jittery getting creamed by ACA 62-18 last week, and they won’t likely have any sugar added to their season this week against Marengo. Expect Panther WR Jeremy Dixon, who was all over the field against Essex, to dark roast the Coffeeville corners on his team’s way to a fresh-brewed win. (All right, that last one didn’t make any sense.)

The pick: Marengo, by no less than two touchdowns

Shelby Academy at MMI

I know there’s not all kinds of flexibility worked into an AISA 1A schedule…but still, I doubt new coach Lamar Frith would have chosen to kick off his MMI career by playing the state’s consensus two best 1A teams. MMI’s an improving squad, do-everything QB Jovaris Smith is a heck of a player, and MMI will have home field advantage…but I’m not sure it’ll mean much more than that the Tigers ill post their first points of the season.

The pick: Shelby, but not by shutout

Midfield at Sumter County

38-to-shoulda-been-6 is a lot better than 62-0. Those are Sumter’s scores against Demopolis from the last two seasons, so is a similar improvement coming Friday for the Wildcats against a team that beat them 53-20 in 2004? Given the loooong drive from Birmingham to York, and the energy Sumter showed in the first half against Demopolis before running out of gas in the second half, I’d say it’s very likely. Enough improvement to snag a win? Not quite, but give coach Stacey Watters another year and we’ll see.

The pick: Midfield, by a lot less than 33 points

Francis Marion at West Blocton

In the first big test of new FMHS head coach LaCarlos Harvest’s tenure, the Rams travel to take on a West Blocton team that beat them 25-6 in 2004 and knocked off 5A Brookwood to begin the season. But with the Rams’ bevy of senior athletes and the confidence instilled by Harvest on display against Sunshine last week, FMHS doesn’t look like an easy game for anyone. If the Tigers were coming to Marion we’d be talking upset, but with the game in West Blocton the home team will have just enough of an edge.

The pick: West Blocton, by 10 or less

Dallas County at Livingston

DCHS and Livingston played a 1A (Maplesville) and a 2A (Highland Home) team respectively, and lost by a combined 62 points. Yikes. But with the Hornets’ having to travel and the Cougars relying on the senior leadership from QB Barry Taylor and lineman Derrick Lee, Livingston should be able to rebound.

The pick: Livingston, by a field goal

Jemison at Greene County

Greene County fought hard last week in losing to Clarke County by 10. They’ll fight hard again this week against Jemison, but Jemison was a playoff team a year ago and beat the Tigers 48-14 in 2004. Fighting will get Greene County within two scores again, but new coach William Morgan will have to wait a little longer for his first win.

The pick: Jemison, by 10 to 14

Billingsley at R.C. Hatch

Hatch comes home and should get their first points of the 2005 season after being shut out on the road last week against Hillcrest-Evergreen. They scored 14 of them against Billingsley last year and the Bobcats should have more punch than in 2004. Will they score enough to break Hatch’s long losing streak? Well, probably not.

The pick: Billingsley, by plenty.

Record last week: 8-4

Area teams that made me look good: Demopolis, A.L. Johnson, Southern Academy, Francis Marion

Area teams that shut my big mouth up: Linden, John Essex

Season-to-date: 8-4