Week 9 Predictions: Season’s last big week

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 21, 2005

For every area team, there’s one more game on the schedule after this week’s. But that doesn’t mean that for some, this week isn’t essentially end the end of the season.

This is the week that finally decides whether a team makes the playoffs or not (i.e. Linden at A.L. Johnson, Sumter Acad. at East Memorial). The week that a team faces its far-and-away biggest challenge to an undefeated season (Southern Acad. vs. Patrician) or its far-and-away best chance to avoid finishing the season winless (West Alabama Preparatory vs. Dixie). The week that a potentially critical bit of regional seeding is finalized (John Essex at Sunshine, Greensboro at Livingston).

Next week? With regional play statewide finished save for a handful of AISA dates, the spotlight falls on rivalry games. But with the majority of area rivalries decided either in-region (Essex and Linden, DHS and Greensboro) or the first week of the season (Sweet Water and Thomasville, WAP and Marengo Academy) there’s not a whole lot left by Week 10. Three games, in fact: Marengo Acad. vs. Sumter Acad., Sumter County vs. Livingston and Francis Marion vs. R.C. Hatch. And while the last two games will mean a heck of a lot to those schools, it’s also true that the schools’ match-ups on the hardwood this winter will mean more to most of their fans than the ones on the gridiron.

Email newsletter signup

The rest of the Week 10 slate is either tune-up games for playoff-bound teams (John Essex at Greensboro the most intriguing) or games that, to be honest, just won’t have an awful lot of emotion behind them.

So enjoy this week, football fans. It’s the last one we’ll see like it until this time next year.

On to the week’s set of predictions, which, as always, should be taken about as seriously as the president of the U.S. Marijuana Party’s attempt to run for governor of Alabama.

Greene County at Demopolis: Poor Greene County. The 2-5 Tigers arrive in Demopolis off of another close loss, this time a 25-22 setback at Bibb Co. Of those five losses, four have been by 10 points or less, a dramatic improvement for a team that was blown out with regularity in 2004. But it’s hard to see this week’s game being quite as competitive given the way DHS has continued to maul every opponent in their way.

The pick: DHS, by a fair amount more than 10

Patrician Acad. at Southern Acad.: Southern has won 20 games straight but perhaps none of those wins will be as hard to come by as a win over loaded Patrician squad Friday night. The Saints are undefeated, ranked 4th in the state, and have plenty of well-coached offensive weapons. The good news is that if Wallace Drury has another big night on the ground, the Cougars will keep all those weapons safely on the sideline.

The pick: Southern, by a nose

Linden at A.L. Johnson: I don’t want to pick this game: nearly every bad call I’ve made this season has involved the middle ground in 1A Region 4, and this is another toss-up. Linden has their vast array of runners and the larger lines; Johnson has experience, home field advantage, and Michael McGhee. So who knows?

The pick: Linden, by .00000001 points

John Essex at Sweet Water: Essex has proven me wrong so many times this season I’ve lost count, but if they do it one more time and knock off a Sweet Water team sure to be chomping at the bit to get back on the field after last week’s ACA loss, well, it’ll be time to go ahead and get the “John Essex Shut My Big Mouth” t-shirt printed.

The pick: Sweet Water, by 16

Dixie at WAP: Shelby next week, so this is it for 0-8 WAP. If WAP responds under new coach Tommy Yelverton, and if they can cut down on a troubling fumbling problem, and if the return of several injured players gives them a boost, Dixie’s the kind of team WAP could conceivably beat. Besides, I’m not going to sit here and predict a winless season for guys who have played as hard as the Titans have.

The pick: WAP, by a point

Wilcox Acad. at Marengo Acad.: It’d be nice to pick the Longhorns to take this, and at home (where they battled hard against a solid Tuscaloosa Acad. team) they’ve got a shot. But the Wildcats seem to be getting better–witness their Week 6 win over Pickens and 39-24 win last week over Jackson, two teams that handed Marengo big losses–and the Longhorns are likely building for the (bright) future.

The pick: Wilcox, by six

Greensboro at Livingston: Greensboro can guarantee themselves third place in Region 4 with a win over the Cougars, allowing them to avoid Region 3 champions Cleburne Co., currently the state’s 5th-ranked 4A team, in the first round of the playoffs. Nothing’s come easy for the Raiders on the road this season, but they should have too much for Livingston.

The pick: Greensboro, by 10

Sumter Acad. at East Memorial: Good news for the Eagles: Win-and-they’re-in. Great news for the Eagles: they’re playing a team that lost to Central–a team that Sumter beat handily–by a score of 62-6.

The pick: Sumter, by a bunch

Marengo at McIntosh: It’s all about gaining momentum for the postseason now for the Panthers, who clinched last week despite a narrow loss to Millry. They should get some against a one-win Demons squad.

The pick: Marengo, by 20

Midfield at Francis Marion, Central-Hayneville at Sumter County: While Sumter’s schedule keeps getting easier with a game against winless Hayneville, Marion’s long season promises to get longer with a tough game against Midfield.

The picks: Sumter and Midfield both by three scores

MMI at Central: The Tigers’ brutal schedule has helped disguise the fact that MMI is much improved under first-year coach Lamar Frith. We’ll find out approximately how much they’ve improved against Central, the kind of team MMI needs to beat to start gaining headway.

The pick: MMI, by two

Akron at American Christian, R.C. Hatch at Hale County: No wins yet for either Akron or Hatch, and they don’t look likely this week, either.

The pick: ACA and Hale by comfy margins

Last week: 12-2

Area teams that made me look good: Demopolis, Southern Acad., John Essex, Linden, Greensboro, Sumter County.

Area teams that shut my big mouth up: None

Season-to-date: 86-19