1A playoff pairings set; DHS, G’boro wait

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 26, 2005

With regional play completed, the first-round pairings for the AHSAA playoffs are set…almost.

While the area’s 1A teams have been informed which teams they will face when the playoffs begin a week from Friday, 4A teams Demopolis and Greensboro will have to wait another week to be sure. The Tigers and Raiders play in Region 4, which this season has been paired with 4A Region 3. The first-place team from Region 4 (in this case, Demopolis) plays the fourth-place team from Region 3, and vice versa.

But who Region 3’s second-, third-, and fourth-place teams are is still yet to be determined. Tallassee, Elmore County, and Handley all finished with identical 5-2 records, each went 1-1 against the other two teams in the tie, and each lost to region champ Cleburne County while going undefeated against the rest of the region. That means the tie must be broken by the teams’ performance outside the region, including play from Week 10 this Friday.

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Demopolis head coach Doug Goodwin says while he’s paying attention to the situation, it’s not exactly something he’s losing sleep over.

“We speculate it’ll be Handley,” he says, “but we don’t know for sure, and it’s all about the same anyway. We have our first game here at home. And whoever we play, we’ll have to play good to win.”

Demopolis will play whichever of the three finishes last in the tie, while Greensboro–third in Region 4–will travel east to take on the winner of the tiebreak.

While perhaps frustrating, the situation is not unusual. The first official pairings, released by the AHSAA Tuesday, have at least four teams missing in all but one of the six brackets.

The one that is complete, however, is the 1A bracket. At a glance, the match-ups for the area’s four playoff appear to be much tougher in the first round than those for the 4A teams.

Sweet Water will play host to Maplesville. Although the Red Devils finished third in Region 3, they boast a 7-2 overall record, 5-2 in region, and are the top vote-getter outside the top 10 in the most recent Alabama Sports Writers Association’s 1A rankings.

The very next highest vote-getter, Loachapoka, finished second in Region 3 and will take on the John Essex Hornets. The game will be a rematch of the two teams’ meeting in the second round of the 2004 playoffs. Hornet head coach Alphus Shipman says that despite Essex’s 14-0 loss in that game, he’s glad to see the Indians again.

“It’s fortunate in that we’re already familiar with them,” he says, “but we know they’re going to be tough. They have a tough defense. It’s just good to be in the playoffs.”

The first round doesn’t look any easier for the other two 1A area teams in the postseason. Marengo will travel to Florala, runner-up in Region 2. The Wildcats are 8-1 overall and have claimed the no. 10 spot in the ASWA poll.

But on paper, perhaps the toughest task belongs to Linden. The Patriots will go on the road to face undefeated, no. 5 Autaugaville. The 9-0 Eagles finished on top of Region 3.

Teams that finish first or second in their region host the first-round games, which will be played Nov. 4.