Week 3 Predictions: More of the same?

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 9, 2005

Sometimes a conscience can be a great thing. If it wasn’t for my conscience refusing to let me skip brushing my teeth each night, I’m pretty sure my smile would look like a hockey player’s by now. If it wasn’t for the “Lil’ C,” as I’ll call it for the purposes of this column, I’d be living of off Sonic cheeseburgers, Mountain Dew, and Mexican food, and my arteries would have gone on strike last week.

But sometimes a conscience can be a real drag. Take its reaction when I looked over last week’s set of predictions…

Me: OK, Sumter County didn’t play Midfield (uh, oops)…Dallas County and Livingston’s postponed…so, YES! 12-0! A perfect week! Can’t wait to crow about it in this week’s column.

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LC: Yeah, great job Nostradamus. You managed to correctly predict that 11 clear favorites and a home team would win. The only thing less surprising this weekend than your 12-0 was Brent Musberger hyperventilating about a three-yard sweep for the 72nd consecutive broadcast. Face it, your average parakeet would have made the same predictions.

Me: But look at some of my scorelines. “Demopolis, by three scores.” The final? 28-6, thankyouverymuch. “Shelby Academy over MMI, but not by shutout.” Bingo, 42-7.

LC: So how about, “American Christian, by a touchdown or less”? They won 48-2.

Me: Shut up! No apologies from me for seeing a hometown team’s glass-half-full, you know.

LC: Sorry. Hey, you know what would make you feel better? Some nice fresh spinach.

Me: I hate you.

Well, easy week last week or not, I’m still not going to complain if things go as well this go round. Though as always, any area teams I’ve picked to lose would make my day by winning, predictions be danged. And as always, all picks are to be taken with a whole shaker’s worth of grains of salt. Onwards and upwards…

Demopolis at Dallas County

So what does Dallas County have going for it this week? The long bus ride from Demopolis to Plantersville.

What do the Hornets have going against them? Just about everything else: Dontrell Miller. A healthy Tiger defense. Two weeks of rust after last week’s game at Livingston was cancelled. That 36-6 week 1 loss to 1A Maplesville. Ezell Braxton. Rapidly improving Demopolis special teams (4-4 extra points last week.) And did we mention Dontrell Miller?

Demopolis still has room for improvement, especially in the running game, where players not named “Dontrell Miller” totaled only 50 yards on 20 attempts against Bibb Co., an un-Demopolis-esque 2.5 yards-per-carry. But exactly how much DHS will improve against the Hornets is the only real question mark about Friday night. That, and how long it really takes to get to and from Plantersville.

The pick: Demopolis, by a bunch

East Memorial at WAP

Even if I expected WAP to lose this game, I doubt I’d have the heart to pick against them. It’s conceivable that the Titans could rise up and knock off a team like Dixie Academy even after a loss to East Memorial…but it sure wouldn’t seem likely. Lose this one, and the Titans will be staring 0-10 square in the face.

The good news is that East Memorial can be beaten–their first two games were blowout losses, to Jackson and Central, similar to WAP’s first two–and coach Marshall Murphy’s pledge to keep the ball on the ground and in new starting tailback Greg Yelverton’s hands should help cut down on the Titan’s turnover woes.

Will it happen? Depends on whether the Titans’ offensive line can give Yelverton a hole or two. They’ve struggled to do that against Marengo and Cornerstone…but EMCA isn’t Marengo or Cornerstone. Here’s to hope.

The pick: WAP, by two

Southern Academy at Chambers Academy

Another week, another lopsided win for the Cougars. Sitting at 1-1, Chambers is very likely a tougher opponent than previous Southern victims MMI (46-0) or Sumter (47-0). It’s a long, long way from Greensboro to Lafayette. It’s within the realm of possibility that the Rebels will even score. But the way QB Wallace Drury is running the ball (242 yards on 10 carries vs. Sumter…yeah, that’s good) a win is NOT much within the realm of possibility. Consider this the appetizer before Southern’s main course next week, a championship-game rematch with Shelby Academy in Greensboro.

The pick: Southern, by thirty

Patrician Academy at Marengo Academy

The Longhorns looked like world-beaters against WAP, but that was a loooooong two weeks ago (Marengo’s week 2 game vs. Cottage Hill in Mobile was cancelled) and Patrician is, to say the least, a big step up in competition from the Titans. As in, 2004 2A runner-up competition. The Longhorns have the depth, the strength on the lines (tackles Robbie Smith and Josh Dunn are a couple of bulldozers), and the decision-making in senior QB Trey Lyles to give the Saints some major headaches. But to go from 0-10 to upsetting last year’s 2A runner-up just seems a bit too much to ask, even at home.

The pick: Patrician, by a touchdown or less

A.L. Johnson at American Christian

Last season A.L. Johnson hosted the Patriots and came within one double-overtime point, 32-31 of making a complete mess of ACA’s plans for a perfect season. But Thomaston is a tough, tough place to go and play and conditions will be much friendlier this season in Tuscaloosa, so a repeat of last year’s drama seems unlikely.

That doesn’t mean it won’t happen. QB Michael McGhee and the rest of Johnson’s athletes will give ACA fits and after 2004 the Eagles won’t be intimidated. A win would give Johnson a huge leg up in the Region 4 playoff race. But ACA’s Chris Smelley is just too polished and the Patriots too well-coached to lose at home.

The pick: ACA, by 10

Greensboro at Jemison

Can the resurgence continue in Greensboro? Jemison defeated the Raiders 28-14 in 2004, one of six losses in Greensboro coach Michael Reynolds’ first seven games. But the Raiders have won five straight since and last week turned the tables on Southside-Selma, another team that knocked off Greensboro in 2004. Still, two of Greensboro’s three scores vs. Southside were defensive returns for TDs, and the Raiders will need more production and fewer penalties from their offense to keep their streak alive. Notching victories over both Southside and Jemison would be an enormous boost to Greensboro’s hopes of returning to the playoffs, but I’m not sure the Raiders can score enough on the road. Toughest game of the week to call.

The pick: Jemison, by four

Sumter Academy at MMI

Sumter opened the season with Cornerstone and Southern. MMI opened with Southern and Shelby. Sumter and MMI’s combined record? An unsurprising 0-4. Total combined score of the four losses? A still-less-than-surprising Opponents 155, Sumter-MMI 7.

So it’s good that both teams will catch a bit of a break by facing each other, though it’s bad to have to predict a loser one way or the other. MMI will have home-field and dynamic QB Jovaris Smith. Sumter will have fiery senior tackle Brandon Briggs to open holes for the Eagles and collapse MMI’s. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the game come down to who converts their two-point attempts…the coin-flip says Sumter

The pick: Sumter, by two

Linden at Akron

Poor Akron: they played Sweet Water last week (L, 84-6) and get Linden this week. Poor Sunshine: they played Linden last week (L, 40-6) and get Sweet Water this week. Thank goodness for the two of them: they play each other next week.

The pick: Linden, by a lot

John Essex at Carrollton

Essex is hurting. QB Keniote Phillips isn’t 100 percent. RB Chris Jones left last week’s game with a shoulder injury. The Hornets weren’t all that deep to begin with. But there’s still plenty of talent on the field for Essex, including big senior lineman Robert Parker, who broke through ACA’s o-line multiple times and even notched the Hornets’ only points on a safety. Essex kick returner Brian Matthews twice came within the proverbial “one man to beat” of going all the way. Though it won’t be easy, there’s enough big plays left in the Hornets to pull out a win.

The pick: Essex, by a touchdown

Greene County at Southside-Selma

The Greene County Tigers are going to break through one of these weeks. After leading a good Clarke County team by 8 at the half and losing by one score to Jemison, GCHS is bound to put it all together one week and come up with an upset. Is this that week, against a struggling 0-2 Panther team? Expect huge (6-3, 246) defensive end Kelvin Johnson and athletic QB Robert Jones to come out angry and make it so. There hasn’t been an out-and-out upset in the region yet…I think we’re due.

The pick: Greene County, by three

J.F. Shields at Marengo High

Shields only narrowly escaped Marengo during the Panthers’ 2-8 2004 season and now gets to face the rejuvenated Panthers after rusting for a week following a Katrina postponement. A win would put Marengo at 2-0 in 1A Region 1 and put them only a few (somewhat likely) victories away from a playoff berth. If QB Jarvis McCall (16-20, 346, 6 TDs) and his cadre of receivers (Jeremy Dixon, Ronnie Hildreth, Keldred Bouler, T.J. Brown) play anything like they did in Week 2 vs. Coffeeville, it’s a win they’ll get.

The pick: Marengo, by seventeen

West Blocton at Sumter County, Livingston at Bibb County

Not a happy week last week for the Sumter schools, as the Wildcats lost 28-0 at home to regional rival Clarke County and Livingston’s field conditions in the wake of Katrina forced their game with Dallas County postponed to Tuesday, Sept. 20. (Also, a certain bubble-headed Sports Editor for a certain local paper inexplicably had SCHS hosting Midfield in his column last week.)Things likely won’t be too much brighter after this week. Blocton and Bibb are both programs on the rise and while the same might be said for Sumter and Livingston (we’ll see as the season progresses) Blocton and Bibb are rising from a couple of rungs already a bit higher up the ladder. Still, can’t see the Wildcats’ QB tandem of Cordarrin Wilson and Larry Foster being held scoreless for a third straight game at home.

The picks: Blocton and Bibb, by three scores apiece or so.

Northside at Francis Marion

Northside broke a long (as in 0-10 in 2004) losing skid last week against Central-Hayneville in resounding fashion, 39-19. But they still lost to 1A Berry 50-0 the week before. FMHS should have too much senior leadership to lose this Battle of the Rams, especially in Marion.

The pick: Francis Marion, by 14

R.C. Hatch at Calera

Maybe some week, Bobcats. But against one of 2A’s better teams? Not this week.

The pick: Calera, by Easily

Record last week: 12-0

Area teams that made me look good: Demopolis, Southern Academy, Sweet Water, A.L. Johnson, Linden, Greensboro, Marengo

Area teams that shut my big mouth up: none

Season-to-date: 20-4